Getting Started with a Career in Marketing: All You Need to Know

Let’s consider an example of a pencil brand i.e. Apsara Pencils. Most of us have noticed that they have inscribed the brand’s tagline “Extra Dark for Good Handwriting” on the pencil itself. The intent behind this is to make people focus on the darkness of the pencil which will give us good handwriting. The advertisement showing ‘extra marks for good handwriting’ is very clear in communicating the benefit that the brand is offering. Now whenever someone says “extra dark”, in case of pencils, we automatically think of Apsara pencils. That’s marketing for you!

The world of marketing covers advertising, public relations, branding, promotions, and sales through social platforms or offline modes. Any business can offer the best products or services in the industry, but none of the potential customers would know about it if they had not been marketed properly. It is the marketing strategies which make the difference and are considered to be the most important ingredient for the success of any business.

Theoretically, Marketing can be defined as identification of the current patterns and trends going on and understanding the need for any products and services and utilizing the facts to make relevant amends as to how the products are priced/advertised. Some of the typical tasks a marketer would do are-

  • Determining the need for specific products or services
  • Distinguishing potential markets for products or services
  • Monitoring current trends and patterns in the society
  • Developing pricing and sales strategies
  • Working with public relations, product development, technology and sales departments.

Marketing is perhaps the most visible aspect of a business. However, there are certain myths that surround the domain of marketing. Let’s address them one at a time.

Common Myths About Marketing

Myth – Marketing is a new approach to business.

Marketing strategies have been used prior to the industrial revolution. At that time, buyers and sellers enjoyed close contact with one another and try to understand what customers want, why they want and how they want the product? They used to do their best to satisfy their needs, and hence marketing is quite old, and not something developed today. Nowadays, marketing strategies have been modified. Numerous approaches like digital marketing, market research, search engine optimization, pay per click, offline promotional methods like advertising on radio, television etc. are used to grow the business.

Myth – Marketing is concerned only with advertising and high-pressure selling.

Marketing is a broad area, which not only involves advertising and high-pressure selling but also includes innovation, market testing, market research, promotion of products, public relations, digital marketing, content writing etc.

A marketer’s job is to explain a company and its services or products to the general public. As a marketer, you should be able to explain the needs and interests of the target population, and then recommend changes in processes, customer service, and product. A successful marketer is the one who can increase a company’s income by driving sales.

Skills Required to Pursue Marketing

Well, if the domain of marketing excites you, here are the few skills which can help you prosper in the field.

  1. Communication Skills- One needs to be quite effective with communication, as the field is all about communicating with customers through verbal or written modes. Marketing includes writing content, creating multimedia campaigns, understanding design, and having a general sense of who the end user is and what they want. It’s quite a fun, creative, and thrilling domain.
  2. Analytical Thinking Skills- Marketing involves an understanding of the market, current trends and a lot of research-based analysis to determine what the audience wants and needs, why they want and how they want it to be. Marketers are often able to draw logical conclusions based on data and other information received.
  3. Creative Skills- Marketers need to be able to think of new, innovative and exciting ideas which can appeal to their clients and boost product sales/ brand visibility. From having an eye for design to coming up with amusing concepts, the ability to think outside the box is crucial in the field of marketing.
  4. Technology Skills- From using various software to track the progress of a key campaign, to using analytics to measure the success of social media campaigns, working in the marketing function will require you to have decent computer knowledge and efficiency on Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), Data Analysis Software, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Sales Copywriting, Content Writing platforms, Graphic Designing, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) etc.
  5. Negotiation Skills- As a marketer, you’ll have to negotiate with clients on budgets, timelines, and expectations. You would also need to work with designers and vendors, etc. and should have the ability to drive a hard bargain, which is a big part of success as a professional marketer.
  6. Other Specific Skills- These are individual specific skills. As a successful marketer, you need be a multitasker, creative writer, ability to interpret data, aesthetic sense, eye for design and attention to details.

Educational Requirements to Pursue Marketing

If you believe you have the right skill-set, here’s a quick guide to pursuing a career in this field.

Step 1: Choose any Stream in Class 12th (Commerce is Recommended)

You can take any stream in 10+2. However, it is recommended to take commerce stream as it will help you develop strong academic foundation towards the business world.

Step 2: Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in a Relevant Field (BBA or B.Com is Recommended)

Marketers generally must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. It would be recommended to pursue your graduation in either of the two –

1. Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

The duration of both the courses is 3 years. The course content is almost similar. The nature of the course involves commerce domain and sets the groundwork for higher education in commerce. The core subjects in both courses include Accounting, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Communication Skills, Operations Management, International Trade and Business Law. Both the courses will help you build business and management skills. However, the major difference between these courses are-

  • BBM- The course involves administrative and theoretical studies in the areas of Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Real Estate, Human Resource Management, International Business, Information technology, etc. Leading colleges/universities offering this course are Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, University of Delhi; Keshav Mahavidyalaya, University of Delhi; Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, University of Delhi; Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai etc.
  • BBA- The course involves management and theoretical studies in the areas of Finance, Operations Management, Management Information Systems etc. Leading colleges/universities offering this course are Indian Institute of Management, Indore; Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi; Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune; Christ University, Bangalore etc.

The admission to these colleges/universities is through an entrance exam and/or interview conducted by the respective colleges/universities.

2. Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com) or Bachelor of Commerce Honors (B.Com. H)

The duration of the course is 3 years. The course content is almost similar however the only difference is that students who have mathematics in 10+2 are eligible to do B.Com. (Hons.) and those who don’t have mathematics are eligible to do B.Com. Leading colleges/universities offering this course are University of Delhi (Multiple Colleges); University of Mumbai (Multiple Colleges); Christ University, Bangalore

The admission through these universities is through merit or entrance/interview conducted by the respective colleges/universities.

Students who pursue graduation in different fields apart from the courses listed above such as Engineering, Computer Applications, Media Communication, Hotel Management, Social Sciences etc. can also take up marketing as a career. They have to do Masters in Business Administration at their post-graduation level. This is discussed in detail in Step 3.

Step 3: Pursue an MBA or Post-Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM)

For Executive-Level jobs, an MBA is usually required. Enthusiasts can pursue multiple certifications alongside their education to build skills. You can pursue either Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or Post-Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) which is for 2 years. In the second year of the program, you can choose Marketing as your specialization where you will study about marketing concepts, marketing research, marketing planning, marketing segmentation, sales forecasting, brand management, business communication, industrial marketing, etc.

Leading colleges/ universities that offer this course are Indian Institute of Management (Multiple Locations); Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi; S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai; Xavier Labour Research Institute (XLRI)- Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur etc.

The admission through these business schools is through entrance exam and/or personal interview conducted by the respective colleges/universities. Leading entrance exams are CAT, XAT, MAT, GMAT, SPJET etc.

Post-Graduate Marketing Programs Overseas

If you are looking for abroad education, you can pursue a Masters’ Program in Marketing. Some of the top colleges offering this course are Northwest University, USA; Harvard Business School, USA; The Wharton School, Pennsylvania; Stanford University, USA; London Business School, UK; HEC Paris, France etc.

Application procedure to these colleges would include Standardized Examinations like GRE or GMAT, Language Proficiency Examinations like TOEFL, IELTS, Application Essays, Resume, Statement of Purpose (SOP), 2-3 Letters of Recommendations, Admission Interviews and so on.

Marketing Certification Programs

You can also pursue online/offline marketing certifications (optional) to build your profile and have a strong knowledge base. Some of them are:

  1. Google AdWords Certification
  2. Google Analytics Certification
  3. HootSuite Social Media Marketing Certification
  4. Certification courses from Scrum Alliance
  5. Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association
  6. eMarketing Institute’s Online Marketing Certification
  7. Distilled: Smarter Online Marketing
  8. Certification courses from HubSpot
  9. Moz Academy

Scope of Marketing as a Career in India

Marketing is a broad area which includes the following specialized fields:

Digital Marketing

As the world is getting more digitized in every aspect, digital marketing is a booming career. The scope of Digital Marketing is wide which involves branding, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, video production, web designing, app development, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, etc. Nowadays, almost all companies are using digital marketing to build their brand, generate leads and sell. Working smart, keeping yourself updated with the latest information, excellent communication skills, is the key to success in the field of Digital Marketing.

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing involves reaching customers directly using their phone numbers, email ids, purchase histories, etc. and communicate about new product or services. Many service provider companies send automated follow-up emails to be in regular touch with the customers and also use Google AdWords, Google my Business, Facebook advertisements, content marketing, organic social media, coupon deal sites, email marketing, webinars etc. to grow their business.

Market Research

Market research involves researching about current trends so as to understand their consumers, their needs, purchasing habits and how they view the product about the current trends. Just like in many companies, market research is evolving by the speed of light because of the changing technological and social trends, you can bring lots of new ideas to the table, and develop them further via the profound knowledge of experienced professionals. Some research is done to understand the competitive, technological, social, economic, cultural, political or legal environments of the market. Working in market research goes way beyond statistics and numbers. The day-to-day contact with consumer’s opinions on various aspects enables you to understand consumer psychology, how and why people make certain choices.

Advertising

Advertising facilitates large-scale marketing so as to create brand reinforcement and brand identity. Various forms such as Electronic media (Radio/TV), Print media (Newspaper/Magazine), Direct Mail, etc. are used to promote the product. By assigning the right amount of money to the right channels, help you generate potential customers. You can work as a copywriter, graphic designer, film and video editor, prepare advertisements etc.

Brand Management

Brands have a powerful influence, not only on customer engagement but also on the management of an enterprise. The scope of brand management involves brand positioning, cost, customer satisfaction and being aware of the competitors. Many companies manage their brand through public relations, publicity, phone directories, online (website, blogs, social media such as Twitter and Facebook), broadcast media (television, radio), print media (newspapers, magazines, specialty publications), and print displays and direct mail (brochures, fliers, signage).

Public Relations

Public Relations involves interacting with clients on daily basis. People who work as public relations managers are known as the spokesperson for the company and are involved in creating a favourable brand image. The field of public relations also involve promotion through media publicity, enhances public awareness of the company, and projects the organization as a source of opportunities and growth.

Opportunities in Marketing

Marketers work in across all domains such as banking, insurance companies, accountancy sector, management consulting firms, startups, teaching sector, leisure and tourism sectors, agricultural and conversation sectors and so on. The best way to explore job opportunities in the field of marketing is to read about new marketing emerging roles, regularly checking job listings, and being aware of the evolution of consumer, media and technology landscapes.

Pros and Cons of a Career in Marketing

Pros

  • After graduating in the marketing field, candidates get decent pay packages. According to PayScale India, the average salary package for a marketing manager is around 6.5 Lacs.
  • Many marketers get an opportunity to travel to the cities/countries to understand the latest trends in consumer needs and wants.
  • As marketing goes with current trends thus, the job will never become monotonous for you.
  • You can explore various career opportunities in the domain of marketing as its quite broad and wide field.

Cons

  • Due to diverse job roles and responsibilities, sometimes you might feel that your job is quite stressful.
  • Marketing jobs might require you to work for long hours as it requires a huge investment of time, energy and effort.



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