Marketing, broadly defined, encompasses the promotion and sales of the products or services offered by your business. On a basic level, this includes both the market research required to “know your customer” and the creation of advertising campaigns that will effectively reach them. However, while the core objectives of marketing haven’t changed since the days of “Mad Men,” today’s marketing professionals have a myriad of new tools to achieve them.
For example, online marketing offers new customer and user acquisition tools like social media, content marketing, search engine optimization, and targeted advertising. Once you’ve engaged a customer, sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) software programs allow you to track and optimize their journey through your marketing funnel. The prevalence of online marketing also means new opportunities for creative offline marketing campaigns - and a talented marketing professional will be able to combine all these tools to drive sales.
Regardless of the product or service a business sells, it will need marketing to be successful. And, while some smaller companies and “lean” startups may rely on outside marketing consultants, larger corporations may have entire marketing departments headed up by a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and staffed by a wide range of marketing professionals. More traditional marketing roles include director of product marketing, sales director, and brand managers, while the world of online advertising has created specialized new roles like head of digital marketing, marketing automation specialist, and omni-channel marketing manager.
The skills and experience that you need to already have before starting to learn marketing would likely be an awareness of marketing practices and an understanding of the practices that marketers take to get inside your wallet. As marketing is all around us—on TV, radio, on the internet, and our mobile devices—we all seem to know how marketing works. But having the inside knowledge of marketing automation, social media tactics, and retargeting processes would certainly help you as you learn more about marketing.
The kind of people best suited for roles in marketing might be analytical, research-oriented people who like to dig deep into big data. As the role of marketing has become driven much more by data, the people who end up in marketing roles are less creative, brand-centric thinkers, and more data-centric types working in data analysis, customer service, operations management, and business research. This has been a recent change in the history of marketing, now that consumers unwittingly give so much data to marketers of our online and offline shopping purchases through UPC codes, coupons, and retail shopping apps.
Learning marketing might be right for you if you are the kind of person who loves working with data, can communicate well with creative sides of the business, and are interested in the tactics and processes that compel people to buy certain products over others. You might also have a deep passion for the consumer mindset, along with the activities, strategies, and processes that companies use to engage potential customers and clients in their products or services.
Marketing is present in companies and industries across the business landscape, so it’s not unusual for all kinds of companies to hire people with a background in marketing. Companies like the sandwich shop around the corner to Apple or Samsung marketing their latest phones all hire people to manage their marketing. A business manufacturer, for example, might market its products and services to a strictly business market. This practice is known as B2B, or business-to-business marketing. When a company markets its wares to individual consumers like you and me, it’s called B2C, or business-to-consumer marketing. Various marketing strategies and tactics are used to reach the ultimate buyers in each group. Key aspects of marketing involve activities like product strategies, market research, pricing analysis, social media, creative content, and more. Many of these are used by a wide range of companies to win new customers, maintain existing customers, and ultimately deliver products or services to them.
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