The Real Life Mad Men: The Upsell of Working in Marketing


Marketing as a career choice doesn’t carry immediate gravitas, and unfortunately too many people imagine those who work in careers like advertising as desk slaves or paper pushers. However the reality could not be more different: marketing requires a combination of skills and qualities like no other job. You need to be as socially smooth as a traditional businessperson, as creative as an artist and as intuitive as a therapist to truly succeed.

The popularity of Mad Men has gone some way to explaining to the masses what the life of marketing and advertising executives was like in the 1960s, but unfortunately many are still mystified by the work our modern day Mad Men do. If you have been considering a career switch, then marketing is a industry with room for growth and a need for people with a varied skills palette. Here are just some of the skills that a modern day marketer needs to succeed in the business, and why marketing is exactly the right career choice for those equally creative and business minded.

1. Digital awareness

Marketing nowadays is completely shaped by the digital mediums on which you can push products, and therefore being tech and web savvy is essential if you want to reach the highest echelons of the business. Anywhere in the modern world constitutes as advertising space, and modern day marketing executives need to think bigger than a billboard if they want to successfully market a product. While digital awareness is a skill that you will learn on the job, giving yourself a head-start by getting to grips with common internet advertising methods is a must.

2. Equal opportunity employer

Very few products nowadays are marketed specifically at men or women, as the best returns are made on products perceived as gender neutral. Because of this, women who work in marketing are no longer consigned to working just on “womens’ products” and have equal opportunity alongside their male counterparts to strive for the top of the career ladder. While no career path is completely free of sexism, marketing in and of itself has come a long way in the past 50 years in erasing its “boys club” image and making sure all employees have an equal chance of showing how hard they can work.

3. Specialisation

Every single product produced requires marketing, and because of this there is no shortage of niche marketing areas for you to occupy. If you happen to have extensive knowledge of the motor vehicle market from a previous occupation for example, then you are well placed to put your specialised knowledge to use. While many marketing companies are broad ‘any product’ machines, there are several companies that focus specifically on certain markets. If you have a very particular skill-set, then perhaps working at a specialised marketing company is for you.

4. Beyond the marketing mix

Most students who take classes on marketing in college do not learn much beyond the marketing mix, when in reality there is so much more to the science of marketing than just the 4 P’s. Marketing as an industry is doing more and more to examine products from the consumers and not the producers angle, and marketers are lending from every discipline from psychology to sociology to better understand what the consumers want.

While this is good for the marketing industry as a whole, it is great for marketers themselves because there is always something new to learn. While traditional methods work well, there are mavericks in the industry doing much to change how marketing works and they are seeing great return on investment to prove their methods. If you’ve got an idea on how to sell, then maybe that next marketing maverick will be you.

5. Understanding people

The essence of marketing is understanding people: what they want, why they want it and how to respond to their desires and needs. There may be a lot of corporate noise separating a marketing executive from an ordinary person, but it is the job of a marketer at a creative ad agency  to cut through that and try understand everything from the viewpoint of their target audience. If trying to understand the delicate wants and needs of people sounds interesting to you, then so should marketing.

Kate Simmons is a freelance journalist and blogger on various topics related to business, corporate life and digital marketing.

Photo: inlinguamanchester

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