In a Marketing Strategy class I took a few years ago, we had to write our personal definition of marketing on a piece of paper. Then we passed it to the person sitting to the right, so each student got a piece of paper with someone else’s definition and wrote her comments on that definition. By the end of the class, each student got back the paper with her definition, plus about 10 comments.
My definition of marketing was: “Marketing is communication with a purpose.” Pretty much everybody criticized it for being too broad.
It’s broad, but…marketing is broad! When a presidential candidate is speaking to an audience, he or she is marketing. When I’m trying to convince you to join me at a party, I am marketing. When you’re looking for a job, you are marketing yourself.
Marketing is a huge, broad concept. Broadness is one of the best things marketing has to offer. But let’s take a look at some other pros and cons:
- There is always more to learn. Things in marketing change all the time. You will get a chance to experience industries and practices you never knew existed, and your job will be a springboard for personal growth.
- There is room for creativity. People often choose a marketing career because it offers opportunities for creativity. Whether it’s devising a strategy for a campaign, composing interesting tweets, or designing the company logo, your creative juices will get a chance to flow.
- Marketing is multidisciplinary. It includes a lot of psychology, but also economics; design, but also data. You can employ psychological theories to analyze what drives customers’ purchasing decisions. Alternatively, you can put all the data into equations of supply and demand or compare pricing schemes and price promotions of a competing product.
- Marketing can fit any personality type. Are you the analytical type? You’re sure to find marketing jobs in which you plug numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and write formulas to devise a marketing strategy. Are you the artistic type? You can find a company that needs to redesign their website, flyers, business cards, or logo. Are you a “people person?” You can become a community manager, organize events, or mingle at other events where you can be the public face of your company.
- You can always find an industry you are interested in. Think of your favorite products, and look for an opportunity to market those products. You can be in consumer electronics, education, politics, nonprofits, cosmetics, and more. That way, you get to spend the entire day dealing with a product you like and mingling with people who share your interests.
- Marketing will never die. Remember the milkman? There are no more milkmen in developed countries. But marketers are here to stay, as long as they stay sharp and evolve all the time.
- You can influence the world in a good way. This is my favorite aspect of marketing. A lot of marketing out there is admittedly sleazy, but you don’t have to be a part of that. To promote their products, some marketers will try to instill conscious or subconscious fear in potential customers. Some may inflate crime figures to scare potential customers into purchasing a home alarm system. But if you’re brave and willing to take the risk, you can try to influence the marketing campaigns to employ more reputable marketing techniques. You can suggest that the campaign take into account its effect on the population as well as the monetary value of the products it sells. As a marketer, you can provide your audience with information presented in the most digestible and truthful way, without instilling fear or diminishing their dignity or self-esteem.
- You can create value. As a marketer, you often get inputs from your customers, either by market research or by listening to their comments and requests. Thus, you can and should try to influence the product department of your company to make products that best fit the customers’ needs.
If you are considering several different paths, make sure to consider the potential drawbacks of each. (Every career/job choice has its own potential drawbacks.) Here are the potential drawbacks of marketing that I can think of.
- The job market in some cities is flooded with marketers. I have noticed that many North American cities are flooded with tons of marketing professionals looking for jobs right now. There are no real barriers of entry such as a degree or diploma. Unlike accounting, law, and engineering, no lengthy studies or specific credentials are required to work in marketing. From what I’ve seen, there is no correlation between majoring in marketing in college and being a good marketer. In addition, marketing is shifting more and more toward online and social media. 16-year-old kids with active Twitter accounts may end up being better marketers than an adult with an MBA in marketing. This flood of marketers also tends to lower the wages.
- Even if the product isn’t good enough, you’re still responsible for marketing it. The world isn’t impressed by a marketer who claims, “I did a great marketing job! It’s the product that sucks!” It is very hard to move on to the next marketing job after trying and failing to market an inferior product.
- It is not always easy to be true to yourself. Sometimes, the problem goes beyond a “not good enough” product and into the realm of ethics. Some people market online gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, “magic” diet pills, etc. The people I know who market these products don’t think of themselves as evil people; it’s just a matter of their values at a particular point in time. Sometimes in life, your strongest value is to get ahead; at other times, bringing positive value to others becomes your main concern. If you are at the stage of your life at which you are more concerned with bringing something positive into the world, you might have to reject some marketing jobs.
Well these are some points I can think of. It might seem skewed towards the positive since there are more points supporting the “for” vs the “against. I do think that marketing can be a great job choice for you, as long as you are true to yourself and don’t compromise your values.