Marketers, how can I decide if marketing is the right career for me?
April 12, 2010 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to decide whether to pursue marketing (my degree subject) as a career or try something totally different, and if anyone works in marketing I would find it really helpful to know the following

1) What are the main things you love and hate about working in marketing? What is the main source of satisfaction for you?

2) How do you cope with the pressure of bottom-line accountability? Maybe I am looking at it the wrong way, but I feel in marketing there are always those who could second-guess you and feel someone else could have achieved better results with the same budget. Does this mean there is a high turnover in marketing positions as senior managers think someone else with "fresh ideas" will do better?

3) How did you overcome the learning curve period while you are still learning on the job and before you start producing results? For example I don't feel my degree (which was quite academic and theory-based) helps much in practical things. When I tried doing things like writing newsletters and mailshots in my work experience, these got little response. I want to learn how to be good at marketing, are there any book or web resources which help?

Thanks in advance for any help offered!
posted by AuroraSky to Work & Money (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The problem with marketing is that it's too broard and you're not on a set track like a professional career such as law, accounting, medicine, or even a trade. People will tell you the "possibilities are endless" - well, that's because the possibilities can't really be defined. Don't get me wrong, many people do very well after completing a marketing degree, but if you're a person that values stability it may not be the best choice to do it as a single major. If I were you I'd study marketing along with a more specific, narrow field that is supported by a professional organisation. That way if you fail to get anywhere in marketing you have the other field to fall back on. The same can be said for similar "non-professional" degrees like communications, management, media studies, journalism etc.
posted by thesailor at 2:44 AM on April 13, 2010

Best answer: Some background: a non-business major in college, became a product manager for four years in a high-tech field, currently in field sales.

Marketing professionals can and do make very good incomes - if you are good a non-management position (no direct reports) range from the $60K-$120K/year, and in my field a $140K salary is possible with another 10% target bonus. Marketing management (associate director and above) rises accordingly (VP level, depending on the size of the company, can top $200K).

I realize you ask about love and hate - you can do very well financially in marketing. That being said I enjoyed working with a technical product and being the 'product guru', I also enjoyed the cross-functional nature of the position (at the crossroads of Sales, R&D, Manufacturing, Customer Support). Working with lots of different kinds of domain experts was stimulating and very interesting - a sales manager, an electrical engineer, a QA specialist, a documentation specialist and a technical writer is all in a day's work.

The most difficult bits were the fact that many items were outside your control - whether manufacturing or R&D or QA - and there are occassions (depending on the company, product, and market etc.) where you are simply the messenger of bad news to many people whose livelihood depends on a successful product launch (salespeople in particular). And that kind of stress many may find uncomfortable.

'Bottom line accountability' comes with the position - you have to demonstrate your financial value (true for any position but moreso in marketing) to the company and reorganizations can and do happen, adding another layer of stress. I've seen a lot of it (both inside and outside marketing departments across the industry I'm in) and it comes with the territory. How did I cope? By simply focusing on the big picture, bringing products to market that will sell, and providing the tools to the sales force to help them sell.

You need to look back on your academic learnings and figure out what you can distill from it to use in the real world. Sounds like you are new to the work force, I'd put a lot of effort into time management (i.e. figuring out what your manager's top priorities are and sticking to those, along with the senior executives of whatever company you belong to) as well as learning what it takes to become good at both sales and marketing (they work together - sorry to be so obvious but there are many in marketing who don't seem to get it).

The best marketing professionals are experts at both sales and marketing - they know the products, market, underlying technologies and the factors that cause customers to buy.

Materials to learn? Depends on how best you learn. But for books - the classics you should begin with, by that I mean Kotler (here's a link) and Ries/Trout (here's another link). If you aren't familiar with these two then you got cheated in your education, and this is just a starting point.

I'm not talking about 'newsletters and mailshots', I'm talking real-world marketing in business, which are different things. Good luck.
posted by scooterdog at 4:10 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

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