What is Marketing?

Marketing facilitates exchange or put another way, marketing is the link between the producer of a product or service and the customer. Contact with some marketing activity is an everyday occurrence. It influences your choice of restaurants, clothing, what video games to buy, which computers you use, what gasoline you put in your car, where you go on vacation, what college you attend, and on and on. Whether an organization is a manufacturer of goods, a provider of services, local or multi-national company, profit or non-profit organization, or self-employment, marketing is at the heart of virtually all business activities. Long-term customer satisfaction is the core philosophy of most of today’s businesses and strategic marketing is the driver of an organization’s interaction with its customers.

Why study Marketing?

The field of marketing is exciting and diverse. Virtually every aspect of an organization’s relationship with its customers is encompassed in the field of marketing, giving marketing students a broad scope of career possibilities. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2014, spurred by intense domestic and global competition in products and services offered to consumers. Marketing positions within an organization provide excellent training for the highest levels of the organization. A recent study by a recruiting firm found that more top executives have come from marketing than any other area.

Careers in Marketing

A marketing major’s career possibilities are virtually limitless. Marketing majors find jobs opportunities in internet marketing, wholesaling, retailing, service companies, banking, non-profit and government agencies, advertising, public relations, sales management, marketing research firms, and manufacturing in areas of product development and brand management. According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, starting salaries for marketing majors graduating in 2005 averaged $33,873; starting salaries for advertising majors averaged $31,340.

Salary levels vary substantially, depending upon the level of managerial responsibility, length of service, education, size of firm, location, and industry. For example, manufacturing firms usually pay these managers higher salaries than do non-manufacturing firms. For sales managers, the size of their sales territory is another important determinant of salary. Many managers earn bonuses equal to 10 percent or more of their salaries. Median annual earnings in May 2004 were $63,610 for advertising and promotions managers, $87,640 for marketing managers, $84,220 sales managers, and $70,000 for public relations managers.


Advertising is an important business activity that requires skill in planning, fact gathering, and creativity. Although compensation for starting advertising people tends to be lower than that in other marketing fields, opportunities for advancement are usually greater because of less emphasis on age or length of employment. Typical jobs in advertising agencies include the following positions.

Copywriters help find the concepts behind the written words and visual images of advertisements. They dig for facts, read avidly, and borrow ideas. They talk to customers, suppliers, and anybody who might give them clues about how to attract the target audience’s attention and interest.

Art directors constitute the other part of the creative team. They translate copywriters’ ideas into dramatic visuals called “layouts.” Agency artists develop print layouts, package designs, television layouts (called “storyboards”), corporate logotypes, trademarks, and symbols. They specify style and size of typography, and arrange all the details of the ad so that engravers and printers can reproduce it. A superior art director or copy chief becomes the agency’s creative director and oversees all its advertising.

Account executives are liaisons between clients and agencies. They must know a great deal about marketing and its various components. They explain client plans and objectives to agency creative teams and supervise the development of the total advertising plan. Their main task is to keep the client happy with the agency. Because “account work” involves many personal relationships, account executives are usually personable, diplomatic, and sincere.

Media buyers select the best media for clients. Media representatives come to the buyer’s office armed with statistics to prove that their numbers are better, their costs per thousand are less, and their medium delivers more audience than competitive media. Media buyers have to evaluate these claims. They must also bargain with the broadcast media for best rates and make deals with the print media for good ad positions.

Large ad agencies have active marketing research departments that provide market information needed to develop new ad campaigns and assess current campaigns. People interested in marketing research should consider jobs with ad agencies.

Brand and Product Management

Brand and product managers plan, direct, and control business and marketing efforts for their products. They are concerned with research and development, packaging, manufacturing, sales and distribution, advertising, promotion, market research, and business analysis and forecasting. In consumer goods companies, the newcomerwho usually needs a Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA)joins a brand team and learns the ropes by doing numerical analysis and watching senior brand people. This person eventually heads the team and latter moves on to manage a larger brand. Many industrial goods companies also have product managers. Product management is one of the best training grounds for future corporate officers.

Product Planning

People interested in new-product planning can find opportunities in many types of organizations. They usually need a good background in marketing, marketing research, and sales forecasting; they need organizational skills to motivate and coordinate others; and they may need a technical background. Usually, these people work first in other marketing positions before joining the new-product department.

Industrial Marketing

People interested in industrial marketing careers can go into sales, service, product design, marketing research, or one of several other positions. They sometimes need a technical background. Most people start in sales and spend time in training and making calls with senior salespeople. If they stay in sales, they may advance to district, regional, and higher sales positions. Or they may go into product management and work closely with customers, suppliers, manufacturing, and sales engineering.

International Marketing

As US firms increase their international business, they need people who are familiar with foreign languages and cultures and who are willing to travel or relocate in foreign cities. For such assignments, most companies seek experienced people who have proved themselves in domestic operations.

Sales and Sales Management

Sales and sales management opportunities exist in a wide range of profit and non-profit organizations and in product and service organizations, including financial, insurance, consulting, and government organizations. Individuals must carefully match their backgrounds, interests, technical skills, and academic training with available sales jobs. Career paths lead from salesperson to district, regional, and higher levels of sales management and, in many cases, the top management of a firm.

Marketing Research

Marketing researchers interact with managers to define problems and identify the information needed to resolve them. They design research projects, prepare questionnaires and samples, analyze data, prepare reports, and present their findings and recommendations to management. They must understand statistics, consumer behavior, psychology, and sociology. A master’s degree helps. Career opportunities exist with manufacturers, retailers, some wholesalers, trade and industry associations, marketing research firms, advertising agencies, and governmental and private non-profit agencies.

Marketing Logistics (Physical Distribution)

Marketing logistics, or physical distribution, is a large and dynamic field, with many career opportunities. Major transportation carriers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers all employ physical distribution specialists. Coursework in quantitative methods, finance, accounting, and marketing will provide students with the necessary skills for entering the field.


Purchasing agents are playing a growing role in firms’ profitability during periods of rising costs, materials shortages, and increasing product complexity. In retail organizations, working as a “buyer” can be a good route to the top. Purchasing agents in industrial companies play a key role in honing down costs. A technical background is useful in some purchasing positions, along with knowledge of credit, finance, and physical distribution.

Public Relations

Most organizations have a public relations person or staff to anticipate public problems, handle complaints,deal with media, and build the corporate image. People interested in public relations should be able to speak and write clearly and persuasively, and they should have a background in journalism, communications, or the liberal arts. The challenges in this job are highly varied and very people-oriented.

Retail Management

Retailing provides people with an early opportunity to take on marketing responsibilities. Although retail starting salaries and job assignments has typically been lower than those in manufacturing or advertising, the gap is narrowing. The major routes to top management in retailing are merchandise management and store management. In merchandise management, a person moves from buyer trainee to assistant buyer to buyer to merchandise division manager. In store management, the person moves from management trainee to assistant department (sales) manager to department manager to store (branch) manager. Buyers are primarily concerned with merchandise selection and promotion; department managers are concerned with sales force management and display.

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