According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives. In other words, marketing is the process of developing an understanding of a product's customer and influencing their decisions. This large service industry is a vital business function in every industry, profit or not-for-profit, and is the means with which organizations interact with the public.
The marketing industry can convey messages to the public that have the power to change societal behavior:3 for example, the anti-smoking advertising movement in the eighties is largely responsible for the steep decline in American smoking, however the marketing industry was originally responsible for the prevalence of smoking through decades of marketing cigarettes to young people.
Because those who work in marketing have the ability to shape the way the public views a product, practice or idea, they play an important role in a consumer society. The marketing industry is responsible for developing the products that satisfy the needs of society and for creating the competitive environment that makes the prices of products affordable.
Who They Serve:
The marketing industry serves any organization that has a product, service or idea it would like to promote to the public. This includes for-profits, non-profits, and governments. For the for-profits, marketing is responsible for most actions that bring revenue and profits to an organization; for the non-profits, marketing is responsible for attracting the donors needed to support the organization's cause and revenue flow.5 Similarly, government organizations use marketing to influence utilization of public services and to communicate their activities to the public.
What They Do:
Simply put, marketers analyze how consumers behave, what motivates them, their perceptions and preferences, and then conceive a strategy based on that analysis to promote a product or idea to them.
The industry consists of three key areas: market research, market strategy, and brand/product management. Market research is the function that links the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information: it aims to understand what the consumer needs, identify why and how the customer chooses a product to satisfy that need, and discover how best to communicate the marketer's ideas with the public. Market strategists take the information from the market researchers and develop a marketing strategy based on it. Finally, product or brand managers plan, develop and coordinate the marketing efforts for a specific brand or product, and oversee the production, advertising, distribution, and sales of the product or service.
Market research is based on the first principle of marketing: that understanding the consumer is the best way to influence his or her market decisions.
Market researchers gather information about what people think in order to help organizations market their products to the people most likely to support or buy them. First, market researchers devise methods and procedures for obtaining the data they need: they design surveys, lead focus groups and oversee the compilation of data. Next, they make recommendations and present the information to market strategists in a way that is helpful in making decisions on the promotion, distribution, design and pricing of products or services.
Typically, market researchers design the studies and analyze the results, but outsource the actual administration of the studies to communications consultants and research firms. Because market research combines communications, business management and statistical analysis, market research professionals hold highly advanced degrees and often combine their full-time jobs with part-time jobs as consultants or academic positions. About 7% of market researchers are self-employed.
Market strategists formulate the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with customers that result in value for both the customer and the marketer: when the right product finds the right consumer, both the product and the consumer benefit.
As you can imagine, this is a complex and segmented process. Marketers must take their business strategy, a long-term goal, and then create tactics, which are actionable steps or decisions made in order to follow the established strategies. Market strategists analyze the information provided by market researchers to develop these strategies.
Brand or product managers are responsible for taking market strategies and overseeing and coordinating their implementation for a particular product or brand. They are responsible for the relationship a brand or product has with its customers: how the product is positioned to customers, ensuring that the customer is satisfied with the value they receive from the price, and maintaining the relationship so that the customer is loyal to the brand or product.
Many brand or product managers work at the corporate level, but many work out in the field. Field positions include sales representatives, who market and sell products to the general public. Depending on the product or service, extremely high or low level training can be required. All sales positions require excellent intrapersonal and communications skills, but for technical products, high levels of knowledge and training are required. For example, marketers selling pharmaceutical and medical equipment must understand the construction and uses of the product, and be able to describe that information effectively to doctors.
On the retail side of brand management, buyers select, order and receive merchandise consistent with the brand. This is another multifaceted position: buyers must recognize products that would appeal to their consumers, and at the same time negotiate the purchase price to a level that will enable the brand owner to make a profit. Finally, media planners identify and purchase the space or time used by marketing strategists to communicate with the public. Because each of these positions require creativity, communications skills and a background in business, it is easy to see why marketing attracts dynamic and motivated individuals to the industry.
What Employers Want:
Marketing is a growing and evolving industry, and those seeking to enter it should be creative, communicative and open to learning. All entry-level marketing candidates should have at least a bachelor's degree, typically in communications or business, and those interested in market research should pursue higher level degrees, such as a Master's or a Ph.D, focusing on business, communications and statistics.
There is an increasing interest in marketing strategists and brand/product managers with backgrounds in the social sciences, particularly those that offer insight into the human mind such as anthropology, psychology, sociology and economics.18 Majors that develop communications skills are also useful, including theatre, Writing Seminars and English. Job candidates with special interests in the field should pursue courses in them as well: for example, those looking to go into international marketing should take courses in foreign languages and world history.
Technical and specialized skills are becoming increasingly relevant in the marketing industry. Marketers should be proficient in web-based marketing messaging and techniques, and should also be able to work with online data warehouses. As technology and medical science continues to grow, the need to market them continues to grow as well. Students with engineering and medical backgrounds who have the creative and communication skills required for marketing are increasingly in demand by companies looking to market medical products, pharmaceuticals, and computer hardware and software.
Finally, real-world experience is crucial to securing an entry-level job in marketing. Internships in marketing and marketing experience for on-campus or non-profit organizations are excellent ways to gain this experience.
What They Hire Undergraduates to Do:
Entry-level positions are available in all areas of marketing, typically as associates. Some sample entry-level job titles for each area of marketing are:
- Market Research - research associates; higher-level positions designing studies are reserved for candidates with more advanced degrees.
- Market Strategy - marketing manager/coordinator; entry-level positions in this field are typically supportive but quick advancement is encouraged, and available within marketing firms or the marketing departments of corporations and non-profits.
- Brand/Product Management - brand/product assistants; entry-level jobs in this field are accompanied by intense sales training and company seminars, as management positions are typically reserved for candidates with MBA's. Retail management and sales positions are also offered to undergraduates, but technical training is required for specialized fields.
Marketing firms and in-house departments encourage career growth within the company, and advancement is quick: typically within one to two years.
John Charles Jove- Vice President, Retail Sales, PepsiCo International, International Relations, Class of 1983
- Describe what you do and how you got started in your current career. - I lead the international development of our food and beverage brands in global customers, including Wal-Mart International, and lead international retail channel sales strategy. After Hopkins and Columbia, I started in the food industry from the ground up working for Continental Grain in the Midwest as grain trader. I joined PepsiCo Intl through networking and worked for them in Mexico, the Caribbean and Brazil before returning to PepsiCo HQ in USA.
- What is most rewarding about your job and/ or industry? What is most challenging? - I enjoy working across cultures around the world...the political, social, economic complexity of multinational business. I also find working with our customers a pleasure. What's challenging is building global alignment across strategic initiatives...a bit like the UN....perhaps my next job is there.
- Is your career the same or different from what you had envisioned your career would be when you started at Hopkins as an undergraduate? How is it similar and/or different? - At Hopkins I was leaning towards US Foreign Service...but soon realized my passion is international business...similar challenges, different playing field.
- What advice do you have for a Hopkins student entering your career field / industry? - Explore different roles, outside your "box", on summer internships to get sense of your passion. Do self testing, talk to those close to you to get "different perspective" of your talents...network (professionally, e.g. read a bit on how best to network) with alumni.
Patrick Russell- National Sales Director, Harris Connect, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Class of 1989
- Describe what you do and how you got started in your current career. - I work with private schools, colleges and universities in helping them research, update and manage their alumni (constituent) data. We serve as consultative sales team in getting schools to keep better track of their alumni data so they can fund-raise and communicate effectively with their graduates.
- What is most rewarding about your job and/or industry? What is most challenging? - For me, I travel to the Midwest, so I meet so many types of schools and so many types of people. I meet alumni directors, VP's, development officers of all types of schools - private & public, colleges & universities, small schools & major universities. I love that each client is unique and not the same as the other. Their needs are different and the people are all different. I love the people-meeting and relationship-building. I also love the accomplishment that we successfully assisted a school in reaching more alumni. The challenge is I am viewed as a "VENDOR" and sometimes it is simply difficult to get schools to listen and agree to see me. I want them to view me as a "former colleague", not a sales rep.....because I used to work in their industry prior to my current job.
Kelly Rumsey Kaye- Research Manager, DeNovo Research Solutions, International Studies, Class of 2005
- How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? - No, it was not my original goal when I started at Hopkins. I had an internship at a Marketing Research firm during my senior year which led to a subsequent full-time position in the field.
- What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - Research Analyst at TNS Healthcare. Yes, it was in my current field of Market Research.
- What advice do you have for current students? - They should try and have multiple internships in different fields so they can get a sense of their interests and what type of career they might want to pursue.
- What is your typical day like? - I typically work from about 7:30-6:30 or 7PM at night. There is honestly not a "typical" day as the day to day varies considerably depending on the project work. Sometimes I may be traveling for qualitative research, other days I am developing a questionnaire or interacting with our vendors and clients through phone calls and meetings.
- What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - Research Analyst is the typical entry level position.
Cecily Naron- Industry: Health Communications,
Account Executive, Hager Sharp,
Johns Hopkins University, Public Health, Class of 2007,
Master’s in Communication, Johns Hopkins University, 2010
- How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? - I came to Hopkins interested in psychology, but wanted to pursue a broader degree. A Public Health major allowed me to study psych and more. After taking a few public health courses, I realized I really enjoyed it. I had always been intrigued by the field of communications, and the intro marketing course at JHU encouraged me to explore it further.
- What was your career path? How did you get to where you are today? - I had several internships in college that were either primarily public health OR communications/marketing focused. I wanted something that truly combined the two (by marketing health), but wasn't sure where to find it. Without a clear job path, I went straight to grad school. It was there that I learned about the wide field of health communications and met a classmate who led me to my current job.
- What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - I started at my current company as a Fellow during the last semester of grad school. I was hired as a full employee five months into the six-month fellowship.
- What advice do you have for current students? - Start interning and going on informational interviews as soon as possible--the earlier you learn what you don't want to do, the earlier you learn what you do want to do. If you can get by with four classes a semester plus an internship (for course credit), do it.
- What is your typical day like? - I work on developing and promoting government funded public health campaigns. Currently, I focus on an osteoporosis prevention campaign for tween girls. My specific roles include partnership development, developing the parents' campaign component, and exhibit manager. Today, I'll connect with partners (organizations who fit with our mission) to discuss ways to cross promote, work on developing strategy and timeline for creating parent materials, and figure out logistics for upcoming exhibits attended by campaign team members.
- What’s most rewarding about your industry and/ or job? What's most challenging? - I feel good about what I'm doing. I'm not selling anything but health, and we receive very positive feedback from those in the community who have seen the campaign and used its materials.
One challenge is that we probably have more restrictions on what we are able to do than we would if we were working for a private company.
- What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - The entry-level position would be an Account Assistant. Like any job, it's important to work well in a team and alone, volunteer for opportunities, keep track of schedules/deadline, and be passionate about the work.
- Where do you see the field going in the next 5-10 years? - Getting bigger. There will always be public health issues, and there will hopefully always be work done to reduce them. Plus, corporate social responsibility is becoming of big interest to corporations.
- What skills and out-of-class experiences (i.e. internships, co-curricular activities, volunteering, etc.) are ideal for entering your industry / career field? - Good language skills are vital. You need to be able get a point across clearly and concisely both in writing and verbally. Internships at communications firms that work with diverse clients and topics are ideal.
- Where can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? - One could move up in his or her company, to another firm, or even to the client side. There is a lot of reshuffling in this field--why it's important to maintain relationships.
- Which professional organizations and resources should students look into or get involved with? - I'm not in any, but I imagine PRSA and APHA would be helpful. JHU career services could be helpful too.
- What related occupations and industries would you recommend students explore who are interested in your industry or career field? - If you don't want to work at a communications firm, look into whether specific companies/government agencies have in-house communication/marketing departments. You could also look into consulting.
Jason Budden- Sports, Senior VP of Operations & Marketing, Baseball Factory, Johns Hopkins University, Economics, Class of 2002
- How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? - I was always into sports and wanted to work in sports coming into college. After taking a marketing class with Prof. Kendrick at JHU, I was confident I wanted to go into marketing.
- What was your career path? How did you get to where you are today? - I started as an intern at Baseball Factory, worked my way into part-time sales, then part-time on-field instruction, all while in college. I started as the Director of Marketing full time at Baseball Factory and have been promoted a few times to get to be the Senior VP of Operations & Marketing.
- What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - Baseball Factory
- What advice do you have for current students? - Get internship experience in your field of interest. The sooner you get experience, the sooner you can determine if it is really the right fit for you. In addition, the more internship experience you have, the better your resume will look. In addition, don't be afraid of a sales position. Sales experience can lend very well to success in marketing. Understanding the sales approach can make you a better marketer. Be prepared to work long days and make very little money, if any as an intern. Pay your dues and you'll have more success after college.
- What is your typical day like? - Every day is different. Whether I'm communicating with sponsors, developing marketing materials, organizing direct mail campaigns, writing press releases or meeting with other department heads, it is entertaining and challenging. Normal hours range from 8 - 14 hours per day, depending on the time of year.
- What’s most rewarding about your industry and/ or job? What's most challenging? - Most rewarding is the success that we see as a company in helping youth and high school baseball players develop their skills and ultimately play college baseball. You have to believe in what you do. The most challenging piece comes from being in a small company. You can't always do exactly what you want based on financial constraints, so you have to plan accordingly and fit your projects within your budget.
- What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - Sales representative and marketing associate. To be successful you need to be ready to work hard and keep longer hours. Stay organized and be energized to take on new projects. Work ethic and creativity go a long way towards continued development.
- Where do you see the field going in the next 5-10 years? - Field should not change much, other than general technology changes. Baseball will always be baseball, so it comes down to helping players develop their skills.
- What skills and out-of-class experiences are ideal for entering your industry / career field? - Again, internships are very important. If you have an opportunity to volunteer at a sporting event, these can also be good opportunities to gain experience. General networking is also key.
- Where can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? - Depends on their work ethic and success, but our organization prefers to promote from within, so their are opportunities to move into a management or senior director position.
- Which professional organizations and resources should students look into or get involved with? - The AMA is a great tool, regardless of whether students want to go into sports or not. WorkinSports.com and NCAA.com's workplace are good sites to find sports jobs.
- What related occupations and industries would you recommend students explore who are interested in your industry or career field? - Don't be confined to one sport. You can start in basketball and move into baseball, etc. Sports experience in general allows you to get your foot in the door. Network when possible to help find bigger and better opportunities.
Additional Alumni Profiles
Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.
If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.
LinkedIn.com - a professional networking site where you can identify Hopkins alumni. Join the LinkedIn Johns Hopkins University Alumni Group to add over 4000+ alumni to your network.
Industry /Professional Organizations:
Networking with professionals who work in this field can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family can be very helpful. You may also explore career opportunities by talking with employers at career fairs, and company presentations.
Internships - research positions and summer employment are highly effective ways for you to try out a field, gain experience and skills and make professional contacts.
If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.