In a nutshell: If you’re thinking about a marketing degree, here’s a look at the courses you’ll take, skills you’ll need and concepts you’ll encounter.

Marketing, at its heart, is the business of getting products and services into the hands of your customers. While that seems like a simple definition, the field can be quite complex, with many variables to consider and a delicate balance between creativity and research. The best marketing — think Apple, Nike and Southwest — give companies an incredible edge over their competitors. Conversely, marketing mistakes can hurt reputations and bottom lines.

If you’re thinking about an undergraduate or graduate degree in marketing — or looking at marketing as part of an MBA program — you can expect to come across certain courses, concepts and skills no matter where you go to school. Here’s an overview.

One: What Courses You’ll Take

Your marketing studies will begin with an introductory course, which will present the fundamentals of the field and explain how all the pieces fit together. From there, courses will dive deeper into topics such as:

  • Marketing research:Today’s advanced marketing campaigns are carefully calibrated and based on well-researched data. A marketing research course explores how to collect and analyze information that can lead to effective marketing strategies.
  • Global marketing: Companies with a global footprint will need to think carefully about how to balance local and international marketing strategies.
  • Strategic brand management: Branding is the message that encapsulates a company’s promise to customers. Highly effective brands, such as Disney, can resonate with customers, increase sales and build loyalty.
  • Innovation and technology marketing: Technology companies of all sizes — from startups to Fortune 500 giants — have unique marketing considerations.
  • Advertising and social media: Students will learn how to navigate the new world of digital marketing and determine when older forms of outreach – such as telemarketing and mail pieces — might still be appropriate.
  • Integrated marketing communications: There are more promotional and marketing tools than ever before, and integrated marketing communications (IMC) looks at how to keep messages consistent across platforms.

In addition, marketing students should expect courses or electives in accounting, finance, information technology, economics, management, career development and statistics.

Two: What Concepts You’ll Learn

Some of the concepts you’ll learn are:

  • The 4 P’s of marketing:These are product, promotion, price and place. Today, some people like to add a fifth P: people.
  • B2B marketing: Business-to-business marketing requires a different strategy than marketing directly to consumers.
  • The AIDA model: AIDA — attention, interest, desire and action — refers to the different steps consumers take between learning about your product or service and deciding to buy it.
  • The Porter Five Forces Framework:This framework looks at the interaction between new competitors, substitute products or services, buyers, sellers and industry rivalry shape the marketplace.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy: This well-known theory of human needs and motivation informs marketing messages. In brief, if certain fundamental needs such as safety are not met, a consumer won’t focus on things like prestige, accomplishments, creativity and self-actualization.
  • The Promotional Pyramid: This lesser-known framework looks at how promotional outreach narrows as customers reach the sales stage. At the apex is person-to-person relationships.

Three: What Skills You’ll Sharpen

Earning your marketing (or MBA) degree will help you improve skills highly desired in the business world, including.

  • Communication: Master investor Warren Buffett calls public speaking the No. 1 skill that will boost a career. Students will have the opportunity to work on all kinds of communication — oral and written — as they pursue their marketing degree. In an increasingly busy business environment, it’s essential for marketing professionals to express themselves clearly and concisely.
  • Problem solvingMarketing professionals must learn to make smart decisions based on research and experience. Problems might have several solutions, and it could be difficult to weigh all the pros and cons.
  • Teamwork: Today, business programs emphasize the need for people to work in groups. This is important because teamwork plays a large role in marketing operations, as people with many different backgrounds and knowledge sets must often come together to share ideas and take action.

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