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How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Education

The concept of marketing is relatively new. Many years ago, the study of how to meet consumers’ wants and needs was considered an application of economics. The cornerstone of marketing, the way it is understood today, can be traced to Wroe Alderson’s “Marketing Behavior and Executive Action,” published in 1957. Technology applications and statistical analysis for marketing become commonplace in the 1980s, and it is only recently that marketing has become completely intertwined with digital techniques, social media and big data.

For marketing students, it’s important to know where this field of study came from, where it’s going and how to make the biggest impact on a potential employer. Here are some tips for students to make the most of their education and prepare them for a successful career in marketing.

Know the Numbers

There’s a common misconception that marketing is a relatively qualitative field of study. That’s not the case. Marketing today requires a familiarity with accounting, finance, statistics and economics. Guesstimates won’t get marketers very far — organizations run on hard data, and the marketing department needs to be able to produce the information and reporting that proves its efforts are making a measurable impact on the bottom line.

Today, marketing professionals are expected to use big data to:

  • Discover trends
  • Set pricing strategy
  • Gain consumer insights
  • Increase consumer engagement

    Think Beyond the 4 Ps

    Every business student is familiar with the four Ps:

  • Product: the good or service being offered to consumers
  • Price: What will be charged for the product or service
  • Promotion: The efforts taken to make consumers aware of the product, including advertising and public relationship
  • Place: the logistics of getting the product or service to the consumer

    Today, however, it’s worth considering three additional Ps, starting with people. Even the most automated of companies need to consider the role people play in delivering goods and services to the end user. Customer service can make or break the buying experience; some companies like Nordstrom, REI and Apple have made customer service a core part of their brands.

    Process is the second additional P in the marketing mix. It describes the efforts required to execute and deliver the goods and services to the end consumer. While this concept overlaps with supply chain management, production and operations, the marketing implications cannot be ignored. Improving the process will improve the overall marketing effort.

    Physical evidence is the last of the additional Ps to consider. Consumers want something tangible in return for the money they have spent. This is especially true for services, where there may not be a physical product delivered, and in these cases a printed report or other collateral might be recommended. For companies delivering goods, the physical evidence is the product itself, packaging, branding and even store design.

    Experience

    Internships look impressive on a resume — or do they? What matters is what the student learned during the internship, not simply where he or she worked. As writer Anum Hussain puts it: “Students have accepted this false notion that even if you’re just answering phones, the fact that you had some big company’s name on your resume will get you a job. It might get you in the door for an interview, but if you can’t share the benefit you provide to the company, you won’t be seen as a valuable resource.”

    Hussain recommends students seek out internship opportunities where they can learn and apply a variety of skills. She also says students should look for internships in a variety of settings — at a marketing firm one summer, and in an in-house marketing department the next.

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