The interaction between stakeholders in the marketing landscape has evolved at the onset of technological advancement. Businesses are no longer limited to relying on print media for advertisement. They have been quick to utilise television -- and later, the Internet -- to stand out by adding value to consumers' lives, interacting with them meaningfully, and occupying their mindshare. Marketers acquire knowledge about their target group, cultivate requisite skills, and make evidence-based decisions to do so.
Now the questions arise: What skills does one need to excel in such a challenging role? Is it important to get a university degree in marketing to perform well in a marketing job? This article aims to answer these key questions.
Outlining and addressing the needs, wants, and demands of the target consumers are one of the core objectives of marketing professionals. "What helps us craft messages appealing to the target market is making an effort to know the target group, their hopes and dreams, motivations, pain points and even songs they listen to," says Adnan Khan, the CEO of Scratchboard, a marketing agency dedicated to providing customised solutions for their clientele. "I think the best marketers are those who can market items in the remotest regions by deciphering the needs and lifestyle choices of target buyers despite sitting in skyscrapers in a megacity themselves," he says.
Once businesses know their customers, it is important for them to first brainstorm how to reach the goal, then design the workflow and delegate tasks to the team. At Scratchboard, work is delegated to employees according to their unique skill-sets. "While aiming to build a career in this field, you should determine which segment of marketing you want to specialise in. If design interests you, you should pursue illustration. Learning about colour and shape theories would help in this regard. Again, if you want to work in content/copywriting, polishing your composition skills is needed," continues Adnan Khan.
To ensure effectiveness in all the stages of marketing, integrating subject knowledge with practical skills is essential. Rafid Sadman Eesha who works in the Marketing and Growth department at AlpineDefi, a US-based company building easy and affordable ways to earn and grow crypto assets with Decentralised Finance (DeFi), emphasises this.
"Having a sound knowledge of theoretical frameworks helps us set goals, track progress, and innovate solutions. These frameworks do not have to be overly complicated; in fact, the simpler ones have yielded better results in my experience," he says. He highlights how the ability to conduct in-depth research, learn fast and continuously, and keep up with the market trends are key for professionals keen on maintaining a public conversation about their services. Taking an analytics-driven approach can further expedite this process.
"As someone responsible for marketing an unconventional set of asset classes, I have to keep two primary things in mind. Firstly, our target group consists of both crypto-native and crypto-curious people. As such, I generate advanced as well as simpler content from which both groups can derive value. Secondly, our team is setting up two dashboards to gain insights into customer engagements, preferences, and other variables of interest. I am actually building these dashboards in-house to quantify the effectiveness of the content we generate. Incorporating my knowledge in analytics has helped me do better at marketing and contribute to improving our current workflow to bring forth positive responses from the target groups in the coming days." says Rafid Sadman Eesha.
In addition to skills intrinsic to the job, an attribute that employers in this industry value is professionalism. Components of professionalism include scheduling tasks, managing workload, and organising work as per requirement. The ability to self-learn can go a long way for marketers. Self-teaching using resources on the internet at the early stages of his career helped Adnan Khan realise the most important aspects of marketing. "As someone without a degree in marketing, going through relevant resources helped me learn ways to optimise each stage of the marketing funnel to acquire customers," he says. "A good place to start for those interested in digital marketing would be exploring courses offered by Google Digital Garage and Hubspot Academy. Besides, books such as 'The 1-Page Marketing Plan' by Allan Dib and 'Dotcom Secrets' by Russel Brunson illustrate how the marketing landscape works. I also recommend following the works of industry pioneers and disruptors such as Neil Patel. Aside from these active means of learning, we can passively learn by following big brands such as Starbuck, Snickers, Burger King etc. to note their branding tactics." highlights Adnan Khan. These small-scale exposures add up to a lot of learning at the end of the day.
Now that it is easier than ever to access resources, hurdles in the way of someone trying to become a marketer are minimised. Having a university degree in marketing does not act as a qualifier or a disqualifier in this regard. Given the nature of this role, employers look at the set of skills and expertise someone has before recruiting them. Rafid Sadman Eesha debunks this issue eloquently: "The goals of our company are clearly defined. With this in mind, I set specific objectives in a quantifiable, measurable, and time-bound manner at the beginning of each week to get the job done. Now, do I have a university degree in marketing? No. Do I use the knowledge I gained from various resources to effectively do my work? Definitely."
The writer is a fourth-year BBA student at IBA (DU) majoring in Finance.