Do you need a degree to be a marketer?

Mo Dezyanian
Apr 13, 2018 · 3 min read

Only 4 out of 24 — 1 in 6 — marketing experts have a formal education in marketing! That’s shocking, this article claims.

I agree! And let’s not worry that the article is written by a professor trying to sell a marketing certificate, because it raises a greater point: too many marketers focus on the promotions aspect of marketing, and ignore the other 3 Ps (more on the 4 Ps in just a bit):

“It’s clear from even a cursory examination of the list that these people are actually experts in just one area of marketing — communications.”

So … if you want to be a true expert in marketing … what do you need to know? And do you need a degree to learn it?

Here’s my take. Today, top-flight marketing requires a 360° view of the business, touching on more than just the 4 Ps — product, promotion, price and place — and moving into finance, infrastructure and culture — to name but a few. There’s a reason why CMOs are being touted as the next generation CEOs.

You may remember my article on the new shareholder equation, not too long ago. And that the new shareholder equation — is a direct consequence of the digital age.

With all that, what does a good marketer need to know?

I asked Mark John Stewart, President at FlyPrint and a professor in strategic management with the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program, what his thoughts were. Here is what he had to say:

A good marketer operates at the intersection of the market itself and all of the functional internal areas of an organization — it’s a highly strategic role.

Example: Taking feedback from the reception of a product or service back into the organization and actively influencing its future development.

Marketing agencies typically tell clients that they will help them undertake marketing initiatives to reach their goals. However, a lot of organizations actually need advice and guidance with setting appropriate goals, strategic planning, and other operational areas. What good is executing a promotional campaign if the supply chain can’t deliver the product effectively, or if the margins of the current business model are not profitable? As a marketer, whether employee or consultant, your value is greatly enhanced when you are able to put forth marketing suggestions that consider the full scope of an organization’s activities and how they relate.

So there you have it — you need to get how business works. You need to understand basic accounting and finance to be able to understand the financial impact of marketing and the ROI metric. You need to have a grasp on HR and management theory to be able to influence culture. And of course you need to be up in information systems and technology.

Thinking strategically

But most importantly, you need to think strategically. How to envision, plan, and execute the actions that lead to business success.

As just one example, the best marketing plan ever won’t succeed if a new product or service offered isn’t aligned with the organization offering it. This means that top marketers have to be able to detect issues like that gap in alignment, and be able and willing to step up and ask the really tough questions.

Now for the big question. Do you need a degree to gain that knowledge? Of course not.

But — if you are thinking of getting a degree in order to help your marketing career, I would recommend looking into a business degree rather than a marketing certificate.

Empathy Inc. — Occasional Insights

Thought leadership about business, marketing, and media

Mo Dezyanian

Written by

Marketer. Climber. Dada. President of Empathy Inc.

Empathy Inc. — Occasional Insights

Thought leadership about business, marketing, and media

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