Sunday, November 18, 2012

Without Marketing, Nothing Happens.

Marketing is a peculiar career choice. I’m not completely sure it isn’t the new “undecided” major in college these days. I may have concluded this in part as a result of speaking to a group of college students at Saint Louis University chapter of the American Marketing Association. I was told by a faculty advisor at the school that Marketing was the most popular choice of major for incoming students. That got me thinking.
Anyone who has studied marketing will tell you that the discipline of marketing is considerably more elusive than the body of knowledge that a student of accounting, finance,  or architecture to name a few. I mean you’re not going to hire an accountant who doesn’t know the principals of depreciating assets. You aren’t going to hire an estate planner who doesn’t know how explain various transfer taxes. You aren’t going to hire an architect who can’t show you a set of building plans. So I decided to begin my presentation to this student group by asking what attracted them to marketing in the first place.

There was a range of answers. Some students wanted to pursue communications related fields (advertising, public relations or media) and they felt a grasp of marketing would be a good foundation for that career path. Others felt that marketing was basically “sales” and they felt that was where the money is in business. Still others had a combination of reasons why they thought marketing was a worthwhile major course of study that might prepare them for whatever road they ultimately chose.

Most marketing textbooks have two or three run-on sentences that define marketing. That’s okay. It’s even okay for students to feel that marketing is a way of thinking. It’s okay to have an open mind to the possibilities your future may hold. I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the line people started getting the notion that the investment in education (especially college) must  somehow be directly pointed in the direction of a specific job. That being said, it is important to note that, elusive or not: without marketing, nothing happens!

That’s because the fundamental reality is that marketing is part of nearly every career choice. It is in every single business transaction. Whatever framework or model you want to apply to your business, you are going to ultimately face the fact that some portion of your interactions are going to fall squarely in that fuzzy area called marketing. I have known engineers who have told me straight up that “marketing is soft” and that is isn’t scientific enough. Well, that may be true but try to sell something without it. Try to convince someone that your product is better than the competition based only on the superior engineering. (I know what you’re thinking – Mercedes Benz – only partially true. Status and prestige are not engineering and as important a reason for the purchase of a Mercedes.)  Even engineers makes emotional choices about brands and what those brand choices say about the individual.   

No comments: