A marketing career seems something that you could give an arm and a leg for if reports are to be believed. It is all about glamour, travel, commercials being shot in New Zealand and celebrity shoots with Priyanka Chopra! Well while some of it may be true it may include van trips in UP with the salesman selling detergents. To sum up marketing can mean travel not only to exotic places, strange food, and dusty roads but it could also give you an opportunity to meet new people, learn different languages and customs but more significantly grow faster and earn more than some of your classmates at management school.
Who should get into marketing?
Before we understand your suitability for marketing it is first important to debug some classic myths about marketing and its people.
Myth no 1.
Marketing people are smooth talking, chain smoking, and beer guzzling people.... what a clanger that is! Marketing people or the smarter ones think before they speak. They are hardly the hail fellow, well met but people who have strong relationships with their clients and partners like dealers.
Marketing is sales. Hardly, marketing is about branding, advertising, distribution, pricing, market research and a whole lot more.
So if you are to be successful in marketing, you need to be interested in products, people and their behaviour. You must be willing to travel, definitely from your home town and be open to different people, languages, food and cultures.
You must be a good communicator who is constantly willing to learn and make mistakes. Your mind must be constantly alert to new opportunities and behaviour changes. Why are people buying more and more stuff online today is one such question that must interest you.
So what must you do?
If you are a first year student, it would help if you did your projects, internships and just about everything in marketing. Be a part of social media groups of the community. Read the business sections of the newspapers and definitely the trade web sites like exchange4media and Agencyfaqs. Definitely do your two month summer project in marketing.
In the second year do a specialisation in marketing which will give you an understanding of the whole process - sales management, brand management, advertising, distribution and product management definitely and certainly market research. Audit courses if you find yourself unable to do everything that the institute offers. Push your student representatives to do marketing seminars and workshops.
You are what you know
I hate talking about myself but I must make a point here. In my two years at management school I took it upon myself to read every book on advertising that was there in the IIM Bangalore library and testimony to that is the power of my spectacles! But seriously today you are more fortunately placed. Everything that you need to know is on the tip of your fingers thanks to Google. And yet a word of caution is in order here. Not everything you read on the net is gospel truth. Anyone can post an opinion online and often some people have an agenda. So sift through information, ask questions in class and during guest lectures and read text books as they are more reliable.
What do you want to do?
I was clear I wanted to do advertising. I was in love with that. Nothing else mattered. So my choice was simple. Yours may not be so simple. You need to research, speak to your teachers, the guest faculty and your seniors to understand the job market place. Where do the opportunities exist? Is it sales or is it logistics thanks to the Flipkarts of the world. Is it analytics which points you to the direction of market research? Remember that these are important choices. But in management school look for a combination of subjects which will help your career and don’t be fixated with a specialization. Choose carefully. So consumer behaviour for instance would be attractive to me as it would help me in my marketing career even if it meant I sacrificed another course in a different stream.
All around us are words of wisdom and success stories of people who have been there done that. Try to understand their life paths and career choices. David Ogilvy was a cook before he became the greatest copywriter of his time. Remember too that every experience, every learning will have some value somewhere. Make the most of your two years at management school and soon enough you will provide value to your employer and those around you.
Welcome to the world of ideas and innovation!