It’s important to get the basics right...

It’s important to get the basics right...

Marketing jobs were considered to be dream jobs in the 70s and 80s. Invariably, you had to begin in field sales before moving up the ladder and taking up higher responsibilities. Over the years, marketing has been attracting creative individuals and enabling them to form an enviable career path. However, today, marketing, on the whole, is undergoing a sea change with every industry metamorphosing and offering various opportunities. And, with the advancement of technologies and evolving new fields including digital and social media, businesses are constantly transforming their functioning methods and deliverables, inviting more and more millennials to be part of this rapidly growing landscape.

Be it an aspiring MBA or a professional planning for a transition, marketing continues to be a popular career choice even today. Notwithstanding the fact that marketing has a high rate of interest with multiple prospects, it is also laden with risks while making managerial decisions, especially to those who skip the basics and begin with digital marketing directly. True to the sentiment and time organisations are going digital. That said, an aspiring marketer needs to have a strong knowledge of the fundamentals before jumping into the digital techniques. 

Traditional vs digital 

Marketing resides in the process of ‘create, communicate, and deliver value to a target customer at a profit” (CCDVTP). To achieve this and ensure profitability, businesses work in two ways:

Traditional Marketing:  This refers to the conventional methods of marketing using promotion of any product through print advertisement, newsletters, billboards, etc. 

Digital Marketing: This refers to methods using the digital medium, mainly on the internet, and technologies including mobile phones, apps etc.  

Historically, in India, traditional marketing has been successful through offline promotional methods, face to face selling, cold-calling, allowing direct connection with a consumer. Traditional practices also mould you with skills required for marketing— how to structure and value a product, how to interact with a consumer and improvise verbal communication skills. Whereas the digital method completely deals with a virtual world and lacks physical connect. A significant growth in recent years and new skill sets such as analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and well paid secured jobs have been some of the benefits of digital marketing. 

Integrating the two

Although the growth in online marketing has been phenomenal in recent years, tech companies and researchers are constantly looking at ways to offer digital services that surpass TV and offline space. With Netflix and Amazon expanding their market presence, TV is being consumed digitally these days. However, to sell these products and cater to the needs of consumers, a marketer should immerse and understand the language of things (value, consumer behaviour, pricing) as well as the Internet of things. And, this can be achieved only with a strong base of the traditional method. According to an Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) report, consumers rated that they still prefer Print and TV over digital media. Given that in India 91% is still traditional retailing and 84% is non-digital advertising, professionals, as well as millennials, should look at these advantages and understand the strategic side of going for basics. 

Merging of technologies, cost factor, real-time engagement can be interesting, enticing millennials towards digital marketing as a career. But, on the flip side, one must be aware of the fact that these are also leading to tech disruptions, exposing personal information, an example being the recent Facebook data breach.

Balancing the right mix of both is one of the best ways to specialise in marketing. And, doing that in a classroom environment enriches one with more conversations, debates and live demonstrations of marketing techniques. The emergence of new tech skills is going to be a never-ending cycle. But, as a marketer, on a long run, bringing more skill sets on the table with basics in core marketing values, enables to strengthen your career and role in an organisation. 

That said, there are plenty of career opportunities if one is planning to go for marketing, as the field itself is diverse. Some of the trending jobs in the market are marketing and sales specialist, brand manager, advertising specialist, research analyst, sales and business development, and if you are planning to shift into communications team in an organisation, with the digital skill set you will be able to land up in a post of a social media manager or an SEO specialist.

(The author is a professor, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai)