There are so many different types of jobs that fit under the heading of a “marketing” career that it’s tough to make any blanket statement about how marketers are doing in the current economy. While there’s no doubt that advertising has contracted in the current recession, it’s also true that companies of all types have kept looking for new ways to get sell their products. New approaches are constantly being tried on the internet, television, direct mail, public relations and every other possible venue as companies work hard to get more bang for their marketing dollar. It’s also true that entities like non-profits, politicians and professionals have become interested in using the most up-to-date marketing techniques, creating opportunities for online marketing degree holders that did not exist a decade or so ago.
No matter what are of marketing you go into, it’s likely that you’ll be better positioned to get a marketing job if you choose an undergraduate or graduate program that gives you a broad knowledge base in some key areas:
Online marketing: The internet continues to take advertising share from print and other media. Having a good understanding of web site design, content strategy, social media and online marketing metrics is practically a must to get on the fast track today as a marketing professional. If you are focused on direct marketing, understanding databases is extremely important.
Cross-media branding: Knowing how to create strong brand messages and how to measure their effect remains a key if you hope to become a marketing director. It requires a combination of creativity and statistical understanding.
Communication and Management Skills: Marketing experts have to get their message across to everyone from the salespeople to senior management, to convince people to invest in new marketing campaigns and then prove their effectiveness. Writing and selling skills are as important in this career specialty today as they ever were.
A key choice that will affect your marketing career and the salary you earn is whether you want to work for an agency – which could specialize in anything from direct mail to television campaigns for large companies like Microsoft – or in the in-house marketing department of a company. It’s possible to earn a high salary in either of these two areas. Generally, ad agency workers start at very low salaries but can increase their earnings quite a bit as they move up, while in-house marketing people tend to have more stable jobs that pay a bit less over time. Agency work tends to be the more stressful path. Here are some key positions to consider:
Media Planner One of the most popular entry level marketing jobs. Media planners create plans for where clients should place their ads on TV, in print, online or elsewhere to reach their target buyer audience. Salary $35,000 – $45,000, with media directors able to earn $60,000 – $85,000
Account Manager / Executive / Supervisor Job entails maintaining relationship with existing clients, discussing overall marketing strategy with them, making presentations on the results of ad campaigns and generally keeping them happy with the agency’s work so they will stay on as clients. A “semi-sales” position (new clients are generally brought into an agency by a separate staff of very highly paid salespeople know as “rainmakers”). Salaries run from $50,000 – $70,000 for managers and up to $100,000 for supervisors, who may handle multiple large accounts and have several account managers reporting to them.
Creatives: Designer, Copywriter, Creative Director Creative marketing careers usually run a very wide gamut in terms of salaries. A copywriter who works on promotions or small company campaigns can earn well under $35,000. But a creative director who gets a reputation for coming up with ideas that get used in large campaigns can become one of the most important persons in an agency. A creative director who manages the campaigns several clients and has a team of writers and designers working under him/her can earn well over $150,000, and some of the most creative directors are very successful striking out and starting their own agencies.
Designers have generally split into two groups in recent years – the ones who work on traditional print and catalogue design and those who are more oriented to website design. Interactive designers generally earn more and have a more positive career path ahead of them at present. Traditional graphic designers with a print orientation are not highly remunerated, as many agencies look to use freelancers with no benefits rather than full time employees for this marketing advertising job. Graphic designers at an agency that does a good deal of direct mail and catalogue work can earn over $35,000, but many other designers without interactive skill struggle to earn over $20,000 per year.
Company Marketing Departments
Marketing Manager / Directors At the entry level, this job involves organizing reports on company marketing activities and helping to supply info and advertising materials to outside agencies. Marketing directors get more in involved in “selling” a marketing strategy to key players inside the company, to get them to approve a budget for advertising, PR, promotions or any other company marketing. This person will also help the company choose an advertising agency. The job requires a combination of creativity, analytic skills and team management skill. In a business to business or “B2B” company, this type of job pays in a range from $45,000 to over $125,000. Marketing managers and directors at large consumer companies earn salaries in the $50,000 to $160,000 range. Keep in mind, however, company marketing people often move up beyond the marketing department into very senior positions including, sometimes, CEO.
Brand Manager This is a person who generally focuses on one particular product line and deals with all the different marketing efforts needed to reach sales goals. Companies with lots of different products, like big technology companies for example, will have a different brand manager working on each product line. This is a bit more of an execution-type job than the more strategic function of the marketing director. An assistant product or brand manager can earn about $30,000, while more senior brand managers with experience can earn as much as $140,000. Most marketing degree programs provide the kind of training that can get you an entry level brand management position, which can be a good stepping stone to a marketing director job.
Project Manager Usually a tech-savvy person who helps manage the execution of website enhancements, special printing projects or any other complex marketing project a company is undertaking. Job requires excellent organizational skills and an ability to handle people calmly in high-pressure situations. Salary $40,000 – 75,000
Market researchers help companies figure out what customers want before new products and marketing campaigns are developed. They use both “primary” research – meaning focus groups and surveys where they get information from customers directly, and “secondary” research from reports done by outside marketing agencies. Market researchers exist inside company marketing departments, at ad agencies and at free-standing marketing research companies like IDC, which researches technology market trends, and JD Powers, which provides research to the auto industry.
People who organize research projects can be market analysts (sometimes called “marketing research analyst”) or research project directors. They earn salaries in a wide range from $25,000 to $75,000 depending on seniority and experience. Marketing research directors can earn far more – up to $175,000 in some cases. But in addition to a very deep understanding of marketing research techniques and analysis, people in this position need to have excellent sales and client management skills, because they are the ones who work with clients or senior management within a company to design surveys and figure out how to use the results they generate. Because companies pay, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars for major market research projects, the position requires a very high level skill and professionalism.