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A Day in the Life of a Marketing Executive

A marketing executive directs the marketing of a company’s products or services. Marketing executives know the company’s product line, historical market, potential market, media costs, media response, and budgeting issues. Marketers often have to be intimate with a number of advertising media, such as radio, television, phone solicitation, mail campaigns, and promotional events. Their most difficult task is determining how best to take advantage of any or all of them to promote their product. In addition, “You have to know when to sell your own product, and when to mow down the other guy’s product,” said one New York marketing executive. Marketing takes three basic forms: Positive marketing (the benefits of your product or service), educational marketing (developing a demand for your product by educating people about their needs, such as mouthwash marketers talking about gingivitis), and negative marketing (revealing the flaws in a competitor’s product). Knowing when to do which and how is both the science and art that marketing executives practice. Most marketing executives spend significant time analyzing demographics, regional sales figures, and the competition. However, more than one marketer told us that in the end, marketing is all about “common sense.” Many said a general approach to the industry is useless each product has one specific trait, detail or role that is unique and valuable, and all the marketing executive does is apply common sense to the promotion of that trait. Another marketer put it this way: A marketing executive has to be able to recognize “unexplored potentialities” that can turn a low-selling item into a large-selling item, and a large-selling item into a mega-hit. The pressure is significant, but it has one advantage: Marketers always know how they’re doing, as tracked by an increase or decrease in sales. External events may drive demand for a product in one direction or another; it’s the marketer’s job to respond to these shifts and take advantage of them. Excuses for low sales don’t go over well. Marketers often work hand-in-hand with developers, advertisers, and production managers to ensure a product’s successful promotion. However, a number of marketers mentioned that although they are called in to consult on production decisions, such as product design, color, and even box shape, “many of the decisions are made without our consent anyway.” A marketer has to be creative, confident, and thick-skinned-marketing personnel get fired at an above average rate. Nevertheless, creative thinkers with the ability to analyze statistics and work out long-term logistical plans find sound homes in marketing divisions, where all their skills are needed to successfully launch a product or maintain a product’s sales.

Paying Your Dues

Marketing executives have no formal educational requirements, but most employers require a college degree. Valued courses include marketing, statistics, advertising, psychology, sociology, business, finance, economics, and history. Communication skills are very important, so any writing experience is appreciated. Marketing executives need know their product line and its unique features, so special requirements may apply for those in science, mechanical, medical, or computer-based industries. Professional education is the norm in this occupation, with many marketers attending at least two seminars or lectures a year. Certification is available from a number of professional societies (such as the American Marketing Association and Marketing Executives International), but employers do not require it.

Present and Future

Marketing used to be the prerogative of the owner, who made all the decisions about the product line, packaging, and advertising, and negotiated all contracts. The rapid growth of a consumer society has made that one-man-shop untenable, and most companies now hire marketing specialists to ensure that daily marketing management is handled by qualified professionals. Many marketing positions will become available over the next ten years, as many current marketers retire, resign, or move into management positions, but the competition for these positions is expected to intensify. Candidates with more academic credentials will have an advantage, and those who engage in continuing education should be more secure in their positions than those who do not.

Quality of Life

PRESENT AND FUTURE

Two-year marketing executives are assistants, market researchers, and junior marketing personnel as they make the transition from the marketing theory they learned in school to the reality of how the industry functions. Owners make all final decisions regardless of market research or sage advice, and that is one important lesson demonstrated to the new hire. Hours can be long as assistants assemble all data into forms that more senior, strategic marketers can use. Contact with other departments (such as advertising and product design) is limited. Salaries and satisfaction are low.

FIVE YEARS OUT

The work has become more interesting and better paid, and responsibilities have increased. Many are now “marketing executives” or “strategic marketers” with either high-profile positions on marketing teams or lead positions on small products and promotions. Ambitious employees use their few spare hours to get graduate degrees in marketing, finance, or advertising to help them advance beyond their current positions. Within two years, a massive job-swap takes place in the industry-the seven-year-itch strikes hard, as around twenty-five percent of the workforce changes employers in years seven through nine.

TEN YEARS OUT

As part of a strategic planning team, ten-year veterans review the reports written by more junior marketers and make recommendations to appropriate departments, with which they now have regular contact. They analyze less and communicate more, translating the work their department does into a form usable by other departments. Hours decrease; salaries and satisfaction increase.