As the role of the marketer becomes more complex, organizations require a specialized skill set for those entering the marketplace. Unfortunately, a bachelor’s degree in marketing doesn’t mean that the graduate is prepared for real world. Think about it. If you were hiring a young (or not so young) graduate, what marketing curriculum coursework would you like that individual to have studied? Here’s a beginning list to consider.
Marketing Curriculum Essentials
1. Overview of Business Strategy: Although most recent graduates will enter the workplace with little real-world experience, they need to have a big-picture understanding of how successful organizations operate and thrive. Coursework should include:
- Content about the definition of business strategy
- The value of creating short- and long-term plans
- How to create the corporate vision, mission and value statements
- Brand identification and development
- Organizational structure and roles
- An understanding of the concept of return on investment, and
- Corporate communications.
2. Sales and Business Development: Most business schools omit this critical topic in the curriculum, especially at the undergraduate level. But understanding how and why people buy products or services is the first step in producing revenue. Content for this class would include:
- How to identify the right target markets
- How to qualify and rate prospects
- What it means to be a sales professional
- Listening skills
- How to create and deliver an exceptional presentation
- How to write proposals
- Contract-negotiation skills
- Team building and leadership skills, and
- The difference between sales and marketing.
3. Customer Relationship Management: Business development and sales professionals spend a lot of time and effort bringing in new accounts. What they need afterwards is to build loyalty and trust to create long-term, meaningful and profitable relationships. This requires excellent interpersonal skills to identify and exceed customer expectations, communication skills to reach out consistently with everyone involved in a customer’s project, knowledge and use of conflict-resolutions skills and the ability to look for new business opportunities. In addition to these skills, graduates should have a functional knowledge of leading CRM systems and functions.
4. Marketing Communications: If “content is king,” then professional marketers need to learn how to speak, write and deliver on-target messaging at the right time to the right audience. These communications can consist of corporate presentations, annual reports, email campaigns, articles, white papers, case studies, newsletters or other business formats. Further, it is important for marketers to know how to use their left and right-brain skills to create compelling content that accomplishes the desired goal, while being sensitive to cross-culture and other diversity issues that impact messaging effectiveness.
5. Digital Marketing: Knowing how to attract, engage and convert customers online is the essence of digital marketing. This course would contain information about:
- Social media
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- How to create integrated marketing campaigns
- The advantages and disadvantages of digital marketing
- Free vs. paid opportunities
- Video production
- Website development
- E-commerce, and
- An exploration of emerging tools that help marketers excel in the digital environment.
6. Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, Market Research: The ability to collect information, analyze it and use it to make better marketing (and business) decisions is critical. In order to synthesize information and know what’s of value and what isn’t requires an understanding beyond sales and marketing that includes inventory control and supply-chain management, production, customer service, finance and accounting, information technology and operational functions. Primary, secondary and informal research findings supplement and/or reinforce the business-intelligence and data-analytics process.
7. Traditional Marketing: Before the internet, companies used a variety of activities to reach their target audiences. Knowing which of these tactics is still important in a competitive global and digital economy helps marketers find the right balance. Traditional marketing includes four key mediums:
- Direct mail, and
In addition, understanding how and when to participate in tradeshows, live events, media tours and other forms of public-relations activity is essential.
The Importance of Continually Learning
Marketing, like every other aspect of business, is changing faster than the speed of light. To keep up, marketers need to be both generalists and specialists. For those who fell into marketing without a solid academic marketing curriculum foundation, consider taking courses in each of the areas listed above and keep learning.