Marketing is a popular field of choice for new college students, but many students choose it without fully understanding its true potential, or what it exactly entails. Before you finalize your choice and start signing up for classes, it’s important you think through the details and aspects of the major.
Elements of the Marketing Major
These are some of the most important considerations you’ll face when debating whether to major in marketing:
- Your personal interest. Your personal interest plays a huge role both in your chances for academic success, and the sustainability of your future career long-term. Some people will naturally gravitate towards marketing because they’re genuinely fascinated by the creative possibilities. Others will be drawn to it because they want to study demographic trends, and thrive on statistical analyses. Still others will have practically zero interest in marketing, finding it boring, uninspiring, or overly corporate in nature. Don’t choose the major just because you think it has suitable earning potential; make sure you’re actually invested in it.
- Career flexibility. Marketing is a field with tons of potential for long-term growth, but one of its biggest advantages is the sheer number of potential career paths you could follow. Marketing is an enormous field, and you could spend your days doing almost anything. For example, you could become a data analyst ( Big Data ) and study demographic trends to inform marketing campaigns. You could become a content specialist, building valuable links to your employer’s site and writing detailed articles to encourage more conversions. You could become a graphic designer, sculpting logos and labels, and creating new ads from scratch.
- Fields of specialty. With that in mind, it may be useful for you to spend time studying a sub-field of marketing, choosing a minor that would improve your aptitude for a career in that area. For example, you could minor in data analysis, in business administration, in design, or in communications, depending on which direction you want to take. And if you aren’t sure which direction you want to take, you could take a wide variety of different classes to help you solidify your interests.
- The difference between marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising are two fields that frequently appear together, and are commonly used interchangeably, but they represent two different sides of the industry. Both have the same general direction (making consumers aware of and interested in products and services), but they’re executed and learned somewhat differently. Marketing is more heavily focused on research, analysis, and campaign development, while advertising is more focused on the execution of tangible strategies.
- The difference between marketing and business. Similarly, marketing is frequently confused with a general “business” degree. After all, both are pursued by people who want long-term careers building businesses, potentially from the ground up. In fact, most marketing majors will take at least one business course, and business majors will almost certainly spend a chunk of their time studying marketing and advertising. However, marketing won’t equip you with knowledge of other fundamental business principles or departments, like financial management, human resources, or long-term growth. It may not be an ideal major if you plan on starting your own business.
- The importance of continued education. Your marketing professors will do their best to educate you on the fundamental principles and current standards of marketing. However, you shouldn’t assume that your degree will adequately prepare you for an indefinite future in the field. Marketing and advertising are fields that are constantly evolving in the wake of new technologies, new trends, and new consumer preferences. If you want to be successful in the field, you need to be committed to ongoing learning and development—long after you graduate.
- The limits of your department. Not all departments are adequately equipped to give students an education based on the latest standards and practices. The half-life of marketing knowledge is short, thanks to the number of changes that occur on a regular basis. If your marketing professors, textbooks, or curriculum is more than a year or two behind, you could end up with an inferior education—and one that doesn’t prepare you for a real modern career.
Making the Decision
It may also be a good idea to experiment with different marketing classes, or expose yourself to marketing concepts in other ways. Shadowing someone already in a marketing field, or learning about marketing and advertising with online videos and articles can help you determine whether this is the best field of study for you. While you can always change your mind, it pays to think critically about your field of study before you invest any time (or money) in it.