Marketing is the sum of activities involved in directing the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers. In other words, it is ideally about identifying what customers and stakeholders need and value, and creating and delivering an offer that is valued by them, in a mutually profitable manner. In advanced industrial economies, marketing considerations play a major role in establishing corporate policies. Where once marketing departments were primarily concerned with increasing sales through advertising and other promotional techniques, they now concern themselves with product development, customer support, personal sales, distribution and corporate communication/PR.
What do they do?
Few professions offer as much variety and scope as marketing. “The main activities of the marketing department of an organisation are advertising and public relations, market research, pricing and monitoring competition,” says Sanjay Sibal, vice-president, sales and marketing, Jenson & Nicholson (India) Ltd, the paints company.
It is this “variety” that drew Anu Anamika, 36, to this profession. Anamika, who did her executive MBA from IIM, Kozhikode, started out as a junior account executive in an advertising firm in 1998. Marketing “happened as a natural progression from advertising and communication”, says Anamika, who is now marketing manager, Suzuki Motorcycle India.
To her, the basic purpose of marketing “is to get your message across to a customer, in as little cost as possible, to motivate him/her to purchase your product”. To her boss Atul Gupta, VP, sales and marketing, Suzuki Motorcycle India, marketing is about “understanding your product/service and application of common sense”. According to Amit Mookerjee, associate professor, marketing, IIM, Lucknow-Noida campus, the primary role of marketing is “to create and maintain a long-term relationship of mutually beneficial exchange of values, with selected stakeholders, including customers”. And this is done by “creating and delivering the value that is sought by the customers”, he says.
Stakeholders with whom marketers typically engage are customers, and the partners in trade/business who help the company reach out to those very customers. “The main focus of any marketing team is to first understand the customers’ need and then to create a campaign so as to increase the customers’ understanding of existing products and services,” says Sibal.
The job of a marketing manager is by no means easy. At a senior decision-making level, “he identifies customer needs and specifies the market in which the company will do business”, says Mookerjee. He is required to help identify the products and services that the company will offer, “using market research and other sources of information”. “The segment of customers to be targeted by the company within this market, and the positioning and branding of their offers are key strategy aspects that s/he will develop,” adds Mookerjee. After identifying the value that the company will offer to customers, comes the final stage, the delivery – communication and the flow of goods and services to the end-users via channels or directly.
“The largest number of marketing jobs is in sales and channel management across territories and regions; organised retailing; media, PR and advertising, event management; distribution and logistics; customer services, etc,” points out Mookerjee. With the advent of digital marketing, the demand for able professionals has only increased.
As India develops into a high-growth market, with a degree of competition in most sectors and a wide array of choices for the customers, “the role of marketers will get more strategic as companies learn to become more customer-centric and adopt CRM (customer relationship management) in an integrated manner,” says Mookerjee. “The challenge will be to think long-term and ensure short-term profit and revenue,” he points out.
. People management and interpersonal skills
. Listening as well as communicating
. Ability to handle severe pressure and deadlines
. Being good with numbers is a plus point, as analytical skills are required to grow in the profession
. Familiarity with database applications and other computer-related skills
. Creativity, motivation, organisation and a decisive nature
How do I get there?
A management degree is a must for career growth. One may start as a product executive and then move on to become a brand manager and then a marketing manger. According to some experts, it is also extremely important for any successful marketing person to have a stint as a field salesperson.
There are, however, examples where an ordinary graduate with the right aptitude has done well in marketing.
People with professional qualifications in advertising and communications could also do well in this field.