Creativity and innovation have always been at the core of marketing. The function used to depend on one’s talent to dazzle the audience, like Mad Men's Don Draper. Creativity and innovation are still very important, but are being enhanced by data and technology. Marketing is one of the fastest-changing professions of the 21st century, with neuroscience, artificial intelligence and data analytics reshaping the work.
“Marketers are increasingly expected to make evidence-based and accountable decisions leveraging on vast data generated in the inter-connected world,” says Shan Chen, Director of the International Master in Marketing Management, Omnichannel and Consumer Analytics course at MIP in Milan. The program is one of many that are being given a digital reboot as technology transforms every facet of marketing.
“We continuously innovate and update the program with technological progress,” says Chen. For example, the applications of neuroscience in consumer research have been recently introduced — essentially using brain science to appeal to customers on an emotional level.
Another crucial skill is data analytics. “The ways in which marketers collect data, innovate, and communicate are constantly changing,” says Dr Marius Luedicke, Reader in Marketing at London’s Cass Business School, which runs a Marketing Strategy and Innovation MSc. Planning cycles for advertising campaigns, for example, have shortened from years to months and sometimes minutes. “Software algorithms make crucial decisions on whom to display ads to and aggregate consumers’ sentiments about a brand in real time,” says Luedicke.
At Cass, students learn how to use digital media effectively through the distinct Digital Marketing & Social Media module. Other technological innovations, such as programmatic advertising, crowed-based innovation and big data analysis are covered in the MSc too. A future-gazing course addresses emerging technologies that could shape the way marketing is done, including AI, autonomous machines and biotechnology.
But marketers don’t necessarily need to be data scientists or software engineers themselves, says Dr Lindsay Stringfellow, Programme Director of MSc Marketing at the UK’s University of Exeter Business School. “But they will need to appreciate how technology and data can be harnessed to achieve marketing objectives such as enhanced customer understanding, effective communication, and making improvements to the customer journey,” she says.
Marketing is both an art and science, says Stringfellow. “If you look at leading global brands such as Apple, their success undoubtedly hinges on their superior skills in terms creativity and innovation. To be outstanding marketers, these soft skills are vital.” For example, an over-reliance on analysing spreadsheets could lead a brand manager to underestimate the symbolic and cultural meaning of brands, which Stringfellow says are ultimately the foundation of their resonance with consumers.
Luedicke, at Cass might agree. “It is this compelling combination of creativity and analytical thinking that makes the marketing profession so unique,” he says. Through the Brand Management module at Cass, students take part in an applied project where they take creative ideas and turn them into persuasive marketing campaigns.
Those who have this magic mixture of technological prowess, creativity and ability to innovate, are in high demand among a wide array of employers. Graduates of the Cass program are well prepared to start careers as analysts, creative planners, consultants, or assistant brand managers. They work at such companies as Unilever, Google, Interbrand, Unruly Media, Goldman Sachs, Tesco, Nestle, and Merkle. Others take more senior roles in family businesses, or start their own company.
“Jobs in marketing can be found in every sector, including nonprofit and government agencies, professional services, B2B and B2C, multinational firms as well as medium and small players,” says Exeter’s Stringfellow. She says her graduates have gone on to work in areas like market research, digital marketing, public relations, brand management, product innovation, consultancy, event management, and knowledge leadership.
MIP’s graduates find career opportunities in three main areas. The first is the in-house marketing department, usually in larger corporations, with responsibilities such as product management, communication and promotion, PR, marketing intelligence, CRM or strategy.
The second is consultancy, which helps clients to analyze the marketing condition, to define strategy, to develop marketing tools, and to make project execution plans. The third is various specialized marketing agencies, such as advertising, digital marketing, design and content production. They execute the respective marketing activities on a daily basis for their clients.
The wide array of career opportunities is reflected in the diversity of the cohorts. At MIP, candidates can come from any discipline, provided they have a proven passion for all aspects of marketing. Cass says participants learn from students from chemistry, physics, fashion design, architecture, engineering, sociology, philosophy and other backgrounds.
Given such impressive career opportunities, it may be competitive to secure a place on a top marketing master’s program. Entry requirements at MIP include a motivation letter, reference letters, university transcripts and a motivational interview, which is all done in English. Other schools have similar requirements. Luedicke, at Cass, advises: “We recommend to spend time and effort on crafting a compelling personal statement that explains why Cass is the right place for the students and what the student will contribute to the classroom.”