Careers in Marketing

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Is a career in marketing for you? To be successful in a marketing career, an individual must have good communication, critical thinking, and people skills. In addition to these skills, a majority of individuals employed in marketing-related occupations possess excellent time-management skills, the ability to work with a wide variety of people, and a capacity for self-motivation. These individuals must be able to establish timelines, goals, and objectives and adhere to them.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of individuals who earn a living in marketing related careers: advertising, sales, or public relations has increased rapidly. In 2005 almost one-third of all U.S. workers were employed in marketing-related positions, and marketing principles were being applied to more and more business and nonbusiness organizationsservice firms, nonprofit institutions, political candidates, and so forth. Therefore, a high demand for individuals with marketing training was emerging as a critical criterion for employment in the twenty-first century. Two major explanations have been offered for the continuously increasing demand for marketing skills: deregulation of major industries (banking, telecommunications, and transportation) and increased foreign competition.

Considering the increased role of marketing in the U.S. economy, members of the twenty-first-century workforce need to be familiar with the major marketing-related occupations. According to Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong, in 2006, the major marketing occupations are: (1) advertising, (2) brand and product management, (3) industrial marketing, (4) international marketing, (5) marketing research, (6) new-product planning, (7) physical distribution/distribution management, (8) public relations, (9) retail marketing, and (10) sales and sales promotion marketing. A discussion of each of these major marketing occupations follows.


Advertising is a vital business activity that requires planning skills, fact-gathering ability, creativity, artistic talent, and written and oral communication skills. Individuals who are employed in advertising typically perform the following tasks:

  • Search for factual information
  • Read avidly
  • Borrow ideas
  • Talk to customers
  • Develop print layouts, package designs, storyboards, corporate logotypes, trademarks, and symbols
  • Specify style and size of typography
  • Arrange advertisement details for reproduction

Thus, advertising involves all components of marketingproduct, price, promotion, and place. Because all the above tasks require working with people who are clients or potential clients, an individual must be personable, diplomatic, and sincere. Further, to succeed in advertising, a person needs to be self-motivated and able to present information about a product to varying audiences.


Individuals involved in brand and product management (BPM) are planners, directors, and controllers of the positioning of consumer packaged goods for sale in a dramatically

Career opportunities for which a marketing background is well suited
  • Advertising Specialist
  • Brand Manager
  • Business to Business Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Distribution Specialist
  • Industrial Sales
  • International Sales
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Research Analyst
  • Merchandise Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Product Planning
  • Promotion Manager
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Purchasing Agent
  • Purchasing Manager
  • Receiving Specialist
  • Retail Buyer
  • Retail Sales
  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Representative
  • Shipping
  • Wholesale Buyer

and quickly changing marketplace. BPM marketers use research as well as packaging, manufacturing, and forecasting to position products for sale to the most appropriate audience. Individuals employed in this aspect of marketing must have the leadership capability to move a product from obscurity to a national awareness in a relatively short period. Usually, the job-related responsibilities of BPM marketers increase with the growth and development of a particular product.

Thus, successful BPM marketers operate in a high-pressure, fast-paced, and constantly changing environment, since a major component of BPM marketing focuses on the financial position of the product under development. In addition, BPM marketers must be results-oriented and creative; possess strong interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills; have entrepreneurial leanings; and exhibit high levels of diplomacy, perseverance, and drive.


Industrial marketing involves the planning, sale, and service of products used for commercial or business purposes. In addition to having excellent oral and written communication skills, industrial marketers must be self-reliant individuals with the ability to understand customer requirements as well as the knowledge to propose the purchase of a particular product that will satisfy customers' needs and wants. In essence, industrial marketers are consultants who assist clients in ascertaining the appropriate product for their particular needs.

Whether employed in sales, service, product design, or marketing research positions, industrial marketers must develop and maintain ongoing business relationships with suppliers of goods and services as well as with clients. Therefore, the selling relationship is a process of maintaining and building a continuous business relationship. As in any marketing-related career, industrial marketers must have excellent people skills as well as good oral and written communication skills. In addition, a successful industrial marketer should have a broad educational background with an emphasis in technology in order to be able to link that technology to human needs and wants.


With the increasing role of foreign industry in the United States, as well as increasing U.S. interests abroad, individuals with relevant foreign language skills, in addition to an understanding of selected foreign cultures, are needed to assist with the day-to-day operations of business. To be able to conduct business effectively and efficiently and to implement marketing strategies abroad, international marketers need to understand the social, economic, and political climates of foreign countries. Marketing personnel interested in this area may be required to travel and/or relocate to a foreign country to oversee company operations and to create a presence in that country's economy. In addition to the language requirement, potential international marketers need appropriate communication skills as well as diplomatic skills in order to work with foreign leaders and function in foreign economic systems.


Marketing researchers are asked to ascertain why a particular product is or is not being purchased by consumers. Based on the interpretation of data collected in marketing research, market researchers make recommendations for enhancing or eliminating existing products as well as developing new products. In addition, promotional activities are based on data collected by marketing researchers. Individuals employed in marketing research occupations must understand statistics, data/information-processing analysis, psychology, consumer behavior, and communication.

Marketing researchers interact with other marketing occupations to define problems within a particular product line as well as to identify the appropriate processes to be used to analyze and resolve those problems. A critical component of this position is the ability to present solutions to business problems in a manner that is easily understood by colleagues and constituents. Specifically, marketing researchers provide information concerning consumers, marketing environment, and competition to relevant internal and external publics. Therefore, strong analytical, methodological, and communication skills are a must for success in this arena.


New-product planning involves the creation and development of new products for an organization. Because individuals who enter this arena typically have been successful in other areas of marketing, they tend to have an excellent knowledge of and background in marketing, be familiar with the processes for conducting marketing research, be capable of generating sales forecasts, and have a background in technology. A new-product-planning marketer conceptualizes, researches, and evaluates new ideas. During the evaluation process, the new-product-planning marketer considers both the feasibility of the production of the product and the product's potential profitability. These individuals must also possess the ability to motivate, coordinate, and direct others.

New-product planning is applicable to the marketing in such areas as consumer products, consumer services, hospital and medical services, and public service programs. Because new-product development is constantly changing, a person who enters this field should have a high degree of tolerance for uncertainty and the unknown, yet nonetheless be able to develop a definite agenda and a "report card" to inform superiors about success with new products.


Physical distribution is one of the largest arenas of marketing and has been defined as the analysis, planning, and control of activities concerned with the procurement and distribution of goods. Activities involved with the physical distribution process include transporting, warehousing, forecasting, processing orders, inventorying, production planning, selecting sites, and servicing customers. Individuals employed in this marketing area are concerned with the processes or methods needed to deliver the product from the manufacturer to the wholesalers to the retailers to, ultimately, the consumer.

The physical distribution process is an extensive and diverse area that involves the physical transportation of products and the various activities associated with purchasing, selling, and channel-management functions. Individuals who enter physical distribution marketing need interpersonal leadership ability in order to deal with diverse and challenging internal and external publics, as well as excellent analytical and communication skills.


Public relations marketers either assist in the management of the images of products or individuals, or anticipate and handle public problems or complaints. Thus individuals employed in the public relations aspect of marketing create an image or message for or about an individual or organization, as well as maintaining that image with the media. This image or message needs to be communicated effectively, efficiently, and persuasively to the intended audience. To be successful in public relations, an individual needs to be people-oriented and to have excellent oral and written communication skills, as well as a background in journalism.


Individuals in retail occupations deal directly with consumers or customers. Retail marketing also involves the management of sales personnel, selection and ordering of merchandise, and promotion of selected merchandise, as well as inventory control, store security, and product accounting. Typical jobs are as buyers, sales managers, department managers, and store managers. To be successful in retail marketing, individuals must be self-motivated and possess excellent people skills.

A rapidly growing component in retail marketing is direct-response marketing (DRM). DRM attempts to deliver the product from the manufacturer to the consumer by the use of direct mail, print and broadcast media, telephone marketing, catalogs, in-home presentations, door-to-door marketing, electronic ordering and funds transfer, and videotex. Attributes needed for success in the area of DRM include creativity, initiative, perseverance, and quantitative competence. In essence, retail marketers use their professional knowledge and competence to improve company profits by informing various publics of appropriate assortments of goods and service in locations that are easily accessible.


Sales and sales promotion marketers (SSPMs) need a thorough understanding of their company's products. SSPMs must not only sell a product, but also develop and maintain effective relationships with customers. The main goal of SSPMs is to inform customers about and provide them with appropriate products in an expeditious manner. Such individuals focus on providing information to potential clients/customers by interacting with them directly and personally. Beyond this, they close sales and maintain existing accounts to ensure client/customer satisfaction and loyalty.

To be successful, an individual must know the product, the customer, and the market. Further, a good understanding of people and appropriate people skills are useful in dealing with diverse and challenging internal and external publics. Because the process of selling involves persuasive two-way communication between a seller and a client, individuals in this area of marketing must be people-oriented as well as knowledgeable about the product and the manner in which the product can be used to satisfy buyers' needs and wants.


In the twenty-first century, the role of marketing in the U.S. economy will change as consumers react to everchanging technology and as businesses respond to an everchanging marketplace. Because of changing technology and the changing marketplace, the roles and functions of conventional marketing as it is known today will be constantly rethought and redefined. In addition, the four Ps of marketingproduct, price, place, and promotionwill also be redefined and restructured. With the dynamic changes facing the marketing environment, the demand for marketing-oriented personnel will continue to increase, making marketing-related careers an exciting occupational choice for the twenty-first century.

see also Marketing


Careers in focus: Advertising and marketing. (2004). New York: Ferguson.

Kotler, Philip, and Armstrong, Gary (2006). Principles of marketing (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall.

Stair, Lila B., and Stair, Leslie (2002). Careers in marketing (3rd ed.). Chicago: VGM Career Books.

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2005). Occupational outlook handbook, 200405. Washington, DC.

Randy L. Joyner

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Careers in Marketing

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