Here we are again with another comprehensive subject review. As I said in previous posts, nowadays business degrees are very popular in the UK. The are many different subjects you can choose if you would like to enter the business world. In this post, I will go over one in particular: is a Marketing Degree worth it?
In the previous article we looked at another very popular degree in the UK, Business Management. If you haven’t read that, you can find it here: “is a Business Management Degree worth it in the UK?”.
Firstly, we need to identify what attracts students to start a marketing degree. In the case of business management, the first thing you might think is a manager wearing a suit and having a meeting in a nice office, maybe a skyscraper with a view of the city. But what do you think, or how do you imagine marketing?
I don’t know about you, but what I think about is ads. We constantly see them everyday, companies trying to advertise their products and services in the most effective ways possible. Some are so impactful that we remember them for years. Well, that’s pure marketing at its best.
What is Marketing?
The best way to start a research is always to find a simple but comprehensive definition. “Marketing refers to activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service.“ (Investopedia)
The first thing I want to highlight from that definition is: activities. If you think that marketing is simply creating ads you are wrong. There is a vast set of tasks that a marketing expert needs to carry out, from market research to the final campaign.
Marketing is a core department of a business and it operates hand in hand with the sales department. In many cases, they actually follow the same organisation structure and report to the same “head of department” or director. Hopefully, those are the positions you are targeting for your future career, think big!
Moreover, most business degrees cover marketing principles and fundamentals. Personally, I had to take some compulsory marketing modules despite studying International Business & Finance. You can find my story here if you want to know more: “Starting University at 26 in the UK”.
A Marketing Degree
Another important concept you need to consider is that marketing is rarely a stand-alone course. In fact, it is common for students to combine marketing with other subjects (joint degree). Nowadays most universities are flexible in that regard and offer a large variety of courses.
However, we can identify some of the most popular subjects that students often combine with marketing: business; finance; human resources; law; design; psychology. As you can see, you could mix marketing with business studies or also more scientific subjects.
All of the above, for different reasons, well complement with marketing. Nevertheless, I’m sure you can find many more subjects to combine it with. Basically, you can tailor your marketing degree according to your interests. I had a friend at university who studied marketing and history together!
It is also very common to combine marketing with a foreign language. This is particularly convenient if you would like to work for a multinational or go abroad for a work experience. Moreover, it is always a plus for your CV! In that case, my suggestion would be to pick an “uncommon” language.
So what will you actually study in a marketing degree? You might have heard of the famous 5 P’s of marketing: product; price; promotion; place; people. However, some extend the marketing mix to 7 P’s, adding process and physical evidence.
Each of those areas involves a remarkable amount of work and research. I will go through them in detail in a separate article. If you think the marketing mix is something that you can learn easily you are wrong (again)! There is a wide range of marketing techniques to learn.
You will need to understand how to design a marketing campaign effectively. Do you think is that easy? There are a lot of stages to get through. It involves subjects you might not even think of. A lot of things are hidden from consumers’s eyes. They just see the final product or service.
For example, you need financial knowledge in order to allocate the budget available for the marketing campaign. You also need to be able to conduct market research; define your target audience precisely; study its consumer behaviour; what do they read? how do they shop? their demographics; income and so on.
If that wasn’t enough, you have to learn about data analytics in order to make decisions based on pilot campaigns and other data. Not even to mention the knowledge you need to have on the product or service you are going to advertise! What values does it provide to consumers? Look for the “Value Proposition Canvas”.
That was just a taste of designing a marketing strategy. There is so much more you will need to master; from design and communication skills, to regulations and law. A great marketing strategy can make a company successful and give you a big financial bonus.
On the other hand, think about unsuccessful marketing campaigns. I’m sure a simple research on YouTube can show you some. You need to learn from those. What can sound like a great idea, might result in a disaster and bad company reputation!
Working with a Marketing Degree, pressure
What are you actually going to do when working in marketing? What I have discussed above was just a taste of what goes on in a marketing department. I have seen it with my eyes as I work for a UK multinational. Knowing what to expect is key to answer the question: is a Marketing Degree worth it?
The first thing I want to outline is pressure, although that is present in every department really. Where does it come from? Sales targets! As I have mentioned earlier, marketing and sales have a strong connection!
There is a ratio that higher management and directors always look at. It assesses the conversion from marketing spending to actual sales. In simple words, how much a company earns thanks to marketing activities. The problems start when the conversion rate is low.
There the pressure comes. Why the marketing strategy is not driving up sales? You will need to find that out and give answers. Was it because of competition? Or maybe a change in consumer behaviour? There is a lot to learn from failure and mistakes.
Having said so, marketing is about great innovative ideas, it can give great satisfaction and pay a high salary! If you like the sound of what goes on in such department, then a Marketing Degree is worth pursuing!
I want to point out that what I have said is based on what I have seen with my own eyes. I did not collaborate with the marketing department on a daily basis, but only at certain stages of specific projects. Therefore, I am sure there is much more than that!
Moreover, not all companies have an internal marketing department. It depends on their own strategy, no matter if it is a multinational or an SME. Nowadays many businesses outsource their marketing activities to external agencies. This would change considerably your role as a marketing expert.
Working in an internal marketing department; you will develop an in-depth knowledge of the company you work for and all products and services. You will become an expert of that industry and work on many internal projects; e.g. launching a brand new product; improving the marketing strategy of a product already in the market; adjusting the campaign of a product approaching the end of its lifecycle and so on.
Working for an independent marketing agency; you will work on a much larger variety of projects and gain exposure to multiple industries. You will also need to build long lasting relationships with clients as you will have to deal with them directly! Imagine it like this, your official employer is the marketing agency, but your real one(s) is the client(s).
More about Marketing jobs
Obviously, if you become a marketing expert you can open your own agency, or alternatively work as a self-employed freelancer. What I would say though is that ideally you have already some work experience and few clients before setting your own business.
However, who am I to say so? If you get really good at it, success will come naturally, even in such competitive environment! Are still unsure whether or not a Marketing Degree is worth it?
Moreover, as technology is constantly evolving, so it does the marketing industry. In fact, specialisations in digital & social media marketing, virtual reality and SEO are in high demand in the current job market. These are certainly trends worth noting down if marketing is the career you want to pursue!
Marketing in the UK, why a marketing degree is useful
The UK economy is one of the most developed in the world. Unsurprisingly, the marketing and advertising industry is a large contributor to that. Just to give you an idea, in 2019 alone the gross value added of the sector to the UK economy reached over £17 billion. (source: Statista, A. Guttmann, 2021)
If you are wondering what impact coronavirus had on the industry, in 2020 marketing spending dropped 7.6%. It is undeniable the fall in ad spending. However, the industry is already back with a 10.4% growth prediction in 2021 and 10.5% for 2022! (source: Statista, A. Guttmann, 2021)
Moreover, you should never let industry trends impact your decision. This is regardless of what they look like, either promising or unfavourable. It’s a mindset that you need to adopt, the market will always bounce back, despite of ups and downs.
I have discussed this concept in another article, I would really suggest you to have a read through. You can find it here: “Why you should return to study now”. Education is like an investment, but rather than investing in the market you are investing in yourself.
A degree is always worth it in the UK
You might find it repetitive as I said this many times in my posts, a degree in the UK is always worth it! I will never get tired of repeating that. The fact that you can access the graduate job market, makes a marketing degree worth it one hundred percent!
If that is the industry you want to work in, then go for it. It is certainly an exciting time to get into marketing! A lot is happening right now, people are changing their spending behaviour, the way they shop, where they see ads and many more.
Further, as I mentioned earlier in the post, you can often combine a marketing degree with another subject(s). This would give you leverage to access multiple industries of your interests! Keep in mind that the business world is widely interconnected.
Thus, with a background in marketing you could effectively work managerial roles in sales, business management, customer service, public relations and many more. On top of that, a degree is a standard requirement for many higher paid jobs, regardless of the subjects studied.
I went straight into working after my business studies. However, if you would like to continue your academic journey doing a master/postgraduate it would definitely be a great option. In that case, I’m pretty sure you will be able to study marketing in more depth as a stand-alone subject and specialise in specific areas of it.
Conclusion, is a Marketing Degree worth it?
After all this, do you really need me to answer that question? I will do it just for the sake of it: YES, a Marketing Degree is worth in the UK. It is a fantastic career and a core part of the business world. It certainly comes with pressure, but it also offers great rewards, both career satisfaction and financial.
I really hope this post can give you a clearer idea on getting a marketing degree in UK; from a basic overview of what concepts and techniques you are going to study, to your potential role and day to day activities applying those in the real business world.
If that sounds like something you would enjoy, then I would definitely enrol in a Marketing Degree course. On the other hand, if you are still not sure about what to study, this article I wrote might help you: “What to study for future jobs in the UK”.
Please also mind that everything I write on this blog is based on my own experience and research. Although I put a lot of effort in my content, it is influenced by my personal opinions
Therefore, please do not make any decisions around it, but always do your own research instead! Having said so, I wish you very good luck on your future career as a marketing expert!
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