Is Marketing an Ideal
Career for a PhD?

Marketing is a great career option for PhDs. But, even though we encounter marketing everyday, many of us are unsure what marketers do.

As Rachel Bennett, PhD explains, the tasks marketers perform are a lot different than our perceptions of marketing as consumers. Business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) are the two main types of marketing. We’re most frequently exposed to B2C marketing because it’s selling to individual consumers. A B2C marketer needs to consider product placement, as well as pricing, advertising, branding, and customer profiles. B2C marketers always target a specific segment of the population, and need to be able to understand their audience.

B2B marketing attempts to sell from one business to another. Individual consumers are less likely to be familiar with this type of marketing. However if you’ve ever worked in a company or institutional setting, you’ve probably been in a position to witness B2B marketing. For example, if you’ve ever considered a textbook or lab equipment for a class, the distributor might attempt to market to you (the instructor and representative of the university) instead of the final consumer (the students). B2B and B2C marketers encounter similar challenges, but their contexts and strategies differ.

All marketers consider product, price, place, and promotions—the four Ps of marketing. They endeavour to create awareness about their product by educating consumers and they encourage consumer interest, which hopefully leads to a purchase. Dr. Bennett points out that marketing and education are very similar because educators also try to convince people to achieve certain outcomes. Instructors hope to persuade students to write papers, attend classes, and work collaboratively with their peers. Similarly, marketing attempts to convince people to perform tasks and achieve a specific result. For example, social marketing such as recycling or anti-smoking campaigns try to persuade people to modify their behavior. Marketers assess success by measuring conversion rates, tracking website statistics, and consulting social media engagement rates.

Marketers have the unique opportunity to blend creative and analytic methods. They perform include “light” research in a range of areas such as potential customers, competitors, contemporary issues and legislation. The profession requires engagement in strategic planning and attendance at a number of meetings. Marketing is very collaborative, but there’s also a lot of independent work.

Perhaps marketing is a career that interests you! In addition to describing typical marketing activities, in her seminar Dr. Bennett also provides some potential signs that you might love a job in marketing:      

  • Planning and designing course content is your favorite part of teaching      
  • Human behaviour interests you      
  • Others consider you a good communicator      
  • Composing social media posts or titles for papers is fun      
  • A strong thesis statement is very important to you      
  • You love to learn!

So, how can you pursue a career in marketing? As a PhD you’ve already cultivated a number of important skills that are required to be a successful marketer. Researching, writing, planning, creative problem-solving, and working independently are skills that can be transferred from graduate work to a marketing career. Common entry points into this career path include writing, editing, content creating, publishing, coordinating social media, sales and customer service. If you’re just entering the profession, it’s best to find a job at a company or non-profit to learn from your colleagues. Certificates can assist your learning curve, but Dr. Bennett stresses that marketing is something you can learn on the job. 

And, right now, it’s a field that often hires! Rent Rachel’s whole webinar below to learn more about this career path.

Beyond the Professoriate Community Members attend events like this for free each month and access replays free for two weeks. Ready to launch your next great career? Join the Online Career Hub for PhDs.

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