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What is Marketing?

Every business wants to make money. In order to make money, a business has to find customers that are interested in their products and services. A business could just open up a shop and hope for the best, but most businesses have a method or a process they use to go about finding their ideal customers. This process is called marketing. Marketing studies the demographics of a population and determines what products and services match these people. Or, in a business’ case, a marketing team will take a business’s products and services and find people that would be interested in them. This could be done based on geographic location, age, gender, or a variety of other factors. Some products will fit only one demographic, while others will fit with more than one. A marketing professional is trained to figure out how to find the best people in order to sell the most products for the business.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are 6,100 people employed in the marketing industry in Iowa. Since every industry needs marketing in order to be successful, it's really not much of a surprise there are a significant number of professionals working in marketing in this relatively small state. The average marketing employee makes $65,000 and the need for marketing professionals is expected to remain steady through the year 2030. If you think you would enjoy this profession, working with a variety of people, and have a creative streak, then becoming a marketing professional could be an ideal career for you. Below you will find information regarding the education required, possible career paths for marketing professionals, and different types of jobs that marketing professionals hold.

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Marketing Education in Iowa

If you've ever listened to a radio advertisement, a sponsored ad on your favorite podcast, or seen an ad in the magazine, these things were created and placed by marketing professionals. If you've been scrolling through social media and you notice ads on the sides or at the top or bottom of the screen, those too were created and placed by marketing professionals. Basically, these people study the general population and find the people that best match a certain product or service and then create advertisements that match their needs and wants.

You can work in a variety of areas of marketing, from the beginning of the process to the end. Marketing researchers take the time to collate data on the types of people who appreciate and buy a product or service. Creatives create ads through video, audio, and digital or print mediums. Buyers or salespeople find a place for the ad to live, either in print, online, on the radio, on TV, or elsewhere. And marketing managers run the show, keeping budgets in order and approving both entire campaigns and specific advertisements to maintain the brand and company image.

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Most business administration degree programs include elements of marketing as part of the curriculum but, for those who are focused on making marketing a profession, a degree specifically in marketing is a better approach. Although a formal education is technically not needed to enter into the marketing field, the more education a marketing professional has, the further that person can advance in their career. So, although you can get started without a formal degree, if you want to rise to the executive positions, formal education is strongly suggested. Below are the four educational levels marketing professionals can earn.

Associate Degree in Marketing (AS)

A two-year degree in marketing will allow a person to gain an entry-level marketing position in an organization. An associate degree also helps a person determine if working in marketing is something they want to pursue.

Most of the courses in this program are general business based and contain the following subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Law
  • Business Statistics
  • Consumer Psychology
  • Management
  • Marketing

An associate degree consists of four semesters of courses. Most people complete this degree in two to three years, though some complete their program sooner, and others need more time depending on their personal responsibilities. Most associate degree programs also include general education courses, which allow students to complete the gen. ed. they would otherwise need when they begin a bachelor’s degree. This can allow a professional who has already earned an associate degree to complete a bachelor’s in half the time after they have found a position in the field.

Bachelor's Degree in Marketing (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in marketing is the first ring on the ladder for someone who wants to rise to the ranks of a full-time marketing professional. This undergraduate degree is a combination of specialized marketing courses and business administration courses. Many marketing majors are required to create a portfolio, a file that contains all the marketing projects they completed through their college career. This portfolio can be used as a sample of work when it's time to land their first marketing job.

Courses a student might take in this program include:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Marketing Management
  • marketing Research
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Promotion and Advertising

An online bachelor’s degree consists of eight semesters and generally take four to six years to complete. Upon the completion of this degree, a marketing professional will have a general idea of how to market to people, how to decipher how people think, and what motivates them to make specific purchases. This is the groundwork needed to be a successful marketing professional.

Master's Degree in Marketing (MS or MC)

For those who have goals of moving into executive positions within the marketing industry, a graduate degree in marketing or a master’s in business administration is the next step. A graduate degree will provide the student with greater understanding of the marketing process, as well as helping them gain more insight into running a business, how to handle employees, and other general business strategies. A capstone project or comprehensive exam along with various marketing campaigns completed throughout courses must be completed to attain the degree.

Some of the courses a graduate student of marketing might take include:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Digital Marketing Techniques
  • Marketing Management
  • Consumer Psychology
  • Other business or marketing courses depending on the specialization

A graduate degree in marketing or business administration generally takes three to five years to complete. Upon completion, mid-level or upper-level management positions could become available, depending on the organization and the person's work experience.

PhD Degree in Marketing (PhD)

For those seeking a terminal degree, it is most common that this person is either attempting to establish themselves as a subject matter expert or are considering a career in academia. Top levels of management, such as executive officer positions, are also an option after attaining this level of education. A doctorate in marketing or business focuses on leadership and attaining a thorough understanding of how businesses operate and how customers make their buying decisions. PhD programs take between five to seven years to complete, require a dissertation, and the successful defense of this dissertation. The combination of the doctorate degree, solid work experience, and a proven track record as a marketing professional could easily land a person a top-level executive position for a business or organization or help them start their own consultancy.

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Become a Marketing Manager in Iowa

To become a marketing professional in Iowa, a person should decide in what area of marketing they want to focus. Early on in their careers, they can try several different marketing avenues to see which is the best fit for them. For example, a person can work in direct marketing, digital marketing, or print advertising to see if any of these are a good fit. Those are just a few examples, but the point is that working in various types of marketing organizations can help a person determine what type of marketing career they want to develop for themselves.

Once a person has an idea of the type of career they want to pursue, they can begin to attain the education needed to follow that career path. As was mentioned previously, a formal education is not a requirement to start a career, but some specialized education will be needed depending on the specialization. For example, someone who wants a career in digital marketing will need to gain an education in the software, techniques, and processes used in digital marketing. For some, an associate degree will be adequate but, for others, a bachelor’s degree or higher will be needed depending on their ultimate career goals.

Another consideration is what industry a person wants to work in. Marketing is used in practically every industry in existence, so a person can find a marketing job that works directly with an industry they are most interested in. A detailed understanding of a specific industry in which they want to market is helpful because one of the elements of marketing is understanding what you are marketing to people. So, if a person has an interest in music, understanding the music industry is helpful when it comes time to produce marketing for that industry.

A final avenue a person can take to set themselves up as a marketing professional is to either work for a marketing firm or start their own. Marketing firms generally have a team of marketers (or several) and they work with clients and create marketing and advertising campaigns for other businesses and organizations. The firm can be specialized, or they can work with practically any business or organization in any industry.

Careers for Marketing Graduates

There are many types of marketing careers that a person can choose from. Below we have highlighted some of the more common positions a marketing professional can pursue. Although this is far from an exhaustive list, there are plenty of positions worth considering.

  • Account Manager
    Account managers work with clients to ascertain their specific needs and generally desired outcome for their marketing campaign. The account manager then takes this information to the team assigned to the client and, together, they create the marketing campaign that matches the requirements. An account manager is an excellent communicator and is adept at reading between the lines when a client isn't always very clear.
  • Media Buyer
    A media buyer helps clients decide which type of media would be the best fit for their marketing approach. Not all media is the same. Some industries do better with certain mediums than others. Determining which of the types of media are best for a client is a main part of a media buyers’ job. The other part is coordinating the campaign and determining how much media is needed, when and where it should be placed, and for how long. A media buyer needs to be well versed in marketing demographics and know how to handle what can sometimes be a tight budget.

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  • Digital Marketing Manager/Director
    Digital marketing is a relatively new industry. In the old days, when a business wanted to market their goods and services, they took out an ad in the newspaper or in a magazine. If they had some cash to throw at a campaign, they might also have radio spots or even a television ad. Now, companies use digital marketing formats at an increasing rate. Digital marketing is aimed at an online audience and social media has been a large part of the revolution of marketing. It makes finding targeted audiences easier because people tend to gather in groups of like-minded individuals on social media. If you can find the group that is interested in the products and services you offer, marketing to that group is much easier.
  • Marketing Researcher or Analyst
    A marketing researcher or analyst studies a market and determines what is currently trending and what is falling off in popularity. This information helps other marketing professionals and clients determine which type of marketing is best for them, as well as helping to home in on a targeted demographic. Marketing can be expensive, so finding the most precise information regarding potential customers is a must.
  • Social Media Manager
    A social media manager does exactly as the title suggests: they manage a company's social media platforms. Social media managers strive to ensure that a company’s brand and mission always match. Posts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram must all convey the same type of message so that potential customers know what the company is about and can make it just can't decision whether to consider making purchases from the organization.

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