Marketing - the Essential Business Discipline

Marketing The Essential Business Discipline

Marketing is essential to the business world but students sometimes do not realise that they can study Marketing as a discipline in its own right. They are also often not aware that they can commence their studies at a variety of levels, including Master’s.

What is Marketing?

One of the best known definitions of marketing is that adopted by the UK based, Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). It defines marketing as "The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably". Put in straightforward terms, this means that the customer’s needs and wants always have to be put first. Phrased even more succinctly, it means "no customer, no business"!

This simply concept of customer orientation has profound implications for all types of organisation. It requires firstly that organisations must continually research both customer requirements and what is going on in the external environment, including competitors’ activities. Secondly, it means that organisations must have appropriate, customer orientated aims and objectives and must plan strategically for the future. Thirdly, in order to achieve implementation of the marketing concept, appropriate organisational structures and resources must be in place. Finally, and most importantly of all, everybody within the organisation, from the Managing Director downwards must be completely committed to serving customers and to building long term, mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that Marketing can only be applied by large companies operating in fast moving consumer markets, such as food and drink. Nothing could be further from the truth. The marketing concept and marketing techniques are equally appropriate for small firms, services, industrial goods and business to business situations as well as publicly owned and non-profit organisations.

Marketing Based Courses in UK Higher Education

In the UK, Marketing has long been accepted as an integral component of higher education business courses, such as BA Business Studies, BA Business Administration, BA International Business and Master of Business Administration (MBA). Marketing is also taught within undergraduate degrees as diverse as Sports Studies, Business Information Technology, Corporate Communications, Fine Art Evaluation and Electrical Engineering.

Most importantly, within the last five years, specialised degree courses have been introduced, signalling the growing importance of marketing as an academic discipline. At undergraduate level, these courses have titles such as BA Marketing, BA Marketing Design and BA International Marketing. At postgraduate level, titles such as MA Marketing Management, MA Marketing and MSc International Marketing are common. Most master’s courses also offer the possibility of exiting with a lower level, but nevertheless extremely valuable, Postgraduate Diploma, a qualification which meets the CIM criteria for membership (MCIM) status.

A further development at postgraduate level has been the introduction of so-called ‘Pathway MBA’s’, for example the MBA (Marketing), which is an MBA with a strong bias towards marketing. Such pathway courses also offer the opportunity to achieve the lower level Diploma in Management Studies (DMS) qualification, for example, DMS (Marketing).

Many master’s courses (both MA and MBA) are offered in both full-time and part-time study modes. Most full-time master’s courses are one year in duration.

Entry to a Master’s Course in Marketing

For students who have successfully studied marketing within an undergraduate programme, progression to a master’s course in Marketing should be relatively straight forward. However, there are often many graduates of non-business disciplines who would like to study marketing at postgraduate level but who may feel inhibited from doing so, due to their lack of existing marketing knowledge. The good news is that many Masters in Marketing courses are designed flexibly and allow those with little or no previous marketing knowledge or experience to ‘start from the beginning’. That is, no previous marketing knowledge is assumed.

Such flexibly designed courses also often include the facility to credit previous learning and/or work experience, under so-called ‘accreditation of previous learning and/or experiential learning’ (APL/APEL) arrangements.

Assessment and Content of a Master’s Course in Marketing

UK master’s courses are usually assessed via a combination of coursework and examination. Coursework, normally consisting of practically based assignments and/or presentations, enables students to develop marketing skills and to demonstrate understanding. Examinations (often not a requirement of all units) allow knowledge and its application to be checked and assessed. The essential characteristic of a master’s course is that it encourages debate and critical analysis.

Typical units on an MA Marketing Management or MA Marketing course would include or be based upon, Marketing Concepts and Applications, Market Analysis (including financial appreciation), Marketing Communications, Global or International Marketing, Marketing Information Systems, Strategic Marketing Management and various optional topics, such as Services Marketing Management and Marketing Logistics. The better designed courses will also offer units on Contemporary Issues in Marketing and Marketing Implementation.

Some courses include a Consultancy Project, in which students carry out a marketing consultancy assignment for a real client in a real organisation, and have to produce a final report and presentation. The emphasis, here is on practical, implementable recommendations.

The final and essential element of most master’s courses is the Dissertation. This requires individual research into a marketing topic, usually of the student’s choice. This is a serious piece of academic research, albeit often in an organisational context. It could ultimately form the basis for further postgraduate study to achieve either a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Marketing Based Careers

Successful study of marketing leads to a wide range of career prospects. These include: Marketing Management, Product or Service Management, Advertising, Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Export/Import, Marketing Research and Selling / Sales Management. A large number of organisations now seek employees with marketing qualifications and knowledge.

It should be pointed out that most students thoroughly enjoy their studies in marketing and find the knowledge and skills gained to be of permanent benefit in their future careers.

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