What Is Marketing? Everything You Need to Know

Marketing managers and other professionals work in many industries and do challenging, meaningful work. Learn more about the marketing field.

portrait of Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.
by Juliann Scholl, Ph.D.

Published August 15, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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What Is Marketing? Everything You Need to Know
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Marketing refers to the methods a company uses to promote its products or services and attract new customers. Marketing specialists know and apply the four "Ps" that guide marketing activities:

  • Product: The first "P" stands for the services or products businesses offer their consumers. Ideally, these offerings fulfill consumer needs.
  • Price: The second indicates a product's selling price. Factors determining price include production, testing, distribution, and marketing costs.
  • Place: The third "P" refers to where a product or service is distributed: traditional storefronts or websites and online locations.
  • Promotion: The last involves how an organization is promoting its services. A company may use celebrity endorsements, discounts, graphic designs, and other integrated marketing campaigns that get target consumers' attention.

Marketing professionals use traditional and digital methods in their marketing strategies. Traditional forms of marketing include print, such as billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, and fliers. Marketers also use radio and TV spots, promotional events, and direct mailings.

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Most marketing professionals also utilize digital marketing strategies to reach wider audiences. These include email, social media, content for blogs and web pages, search engine marketing, and working with third-party advertisers (affiliate marketing).

The growth of digital marketing has changed how businesses market what they sell. Because customers can get online anytime, many expect continuous customer service. Also, advertising on streaming platforms has contributed to the decrease in television, radio, and other traditional media ads.

The use of digital media helps drive the demand for marketers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers will increase by 10% between 2020 and 2030.

Marketing professionals work in several industries like private enterprise, healthcare, education, research and development, and technical services. Graduates can pursue occupations in product management, supply chain sales, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and marketing research.

What Does a Marketer Do?

Marketing specialists, also known as marketing consultants, directors of marketing, or marketing managers, perform duties that vary depending on the company they work at. However, many negotiate advertising contracts, plan advertising campaigns, examine market data, and consult clients on marketing strategies.

Most people aspiring to work as marketing managers earn a bachelor's degree and obtain entry-level positions as communication specialists, marketing coordinators, sales representatives, public relations coordinators, or social media specialists. Successful marketing professionals possess analytical thinking, interpersonal organization, writing, public speaking, and problem-solving skills.

People who work in marketing play crucial roles in the growth and success of their businesses. The marketing manager often serves as the face of the organization, promoting products, advancing the organization's mission, and communicating with clients, customers, and stakeholders.

Some marketing professionals enjoy competitive salaries, especially as they gain experience and advance their careers. The BLS reports that marketing managers earned a median salary of $135,030 in 2021. The top 10% of earners made more than $180,000 in the same year.

Marketer Responsibilities

  • Negotiate advertising contracts
  • Meet with clients to advise on services, goals, and strategies
  • Plan advertising campaigns
  • Assess layouts of websites for advertisements and campaigns
  • Create pricing strategies for products or services
  • Launch and monitor market research studies
  • Analyze market research data to determine consumer demand and identify new opportunities for products or services
Defining Marketing Terms
Marketing Term Definition
A/B Testing Many market researchers use A/B testing in studies to assess consumers' preferences for one version of a product feature or design over another. Many studies track comparisons between existing designs and new or test varieties.
B2B Companies engage in business-to-business (B2B) marketing to promote or sell their products or services to other companies. For example, a manufacturer can use B2B to sell its rubber products to car makers that need hoses for engines.
B2C Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies market their services or products to customers instead of other organizations. The customers typically serve as end-users.
CTA Marketers typically use a call to action (CTA) in advertisements, campaigns, and web page copy to reflect the next step they want customers to take. This next step usually refers to buying a product or signing up for a service or promotion.
Inbound Marketing A company may use inbound marketing to contact customers to gain more attention, credibility, and trust for their businesses or campaigns. Customers often do this through promotional events, email, and web designs.
KPI A key performance indicator (KPI) reflects a marketing metric or measurement that helps companies monitor a product or brand's performance. KPIs can reflect past performance, changes in trends, or progress toward sales objectives.
SEO Marketers use search engine optimization (SEO) to make web content more visible when people search for it online. One SEO strategy involves incorporating specific keywords so that a web page ranks highly and appears toward the top of a results list in an online search.

Types of Marketing

Digital Marketing

Digital marketers develop and implement their organizations' online marketing plans. Digital marketing uses digital media and data to enhance a company's visibility, build loyalty to a brand, and increase sales. Individuals in this field often use online campaigns and events to promote new products or services or introduce a new design or feature.

People in digital marketing can work as marketing managers, digital consultants, or events marketing managers. Like many other marketing managers who handle online content, these professionals must possess knowledge of social media, e-commerce, SEO, and internet rules and regulations. Payscale reports that digital marketers earned $69,780 annually on average as of August 2022.

Content Marketing

Content marketing uses downloadable or streamed material like blog posts, white papers, ebooks, videos, and infographics to tell a story to get audiences more interested in a company and its offerings. Sharing content allows organizations to disseminate news or knowledge about a product, gather information from potential customers, and get consumers to stay involved with a company beyond the sale.

Content marketers need skills in marketing strategies and audience analysis. They also should be good at telling stories, knowing which types of media to use, and keeping consumers' interests through social media. According to Payscale, content marketers made an average of $56,150 annually as of August 2022.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketers help companies establish and improve their online presence, specifically on social media sites. These professionals create online content that engages users, analyze social media trends, and build brand awareness. The primary purpose of social media marketing is to enable customers to interact with companies, ask questions, and find resolutions to problems or complaints.

Social media marketers can create content or hire contractors and writers to generate the content. They can work traditional office hours but sometimes alternate schedules to respond to consumers' posts and update social media platforms. According to Payscale, these professionals earned an average of $56,820 yearly as of August 2022.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketers use SEO to enhance their companies' online presence and visibility. They also help develop an organization's overall SEO strategy. Duties typically include researching keywords and placing them strategically in blog posts, articles, and landing pages to increase web traffic from search engines to an organization's website.

According to Payscale, search engine marketers and SEO specialists made an average annual salary of $48,810 as of August 2022. The top 10% of these professionals earned more than $67,000 on average. These marketing specialists must stay on top of new developments in communication technologies and digital marketing methods.

Product Marketing

Professionals in product marketing design and carry out strategies to increase brand awareness and revenue through product sales. These individuals manage product advertising at local, national, or global levels. They oversee various product marketing stages, including development, pricing, launch, and promotion.

Product managers must possess extensive knowledge about their companies' services and goods. They also need knowledge of the most effective strategies for generating sales and contributing to company growth. Many product managers have accumulated many years of work experience, and they earned an average yearly salary of $94,350 as of August 2022, according to Payscale.

Research Marketing

Market research involves collecting and analyzing data to identify customer needs and pinpoint product expansion opportunities. Professionals also use the information to determine the best marketing strategies and monitor product performance. Market researchers possess knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methods, customer relationship management, and database marketing.

Jobs in this subfield include market forecaster, marketing analyst, analyst, and marketing consultant. According to the BLS, market research analysts made a median wage of $63,920 in 2021. Market researchers in publishing, private enterprise, insurance, and finance tend to earn higher salaries.

How to Become a Marketer

Graduates with associate degrees can work as sales representatives or office managers in marketing firms and other business settings, but a bachelor's degree is required for many positions. Most individuals can get entry-level marketing positions with a bachelor's degree in marketing.

A master's in marketing can qualify graduates to work in senior management and other leadership roles. Professionals wanting to work in education, conduct marketing research, or get an executive position might pursue a doctorate in marketing.

Marketing specialists and managers do not necessarily need a license or certification. However, a credential in a marketing specialty can help a professional increase their earning potential, gain distinction, and obtain a highly technical position. Marketing specialists can earn certifications in various subjects including:

The Future of Marketing

Companies' competition for revenue and consumers' loyalty continues to drive the demand for marketing managers and other professionals. The BLS projects that jobs for marketing managers will grow 10% between 2020-2030, exceeding the 8% growth rate for all occupations.

Customer expectations represent a strong force that will drive future trends in marketing. Consumers increasingly expect continuous access to customer service for responses to questions and concerns. Therefore, companies might benefit from embracing artificial intelligence (AI) to provide automated chatbots to keep up with the demand.

Marketers will increasingly rely on big data to develop strategies that target specific audiences. The increase in the collection of consumer-based data requires the expertise of market researchers and data analysts to glean essential demographics and psychological insights from target customers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marketing

How much does a marketing manager make?

According to Payscale data from August 2022, the average marketing manager's salary totals $68,310 each year. The top 10% of marketing managers earned average wages of more than $102,000 annually. In addition to a base salary, a marketing manager can earn bonuses and commissions, and some individuals take advantage of profit sharing.

Some professionals wanting to make more money can pursue advanced degrees or earn certification in a marketing specialty. Additionally, location impacts marketing manager salaries. According to the BLS, marketing managers in New York made the most in 2021, with a mean annual wage of $190,760.

What is SEO in digital marketing?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which can also mean search engine optimizer when referring to an individual. Digital marketers and other marketing specialists use SEO to make their company webpage content more visible and rank higher in search engine results.

For instance, SEO often involves using carefully chosen keywords in well-written content to attract more attention from target audiences when they use search engines to look for product information. Digital marketers recognize SEO as a valuable tool for maintaining and increasing brand awareness. It also helps consumers find their products and services more easily on search engines and social media.

What can I do with a marketing degree?

Many industries require the skills and expertise of highly qualified marketing specialists. Many marketing graduates seek employment with marketing and advertising agencies. Individuals can also find meaningful work in public relations, management, software publishing, aerospace manufacturing, and education.

Scientific and technical industries offer some of the most lucrative careers. Marketing managers and specialists seeking high-paying jobs might look to industries that deal with cutting-edge technology. They can also increase their earning potential by working in areas with higher populations.

What is market research?

Market research involves collecting data and information from consumers about their preferences, opinions, experiences, and needs to determine the profitability of new products and services. Companies also use market research to identify which groups of consumers to target.

Market researchers typically interact directly with people and often use surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other methods to collect their data. Some organizations hire market researchers to do the work in-house, while others enlist the help of outside companies to collect and analyze market data.

Is a marketing degree worth it?

Marketing appeals to many individuals with creativity and excellent communication and organizational skills. Professionals with the appropriate education and experience might see a demand for their abilities from companies needing to stay competitive in their markets.

Because the landscape of digital marketing constantly changes, individuals who enjoy sharpening their skills and learning new things might find marketing an attractive career path. Graduates with bachelor's and advanced degrees can increase their earning potential and access challenging and potentially lucrative marketing jobs in various industries.

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