Why marketing matters most

In the country of the consumer, the marketer is king. Richard Cook looks at new horizons opening to those with the right experience, and how the profession has become the fast track to the top.

During the height of the United Nations peace-keeping operation in Bosnia, an American college conducted a worldwide survey to find out the difference that marketing the organisation might make. It found that, helped by the television exposure of the blue berets, but without any real marketing effort, a respectable 40 per cent of respondents could identify the UN logo.

The UN was relying simply on its long history and on near-blanket coverage of its operations in the world media to help get its message across. But if the researchers were surprised by that level of awareness there was a bigger shock to come. The same survey, which covered countries as disparate as Guatemala, India and the former Soviet Union as well as the UK, found that by contrast 82 per cent recognised the Coca Cola logo. Coke did not just rely on its own long history - it had the world's most efficient marketing machine fighting its corner.

But if, as surveys like that prove, the power of marketing is no longer in much doubt, it is only recently that the status of its practitioners has started to keep pace. And the consumer's dim view of the marketing profession is proving slower still to change. According to a survey by Marketing magazine last year, marketers are still viewed by the public at large as only slightly more trustworthy than MPs, journalists and estate agents.

But there is evidence that that is about to change, as more marketers take their place at the head of the boardroom of some of the UK's biggest companies, ranging from Tesco to Grand Metropolitan.

"You have to remember that marketing is a relatively young profession," explains Roy Hoolahan, joint managing director at the specialist marketing recruitment consultants Ball & Hoolahan, and a former graduate marketing trainee at Unilever. "We're only now getting a proper idea of how a marketing career path might develop, because the graduates that started out when the profession took off in the Sixties are now getting to the peak of their careers." Certainly the experience of those marketing pioneers is more than merely encouraging. A survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the marketing recruitment company Korn/Ferry International concluded that marketing was perceived as the fastest single route up the corporate ladder. Jobs in other words that had once been seen as the preserve of businessmen trained in accountancy or the law are increasingly being occupied by those with pure marketing backgrounds.

"There's no doubt that marketing has really blossomed as a career in the last few years," explains Ray Kelly, managing partner at Korn/Ferry UK. "Which I suppose isn't that surprising when you consider how business as a whole has changed. Once, the decision on whether a company should set up in a new location would be a manufacturing-led one. Now marketing dominates. Similarly new products are no longer devised in laboratories, they are devised by marketers. Marketing has become the most important function in many areas and has consequently become more and more satisfying as a career."

Certainly the rewards have now started to keep pace with the increased importance of the role. A graduate trainee at one of the blue-chip fmcg companies - the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Mars which effectively provide training for the industry - can expect to earn around pounds 17,000. They will probably start out by helping to steer the fortunes of one of the company's bigger brands, before, after a year or so, getting responsibility for their own product and their first pay rise.

Progress from there will depend on the performance of the brands they are responsible for, but typically they can expect to be earning around pounds 35,000 at age 30 and maybe twice that once they reach the position of marketing director in their mid- to late-thirties. And firms will tend to pay more in areas like financial services which have a lower profile, and are presumed to offer a tougher challenge.

Overall, according to the annual survey into rates of business pay conducted by The Reward Group, marketing is comfortably ahead of the average in all junior, senior and middle management positions, and consistently pips traditional high payers such as computing and accountancy at all but the most senior levels.

"Marketing does pay well, but one of its greatest advantages as a career is that there are now so many opportunities to diversify into other fields once you've spent a few years getting experience," points out Steve Ingham, managing director at the recruitment specialists Michael Page Sales & Marketing. "You don't have to stay in any one area of business. There are the opportunities offered by the Internet, which are growing all the time, then areas like telecoms, retail and the media, all of which are increasingly looking to recruit trained marketers, and especially those with a good fmcg background." Indeed, one thing that has not changed is the importance of the big fmcg companies in the training process. Getting onto the training schemes offered by those companies, though, can be a real challenge, as more and more high-powered graduates come to appreciate the opportunities that a career in marketing offers.

"If graduates came to us with no experience, it would be difficult to place them," Ingham admits, "but many are taking up the option of taking a year out of their university courses to gain some experience. This one step can make them immensely attractive to employers, and once they have received a training in marketing from one of the larger companies they are in an enviable position."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003