Is Marketing a Profession?

by  Martin L. Hammond, Ph. D.


Well, the answer to that question depends on who you talk to. Many chief executive officers of high-tech and low-tech companies will tell you that there are four main organizations in a company:

    • Sales
    • Engineering
    • Manufacturing
    • Finance

In such companies, marketing, if it is thought of at all, is that group in Sales that writes brochures and ads. Companies where such thinking occurs are not usually successful in the long term because markets change.

Successful companies know how to track market requirements, know how to prepare themselves to meet market requirements, and know how to earn business in the marketplace. A company that does not know these things is usually one that is reactive and one that is usually sales- or technology-driven. A pro-active company is market-driven and has a professional marketing organization.

What Is A Profession?

One dictionary defines a profession as:

An occupation requiring specialized knowledge and training in a branch of advanced learning and often requiring long and intensive academic preparation.

A professional is considered to be:

One who participates for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs, someone highly skilled and doing work for payment.

So, is marketing a profession? It requires specialized knowledge; however, that knowledge is difficult to get from an intensive academic preparation. Do you know any marketing professionals? It often seems there are more amateurs than professionals in the field.

Markets change, and one key to being a marketing professional is knowing how markets work and knowing how to understand market requirements.

Marketing Requires Understanding Chosen Markets

What is a market? One definition is a place where goods are sold. The place may be a location where a wide range of goods are sold, such as a flea-market. It may be a place where a narrow range of goods are sold, such as a farmers' market. It may be a distributed, world-wide economic activity in a specific type of goods, such as the semiconductor equipment market.

All markets have sellers, buyers, and goods. Buyers have needs or wants, sellers try to provide products (called goods) that meet those needs or wants, and successful marketing people understand how to find out how their chosen marketplace works in detail. Amateur marketing people think they already know it works.

Is Marketing A Profession?

Marketing requires specialized knowledge and training, and that knowledge and training requires something not easily obtained with long and intensive academic preparation. Academic training in marketing teaches some of the tools of marketing, but it does not teach the market requirements of many markets.

In consumer marketing, it is assumed that we are all consumers, and therefore, market requirements are easily understood. The challenge then becomes creating a position for your company/products in that market place. If your chosen market is a consumer market, this approach may lead to success.

In non-consumer or industrial markets, market requirements can be very specific and are generally known only to the some users of the products. Therefore, it is difficult for a person with academic marketing training to be successful in such markets. Users of products often migrate to the marketing organizations of suppliers in such markets.

A technologist or user migrating to marketing does not automatically become a professional. Such a person may have a significant short-term advantage in understanding market requirements. However, markets change, and professional marketing people know how to keep track of the changes.

Marketing is an occupation requiring specialized knowledge and training that is generally not available through academic preparation. Marketing requires highly specialized knowledge of how chosen markets operate and how to get a company to be successful in its chosen markets.

Marketing professionals know:

    • What kind of market they work in
    • How their chosen market functions
    • Who and where their buyers are
    • How to find out what their buyers need
    • How to get their company to meet those needs
    • How to provide the sales tools and training necessary for success
    • How to create Awareness of their company and products in their buyers' minds
    • How to create Differentiation of their products in their buyers' minds
    • How to create Preference for their products
    • How to manage and control their existing products to optimize market share and profitability
    • How to plan and present new products to increase market share

Marketing professionals have the knowledge, skill, and experience to be successful in their chosen markets.

Yes, marketing is a profession; however, the endeavor is often engaged in by amateurs

‹‹ Martin L. Hammond, Ph. D.
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