Millions of college students graduate with a marketing degree every year. It's been positioned and marketed (no pun-intended) as a safe choice because we will always have businesses and businesses will always need people to market their products.
What does marketing even mean anymore? Somewhere in business history, marketing and advertising got lumped into the same category. They are two totally separate things. Advertising is a push mechanism. As the advertiser you control the message you push to the consumer. Marketing was intended to soften the push by utilizing analytics, metrics, focus groups and studies to support advertising and help soften the harsh approach to advertising messages.
Here's the big problem.
Marketing and advertising is no longer a uni-directional platform. Thanks to the Internet, technology and social media, the consumer has the ability to completely skip your ads on TV and publicly call you out on the Internet for your false claims and hard sales attempts. This is a tremendous culture shift and it presents a really big problem for students who pursue an education in marketing.
Marketing is constantly evolving and what used to be effective last year, last month or even last week may no longer be effective the next time around. I've been an entrepreneur for 10 years. I built my first businesses and most of my subsequent businesses online and I used online marketing tactics such as banner ads, SEO, SEM, PPC and social media to drive traffic to my websites. It has been truly astonishing and frightening to watch how ineffective each of these marketing tactics have become throughout the years, and furthermore the cost of the paid tactics such as PPC and online advertising have shot through the roof despite the fact that they have become less and less effective.
So imagine you're a freshmen in college today learning about marketing. In four years you will blindly graduate thinking you're proficient in today's marketing realm. You will be sadly mistaken. The worst part is that universities know this and they have no answer. This is why most universities still do not teach online marketing or have online marketing degree programs, because they know that there's no way to keep up with the evolving changes, so they instead teach kids a bunch of theory and models that they as the university hope are broad enough to still be somewhat relevant half a decade later when the student graduates.
So what do you do if you are truly passionate about business and marketing and I just burst your bubble about learning this practice in the college setting? My advice is to teach yourself. Build a business online. If for nothing else, build a business purely to test current and future marketing models and platforms. This will allow you to gain expertise' and experience that you can utilize later on in life should you decide to become an entrepreneur. It will also provide substantial value to employers should you decide to become employed as a marketer.
The world is rapidly evolving and business and marketing is one of the most fast paced parts of this evolution. Keep this in-mind before you invest half a decade and thousands of dollars pursuing an education that may be obsolete upon graduation day.
Michael Price is an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial's Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World. An advocate of ideas for radical change, he has received critical acclaim for his lessons in education, career, entrepreneurship, and personal finance.