What Do Marketers Do? A Closer Look at the Job Description
You’ve heard about marketing for a long time, and you probably even know some people in the field. But when you ask yourself, “What do marketers do?” the details get a little fuzzy. In a field as broad as marketing—there’s a good reason for that. The marketing job description can look 100 percent different for two professionals who share the same or similar job titles!
Marketing is an expansive area of expertise that encompasses many different focus areas, skills and job descriptions. Working in a marketing position involves showcasing a company in a positive light, often by showing customers or clients why they should trust a company and purchase its goods or services.
What, specifically, does a marketer do? There truly are hundreds of job descriptions. But we asked marketers to share about some of the bigger marketing categories, as well as their job descriptions, to help fire your imagination. Take a closer look at these forms of marketing to see whether you could see yourself in this field.
The marketing job description
Marketers are the brains behind getting the word out about their organization’s products or services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they monitor market trends, create advertising campaigns, develop pricing strategies and targeting strategies based on demographic data and work with the company to develop more awareness of what they offer.1
When it comes to defining the marketing job description, Rebecca Gutierrez, VP of marketing at Blink Charging, says you’re not likely to find a universal answer. “As a marketer at small and medium-size businesses I cannot focus on any specific type of marketing skill or channel but rather must be familiar and experienced in everything,” Gutierrez says.
Whether it’s a bit of graphic design, engaging in public relations, digital marketing, search engine optimization and even web design—marketers work across many different channels and skill areas, according to Gutierrez. “The amount of skills required of marketers has been increased with technological advancements.”
Instead of a broad catchall job description, you’re more likely to find individual job descriptions for several specialized roles. Many of these roles fall into one of two buckets—digital marketing and traditional marketing.
What do marketers do in digital marketing?
One huge category of marketing these days is digital marketing. If you think about everything that happens online these days, you’ll have a hint at how vast these efforts are by themselves. We asked digital marketing professionals to talk about different kinds of marketing in this branch of the field. It is important to note, however, that these categories overlap and shift constantly. This is just a snapshot of some of the many marketing focuses out there.
Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing
PPC marketing involves sponsored content in search engines, on websites—and so much more. In many cases, these are the people who make sure a business’s product or service landing page is at or near the top of search results by paying for placement. This is the “paid” portion of search engine marketing—there are also “organic” roles used for increasing a website’s search engine visibility.
“With frequent updates and new features introduced regularly, you have to make an effort to keep up to date with what is going on—or risk dropping behind the curve,” says Jamie Burgess, SEO/PPC account manager at Cariad Marketing. “Working for an agency, I gain exposure to a wide range of clients and industries, which is a great way to learn what works for both specific niches and online in general.”
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO also involves working with search engines, but by appealing to their algorithms instead of paying up front for a burst of time at the top of the rankings. This is part of the “organic” side of search engine marketing. “SEO is very much a long-term strategy,” says James Robinson, marketing manager at Buffalo 7. “Changes you make today may not have an impact for months.”
Robinson says SEO marketing, especially when it’s aimed at attracting businesses, can be the most cost-effective form of marketing available. “You have to stay really up to date and as Google® changes their algorithms, you have to change with them if you want to continue getting results. It’s getting harder and harder, but that means it’s easier to pull away from your competition if you invest in it properly.”
“The difference between content marketing and other, mainly traditional, kinds of marketing is that content marketing isn’t selling the products or services,” says Raj Vardhman of 99firms.com. “Its main purpose is to bring value to customers and build strong relations between the brand and the customers.”
Much like SEO (and often in tandem with SEO) content marketing takes buildup to become effective. Vardhman says the return on investment with content marketing is hard to calculate—especially in the beginning.
“As a content marketer, my job is to find the most engaging, creative and concise way to communicate what our company is all about,” says Saralyn Ward, marketing and communications manager at Page 1 Solutions. Since content marketers try to attract consumers, they research subjects their prospective audiences care about, and create content that will interest and inform them. “I like that my job requires me to think outside of the box and to come up with new ways of communicating.”
“My area of expertise is video and content marketing,” says Chris Stasiuk, founder and creative director of Signature Video Group. “Long story short, we turn our clients’ stories into video assets that help them solve business problems.”
Stasiuk explains that video marketers can track engagement at a much deeper level than many other forms of marketing. “We can see not only who watched a video, but also if they paused, rewound, watched twice or clicked away after a few seconds. This data helps us make better future content and ultimately become better marketers.”
Common digital marketing job titles
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, the following job titles are all commonly associated with digital marketing:
- Social media manager
- SEO specialist
- Digital brand manager
- Paid-media specialist
- Content marketing specialist
What do marketers do in traditional marketing?
Traditional marketing doesn’t exclude digital outreach efforts, but it’s less concerned with some of the main tools digital marketing relies on. If you think of the way marketing work was done even 20 years ago, you’ll have a better idea of what this umbrella term covers—radio, television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, telemarketing, face-to-face efforts and more. For many companies—a non-digital approach connects better with their customer base.
“I work at a marketing agency that specializes in experiential marketing,” says Emily Fritz, marketing manager at dio. “It’s a growing trend in marketing that directly engages consumers by inviting them to participate in an interactive, real-life, usually hands-on, brand activation.” Fritz says experiential marketing might look like pop-up shops, a virtual reality installment or a series of events.
“In a digital-heavy world, experiential marketing stands out and breaks through the clutter. It is a real-life experience that more expressly communicates a brand’s positioning and persona,” Fritz explains.
Since this kind of marketing campaign is more about relationship-building, Fritz says it can help with building and retaining brand loyalty. A brick-and-mortar craft store, for example, could launch a craft-making event in the shop, creating buzz, opportunities to educate consumers about the business and reinforce people’s understanding of the brand.
“Don’t blindly follow all things digital, just because the world is digital right now,” Fritz says. “Humans are starting to crave visceral experiences outside of their screens. Be open to explore all marketing disciplines: research, sales, strategy, analyst, media, advertising, creative, retail, content, digital, social media, email, public relations, affiliate, sponsorship, print, broadcast, emerging media, trade show, event and yes, experiential!”
Even if you specialize in something down the road, Fritz explains the smattering of experience you gained in many disciplines will only make your specialized work better.
Billboards, bus stops, cafe bulletin boards ... local marketing is everywhere. If your company exists in a physical space, odds are, some element of local marketing (whether traditional or digital) will be part of your game plan.
Gutierrez emphasizes that many marketers will use a wide variety of marketing approaches in their jobs, specializing in their representation of a company more than any specific marketing style. “There is never a dull day when you have a wide range of marketing skills. One day I may be designing an email campaign for a business-to-business product, and the next day I may be working alongside my graphic designer on an advertising campaign for taxis and bus stops, supported by social media marketing.”
The wide array of projects keeps every day exciting, according to Gutierrez, and finding good ways to engage a local customer base is an important way to gain experience. “I would recommend getting involved in local marketing and nonprofit organizations,” she says. “These groups also frequently need volunteers.”
Another marketing focus-area that doesn’t always neatly sort between traditional and digital, market research is the practice of mining various forms of data in order to more effectively market a product. To do this, they conduct competitive research, consumer surveys and interview panels of potential customers. This information is then used to help determine product positioning, price, key messages and other important strategic decisions—many of which span both traditional and digital marketing.
Common traditional marketing job titles
Like the list of digital marketing job titles, this is just scratching the surface—but if you’d like to focus your career on the “traditional” side of marketing, look for job titles similar to the following:
- Marketing generalist
- Community marketing coordinator
- Brand manager
- Promotions director
- Business development strategist
What do marketers do?
After reading this, you might be thinking that the better question is, “What don’t marketers do?” Going from all of these roles, methods and marketing job descriptions—it’s a safe bet to say marketers have a huge variety of options for applying their creativity and strategic-thinking abilities.
If you think a career with so many options sounds exhilarating, have you ever considered getting into marketing? “Marketing as an industry offers the most diversity in terms of day-to-day work,” Ward says. “And there is a role for almost any skill set.”
If you like writing, there’s content marketing. If you like engaging visuals, there’s graphic or web design, Ward explains. “Do you like puzzle solving? You might thrive in SEO and paid ads. Analysis driven? Data analytics might be your thing. Managing relationships? Perhaps you’d be great at account management.”
If you are curious about what a career in marketing might mean for you, check out “Should I Be a Marketing Major? Everything You Need to Know to Decide” to get more information.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed June, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2019.