Let’s talk about marketing at ODU. I’m mainly writing this for the benefit of the younger siblings of undergrads at ODU, local high school students, and other potential students of ODU. I really want to share my experience of studying marketing, and why it’s an important skill to have in the world. And how to study it, and get experience!

Alternatives

Firstly, before I tell you how great my undergrad has been, let’s look carefully at the other popular options that someone might be looking at, instead of marketing. The first thing that comes to mind for studying at college is law, medicine and engineering. Then the arts, language, and other subjects. Law is extremely hard to get into, and even harder to pass, I’ve heard. I have a few friends who study law and they seem to be having a really tough time. That said, they’ll probably be making more than the rest of us, and charging by the second, so perhaps it’s deserved. If you have the option and the inclination, you should consider studying law. Similarly for medicine. I’m a bit squeamish about chopping people up and needles so even if I had the grades, I probably wouldn’t want to become a doctor. But then again, they probably make more money than everyone else, even if their handwriting is terrible! So this brings us to engineering. I really like the idea that you can just build a rocket or a giant dam, or the automobile or any of the other huge engineering projects that the US has completed over the past 200 years. But it’s not for me, I just don’t have the chops for the math that’s required. I’m a bit jealous, but it’s true that without marketing, they’d never have sold a car, not one. Without marketing, even the shiniest coolest rocket would be blasting off to an audience of two people: the guy who says "Houston, we have a problem", and the other guy who is supposed to do something about that. So without putting down the engineering department, I love marketing because it enables all those amazing engineers to make money from their hard work. So that’s it, that’s the decision made: it’s marketing for me.

What is marketing?

To me, marketing is about creating a piece of creative work that aims to convince someone of something, and while it doesn’t look like art, it actually is a kind of art. Take for example, a newspaper ad: you might think that this is an old and ineffective kind of marketing. But it’s actually really effective, millions of people still read newspapers. Recently my dad bought a riding lawnmower. I am always interested in how people come to make decisions and what marketing they have encountered along the way. So I asked him "Do you know why you bought that particular brand of mower?" He said he didn’t know, that he couldn’t remember. I looked at the stack of old newspapers near the kitchen table and sure enough, there were a few full-page color advertisements there, with the exact brand that he bought. Coincidence? I think not. So you see, marketing works on us even when we don’t know that it works on us. Marketing (even the old and supposedly declining methods) work, and are vital to business succeeding. Imagine how much more you can do with digital marketing!

How to get good at it?

Of course, you should come and study marketing at ODU with me! Some of the things you’ll be able to understand are the following:

  1. What is being sold, and to who (at a high level)
  2. Why some marketing works and why some doesn’t
  3. How much is a product should be sold for
  4. What is a marketing campaign
  5. What is the best way to sell example products
  6. And much more

But beyond that short and easy answer, one of the fastest ways to learn is to go and do an internship at a successful company that does marketing. Then you are really going to learn what the customer really wants, what the business does on the inside, and you get to apply all of the theory that you’ve learned in lectures and in textbooks. There’s really no better way to learn it. So roll up your sleeve and get your hands dirty in the world of marketing. Thanks for reading!