BY ANNABEL MONAGHAN
Business degrees come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of degree type varieties (such as entrepreneurship, administration, and management) and dozens of more certificate/minor programs. A business degree is designed to be a generalist degree while simultaneously fostering a high level of career options. There have been historical commonalities amongst these different paths to a business degree, such as a broad understanding of organizations, strategy and policy, and finance fundamentals. The most competitive business schools keep a great pulse on the economy and modify their curriculum to reflect recent innovation and best practice, in order to provide output of the most relevant and highly-qualified graduates.
Since business schools clearly see an importance in maintaining relevance in their curriculum, it leaves one wondering why there is not always an inclusion of digital marketing skills within every business degree program. The overwhelming majority of business degree programs entail at least an introduction to marketing. Even for those that do not specialize within marketing, such as those pursuing a management career track, it is essential that those whom manage marketing personnel have a rudimentary understanding of marketing. If the desired outcome of a business degree is a business professional that can do a little bit of everything, and has the foundational knowledge to work with all corporate job functions, business degree programs are falling alarmingly behind in setting students up for success in regards to working with modern marketing teams. The recent graduate with a business degree is expected to have not just highly relevant, but highly varied business skills that transcend several corporate job functions.
Digital marketing is the new gold standard of marketing. A recent graduate with a business degree, as well as anyone that has been in business for even a few weeks, understands the importance of lead generation and the full sales cycle. Marketing, and in modern times, most importantly, digital marketing, is the cornerstone of success in these aspects of business. Digital marketing constitutes a substantially higher percentile of marketing expense than traditional marketing, with forecasted digital marketing spend increasing and traditional marketing spend decreasing. The need to have a foundational understanding of such a large budgetary allocation is a critical skill set to fulfill for anyone in business.
Anyone in business knows that what matters to shareholders and the big executives, or even your manager as an entry-level worker, are the deliverables. Put simply, what talks in business are numbers and money- not guesswork. What separates digital marketing from traditional marketing is the increased ability to gather these hard numbers, providing the ability for marketing professionals to report KPIs and analytics to business decision-makers. If a business decision-maker is unable to comprehend what these numbers mean, they’re likely out of a job. The level of irony in a lack of digital marketing knowledge will not be lost on prospective employers, and a failure to implement digital marketing knowledge in business degree programs will devalue business degrees.
A core foundation in digital marketing fundamentals such as social media platforms, digital advertising budgets, social media calendars, and content automation needs to be implemented alongside historically taught (and still equally important, as well as leveraged in digital marketing) topics such as market and demographic research. A business could have the most experienced and talented marketing professional or team, but without the management and leadership to properly assess their performance, feedback, and metrics, the growth of that business is stunted. This has been a fatal mistake made by many late-adopters of digital marketing and technology, becoming rapidly overtaken by competitors that made the choice to stay relevant.
Decisions that a business graduate might make include decisions that stem beyond proposed and ongoing digital marketing campaigns. Selecting your digital marketing employee, team, or outsourcing is one of the most important decisions one will make in business. Lacking the fundamental knowledge of digital marketing will result only in a complete inability to make the right choice in digital marketing strategists, which can have devastating results for your business. Selecting the wrong PPC management services not only provides a nonexistent ROI for your business investment, but renders a sunk cost, hurts your business’ branding, and leaves a permanent stain on your individual reputation.
Every business degree should create a fundamental understanding of core digital marketing concepts such as SEO, data-driven marketing, content strategy, social media management, platform selection, and customer experience. Many of the topics mentioned previously directly tie in to existing marketing topics instructed in major business degree programs. For example, most business degree programs include lectures on demographic research, which leads directly into platform selection: how many of your potential customers use a cell phone relative to a laptop, how often, and when? The core understanding of these topics is derived from business finesse regardless, so if your digital marketing experts are already knowledgeable about business fundamentals (and if they are competent digital marketing experts, they are certainly knowledgeable of business fundamentals,) bringing this full circle requires business specialists with a core foundation in digital marketing fundamentals.