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Prepare for Marketing Leadership With an MBA

One of the most important qualities of the best and most transformative marketing leaders is the ability to blend right brain and left brain, according to Tim Kopp, former CMO of ExactTarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud).

“You need to be as comfortable in the bowels of a spreadsheet as you are in a PowerPoint. In one moment, you’re going to be digging in and understanding analytics. And in another moment, standing up in front of a group of a thousand people communicating a vision,” Kopp says.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates gain experience with data analytics, which would be a so-called “left-brain” focus, along with logic, mathematics and language. The more “right-brain” qualities of creativity and artistic ability are crucial marketing skills. So even though the brain dominance notion has been debunked, most notably by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the point that Kopp makes is still valid. The best leaders in marketing know that a successful marketing strategy requires expertise in all these areas.

An MBA program with an emphasis in marketing provides thorough preparation for a marketing leadership career. According to Kopp, there’s never been a better time to be a marketer. “Where else would you want to be right now than in marketing? It’s fluid, it’s dynamic, it’s strategic — it’s just awesome.”

Bringing It All Together

Marketing leaders are tasked with managing a diverse team or department of professionals with a wide variety of skills, including graphic design, market research, data analytics, public relations, advertising, content production, sales and more. The ability to bring those diverse skills together harmoniously to achieve goals is crucial to marketing success. A marketing-focused online MBA program strengthens the skills needed to drive that success.

An online MBA program that focuses on marketing provides students with the training, skills and tools they will need to handle marketing management and leadership roles. These skills include understanding digital marketing, being proficient in data analytics, excelling at communication, being able to see the big picture and set strategies to achieve goals, and being adept at organization, all of which are areas of study in an MBA program. In addition, MBA coursework also educates students in economics, accounting, human resources, management, teamwork and other managerial skills.

What Do CMOs Think?

Marketing leadership expert Thomas Barta has conducted research on what makes for an impactful CMO. In the world’s largest study, with over 68,000 executive assessments, Barta has found that the most successful marketing leaders “are those who help their company maximize the overlap between its own and its customers’ needs.” What this means in practice is that focusing efforts on where customer needs and company needs overlap produces the greatest value for both and is the key principle behind successful marketing leadership. This is not only applicable to marketing, but is a sound business principle as well. Invest in and focus on the things that help both you and your customers succeed.

Marketing Leaders Impact the Whole Company

Company culture is often driven by marketing, and it reaches beyond the physical environs of your office space. Today, employee review sites like Glassdoor give potential employees and prospective customers insight into what your culture is really like. Marketing leaders understand this and should be fostering a culture that helps employees thrive. MBA programs help develop the types of leadership skills needed to bring out the best in employees while helping them grow and succeed.

What Starting Salaries Are Typical for MBA Grads?

Career advancement and attractive job titles aren’t the only rewards for earning an MBA. The possible salary boost can also make the investment of time and effort to achieve the degree worthwhile. U.S. News and World Report data shows that between 2011 and 2016, average starting salaries and bonuses for MBA graduates rose 12.9 percent — at nearly double the rate of inflation — increasing from $83,280.51 to $94,048.24. In a 2016 year-end poll of employers, the Graduate Management Admission Council found that 58 percent of MBA employers planned to increase salaries for the class of 2017 at or above the rate of inflation.

Businesses view job candidates with an MBA as more likely not only to see the big picture but also to be well-versed in all aspects of business. While marketing certainly involves creativity, effective marketing leadership depends on strategic know-how, critical thinking, data analysis and business acumen. By earning a marketing-focused MBA, those pursuing a marketing leadership career can gain the knowledge and skills required for success.

Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis in marketing program.

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