It’s not always so clear whether you should get an advanced degree in marketing. It certainly is a crowded field, but further studying comes at a cost of time and money… So what do we do? It depends on your goals and where you’re coming from.
In this video, I’ll share my thoughts on what you should do depending on your career paths and/or entrepreneurial interests and pursuits. Where am I coming from? I double-majored in undergrad (marketing and operations), got my MBA in marketing, teach a marketing college class, and have run my own marketing consultancy since college.
So I want to respond to a question about I’m in marketing and is it worth it for me to get my masters or my MBA? And this question comes up a lot. And to give you some context about myself, I went to school as an undergrad. I double majored in marketing and operations management. I then went to graduate school as well for marketing, got my MBA specializing in marketing. I teach a marketing college class introduction to marketing. I run my own business and I have run my own business. Yes. Since I was going for my MBA, that is all held within that type of experience. That background, I don’t have firsthand experience in corporate America and where it fits there, but I will speak to where that fits into the picture in your thinking. So is it worth it to get my masters in marketing?
Is it worth it to get my MBA? And that’s going to depend on three main factors. And the first thing is your background. Do you come from a marketing background? Have you studied marketing or are you in some other field that you go to school for something irrelevant to marketing and, and the weight of that is going to play a significant factor. In my opinion here, if you studied marketing in school and particularly if you’re just finishing college and you’re thinking about going right into a master’s program or getting your MBA, is it worth it to study marketing more? And I think the marginal increase in knowledge that you’ll gain is incredibly small. If you had some different background, though, on the other side, if you went and you were studying to be a teacher, if you’re studying sociology, if you were studying nursing, whatever field it might be, and then you decided to switch into marketing, that’s where I think you’ll get a lot of value from the formal education.
So you’re learning in that case, how to think with a business mind, how to think about marketing in different capacities, and it’s all fresh to you. And I think you’re in a very strong place by having a different background potentially stronger than someone who studied marketing throughout. But that’s going to weigh into the factor of the equation here. If you already studied marketing. And especially if that was very recent, it’s probably going to give you very little value in terms of actual education of skills. So what about the second element, your future looking at the past, your background and next the future of what’s ahead. And this is what you think your future is going to look like, what you want it to look like. Okay. So if you’re going down the corporate America path, then there’s some value to being able to stand out in some capacity city to show that you have your studies in order.
So that’s where the MBA, the masters might be more relevant in depending on what path that looks like. It might be more or less. And even if it’s never a requirement explicitly, it could be a requirement to make the progress that you want to see. If you’re working, working with a small business, if you’re thinking about becoming a marketing director for a small company, a local business even midsized in that category, the actual value of the master’s and the MBA in terms of accelerating your career might be a little bit less than corporate. And there’s some ranges there, of course, but it shouldn’t be something that you feel is absolutely necessary because many of these businesses don’t necessarily care about the MBA. It might be a great differentiating factor, but it’s not something where you check the box and that alone is going to accelerate you ahead.
You could go down the agency path. So if you want to work for a marketing agency, where does the master’s in the MBA stand? Well, that’s going to depend again on your background to a degree. So agencies are pretty good at taking people in showing them the ropes, teaching them the process. And many times you start off as an account manager and you learn a little bit of everything, but if you come in there and you also have your masters, you don’t have a marketing background, but you at least have the studies in at that level that is going to give you quite a bit of value. And I think agencies in particular tend to value the differing background with the master’s or the MBA much more so than the typical small midsize business would. So that path, it could be a good help.
Now we didn’t talk about ROI and all of that yet, but we will later, the other path you can take is that you’re going to be self employed. You’re going to be a marketing consultant. You’re going to run your own marketing agency, something along that path, or you’re going to run your own business outside of marketing. We want to make sure that you have a good basis and how to bring customers in, in that regard. I would say that the marginal value there is the smallest, you know, something that I know firsthand width. And yeah, isn’t a way to talk down to my marketing education. I value, I appreciate it. But realistically, was it that helpful in actually improving my understanding of marketing, very limited, and also keeping in mind that I had studied marketing undergrad as well, but no, one’s really checking to see if you have a master’s or an MBA.
Your clients don’t necessarily care. It’s not going to be on their mind at all. You can use it as an advantage and some do like to see the MBA background. We appreciate that, but it’s not going to be a main selling factor. So if that’s in your future, that’s something to consider. And maybe it isn’t exactly the right way to go. And the final piece of the equation, there’s the background in the future. And then there’s the goal of what is ahead or what do you want to be ahead? And how does education fit into that? I think there, it could be because your goal is to learn and that capacity, again, depends on your background. If it was in marketing already, you’re not going to learn a lot more. If it is a background that isn’t related to marketing at all, then you have a good amount to learn there.
The other element that you want to consider though, is will you be able to apply what you’re learning? Now? I gained a lot of value from my MBA because I was already in business for myself and I was able to apply everything outside of marketing specifically, I was able to apply everything to my own business, to a degree. I was able to apply what we’re talking about in marketing to my business or to my clients. Now, if you’re not in business, if you can’t apply it, if you’re not working for anyone, then the marginal value of what you can learn greatly is reduced. So maybe your goal is to network. And this is where you have to really consider what is the network of the school that I’m looking at? What is that going to let me tap into and how am I looking to use that?
Is it because I want to build my own marketing business and find clients, or is it to network to help myself find a job in a corporate world or a local business, or what have you, so you need to measure what is the network value. And typically if you speak to schools, they’re trying to sell you on the network. That’s always part of the pitch. So get a good understanding of where the network actually is. Is there a concentration in a certain city that you’re looking to move to, or to work within a, in a certain industry, in a certain field, they should have information on that for you to help you make that decision. So you can start to quantify how valuable that network is. Now it’s not a make or break. I never found the network of the school to be that big of a factor, but it will depend on how much connection there is at that school.
Sometimes school schools kinda really nurture that connection between students or alumni and students or fellow alumni. And sometimes it’s a bit of an afterthought, but typically it is helpful. It just, again, is another measure of the value equation. And sometimes the goal isn’t really to learn or to network. And we might say those things, but the ultimate goal is just to accomplish something you want to get your master’s, your advanced degree or grad graduate degree. You like the idea of having an MBA at the end of your name. And sometimes in life, we have to be a little selfish to indulge ourselves in those pursuits. And as long as the other elements, the other value factors are somewhat relevant. You can take that into account and give yourself a little bit of leeway of, well, it is going to cost me a little bit, but I’ll have a good network and I’ll have, you know, some value in my career.
And ultimately it will make me feel good. That’s okay, too. The question here is what are you going to have to put in in time and money and what are you going to get out? So you can measure all of those different elements to a degree and get a good feeling of where you’re going to be. But I really think there’s two ways to look at your advanced degree. You’re either going into Harvard and Stanford, MIT, those schools that have a very strong name, the Wharton’s out there, the elite of the class. And they have a tremendous value because of the name recognition because of the network that they have. And then there’s the rest. And the rest will be compiled of all different schools. If you look at at least those that are accredited as a baseline, to know that you’re getting a pretty good quality, then you should take into account some factors of what is the real value.
And either if you can get into the Harvard’s out there, then go down that path because there’s great value. But if you’re not, don’t pay Harvard money for a B-level school. There’s B level schools at a variety of price ranges, and you should take the price into the equation. If the ultimate value isn’t elevated by being one of those elite institutions that said, it’s not all about the dollar at the end of the day, there’s other factors to consider in the program of study at the time of day that they’re offering classes. Ultimately that’s something to consider in the ROI equation. So, you know, look at your background, look at your future with your goals, determine based on those that, that trifecta, where does education fit, and ultimately it doesn’t have to fit in your future. You don’t have to get an advanced degree and there’s plenty of people that make it very far and to the top, whatever that might mean to you without studying at the graduate level.
So don’t feel compelled that you have to, but I hope that gives you some structure on how to think about it. And ultimately you, you can look at that ROI equation and start to determine what do I have to put in what time also am I putting into this and what am I going to get out? And that might be able to help you make some progress and, you know, take a personal look. There’s obviously some changes in salary. Do some research on that because it’s going to range quite a bit based on if you’re going into corporate America, small business agencies. And at that, what location you’re in. So that’s something you might want to do on your own, but use this as a framework to think about, is it worth it to get my masters or to get my MBA.
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