Marketing has always been important to successful business operations and plays a more central role now than ever before. With so many companies competing for customer attention, a well-executed marketing strategy can be the key to success. That's one reason the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts higher-than-average growth for marketing manager roles, with 24,300 new jobs created through 2032.1
Moreover, because modern consumers are more informed and discerning than ever, businesses prioritizing integrated marketing communications (IMC) have a clear advantage in staying top of mind, building trust-based customer relationships and ultimately driving sustainable growth. Integrated marketing communications roles offer opportunities for career impact, growth and satisfaction. This blog explores essential skills for advancing in marketing and how a master's in integrated marketing communications can help you attain your career goals.
How an Integrated Marketing Communication Master's Can Help Advance Your Career
An integrated marketing communications master's degree program like the IMC Professional program at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications offers a comprehensive curriculum covering the hard and soft skills of marketing leadership, including strategic, analytical, digital and creative competencies.
7 Advanced Skills for Marketing Leadership
Here's a brief list of career-boosting knowledge and skills, including expertise in specific marketing disciplines and interpersonal skills, that the best IMC master’s programs will help you develop.
Core leadership skills for marketing executives include managing teams and driving strategy execution. Interpersonal communication skills, cultural sensitivity and support of an inclusive workplace are key to inspiring your team's best work. Presentation skills help you influence colleagues and shape activities to accomplish business goals.
Sound marketing leadership relies on accurate analysis of market trends, business competitors and consumer behavior. Couple these with a fully articulated strategy to optimize your market position and achieve business goals through brand management and marketing activations.
Ryan Reis, a lecturer in the IMC Professional program with Fortune 500 marketing leadership experience, stresses the value of a well-communicated strategy. “There's a clarity that comes out of brand positioning, telling your story–who you are–that then helps drive clarity in your integrated marketing downstream,” Reis said.
To succeed as a marketing manager, you must effectively plan, delegate and implement tasks. Project management skills help you stay on top of your team's needs, collaborate cross-functionally and manage stakeholders' expectations to reach business objectives.
Data Analysis and Visualization
Competence with data analysis tools and techniques, including business and marketing analytics applications, helps you understand customer preferences, predict future trends and connect marketing campaigns to business outcomes.
Creative approaches to attaining business goals and solving customer needs are critical for developing engaging ad campaigns and innovative solutions. The most successful marketing campaigns base creative execution on well-designed, on-point market research.
Understanding the use cases and best practices for digital marketing, including SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media, is required in today's digital-centric world.
Hands-on familiarity with the marketing technology (MarTech) tools that enable digital marketing at scale, including CRM systems and AI-enabled tools for content generation, market analysis and customer scoring and targeting, will improve your competitive positioning in the job market.
Choose Your Focus and Get Real-World Experience at Medill
Through hands-on projects, collaborative presentations and case study analyses, Medill IMC Professional coursework helps you gain real-world experience, preparing you for a successful career in marketing management. Choose your electives to build expertise in specific marketing and communications disciplines, including:
- Organizational communication
- Brand management
- Marketing strategies
- Crisis communication
- Social media
- Media relations
- Public relations
Opportunities to expand your professional network and polish your networking skills are equally important benefits of getting your master's in integrated marketing communications.
The Vital Role of Networking in Career Growth
Networking is a valuable tool that can immensely benefit any professional seeking career opportunities and professional growth. Networking entails building relationships and contacts with people in your industry who can offer insights, advice or recommendations. Effective networking can lead to new career paths, business ventures or even mentorship opportunities that can help shape your career. There's a common saying that "it's not just what you know, it's who you know," and 76% of people in a global LinkedIn survey agreed that knowing the right people is vital to success.2 A U.S. News article about job searching says that only about 15% of job openings are posted on job boards. Most of them are filled by internal candidates or referrals.3
While the exact numbers vary, several studies show most people get job offers through their professional networks. Further, leads for new job opportunities are more likely to come from people whom you don’t know well because they can broaden your network.4, 5
Build Your Professional Network While Earning Your Master's Degree
As a master's student in an integrated marketing communication program, you will have numerous opportunities to build your network. The options begin with your classes, where you can network and collaborate with other career-minded working professionals as you get hands-on experience on group assignments.
Get to Know Your Peers and Professors
Your professors can also become part of your professional network, alerting you to job openings and other professional development opportunities. They also frequently leverage their contacts to bring in guest speakers and facilitate real-world projects for their students. Northwestern alumni who participated in a panel discussion for a 2023 Medill immersive course in New York City included Carlos Zepeda, senior vice president of consumer connections, insights and strategy at Moȅt Hennessy USA, Melissa Grady Dias, chief marketing officer at Cadillac, Brian Weidy, head of digital media at Anheuser-Busch and Maira Grylli, executive director of behavior change marketing at Aetna, a CVS Health Company.6
Participate in Extracurricular Events
Networking opportunities also extend beyond the confines of coursework. The university's career services department or student organizations may organize extracurricular events. Watch for career fairs, information sessions, business recruiting events and workshops on professional development and industry topics. Be ready to give your professional elevator pitch, describing your background, qualifications and goals, at every event.
Medill IMC Professional students are also granted access to Handshake, the premier online student networking tool, to help broaden their professional networks. As a student and alumnus, you can attend virtual and in-person events, schedule individual time with recruiters, and search for relevant job postings.
How Can an Integrated Marketing Communications Master's Improve Your Earning Potential?
Knowledge is power, particularly in marketing—a field that continually adapts to changes in technology and culture. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has found that every educational achievement adds to your earning potential and insulates you from economic downturns. BLS data for 2022 shows that while the national unemployment rate for bachelor's degree holders was 2.2%, it was 1.9% for those with master's degrees.7
Access to cutting-edge marketing tools and peerless thought leadership of the Medill faculty add even more career value to your MS degree from the IMC Professional program. With the knowledge you gain from the program and insights from Medill’s expert faculty, you will develop your professional network, interpersonal communications and strategic marketing skills to compete for and thrive in higher-level roles.
Join Growth-Minded Marketers in the Medill IMC Professional Program
The IMC Professional master's program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is designed to allow working marketers to continue their careers while expanding their expertise and professional networks. Medill launched the first IMC master's program for marketing communications leaders in the early 1990s, and the program continues to define professional excellence amid the accelerating changes in today's marketing landscape.
IMC Professional faculty and alumni are industry experts and academic thought leaders who have shaped today's marketing field. Get to know them and other growth-minded marketing professionals when you enroll as a student in this ground-breaking program. Contact an admissions outreach advisor or download a program brochure to learn more.
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-1
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from economicgraph.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/emerging-jobs-report/pdf/LinkedIn-Opportunity-Index-2020-Global-White-paper.pdf
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/09/17/dont-believe-these-8-job-search-myths
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from www.payscale.com/career-advice/many-jobs-found-networking/
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-massive-linkedin-study-reveals-who-actually-helps-you-get-that-job/
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from linkedin.com/posts/daniellerobinsonbell_imc-marketing-communications-activity-7059612478262939648-61AB?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop
- Retrieved on September 12, 2023, from bls.gov/careeroutlook/2023/data-on-display/education-pays.htm