2 things every marketing student should study

I had a marketing student ask me recently what courses he should take in addition to those in his major. It was a good question. I had to stop and think about it for a moment. I realized I couldn't answer it specifically since I don't know enough about any individual program. But I could offer this piece of advice:

Take classes that help you understand:

  1. The gathering and analysis of data
  2. How human behavior affects purchase decisions

Data tells us what happened

Who bought? When did they buy? Where did they buy? And how much? The data helps us understand how our customers acted. It can come from sales data, web analytics, and more.

We need to be able to take a look at the data and identify patterns and trends. These patterns and trends can be valuable as we make decisions about our marketing efforts. It can inform everything from timing to channels to messaging.

Human behavior helps us understand why it happened

If the data tells us what happened, then the study of human behavior helps us understand why those things happened. In the easiest terms, this is the insight that comes from the data. And while numbers are powerful, the insight about human behavior that comes from those numbers is exponentially more valuable.

It’s this insight that opens the door to big ideas. Data shows us what they’re doing. We then ask, “Why did this set of humans act that way?” That leads to inspirations like, “Knowing that, maybe we could make it easier for them by doing X.” Or, “They’re doing a work-around because what they really want doesn’t exist yet! We could create a new offering that could address this unmet need!” That’s when the marketing gets really interesting.

By understanding the data and human behavior, we create the opportunity to develop something that helps our audiences solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Something meaningful and valuable. That’s something we all should keep studying.