Top performing companies in South Africa continue to thrive despite economic downturns and unpredictable markets. Key to this success are those executives whose innovative leadership finds new ways to solve complex marketing challenges and create opportunities to increase company growth.
Marketing, by definition, is an essential business function and embraces the entire company, its brand, its products and its customers. “But marketing is a totally different scenario to what it used to be,” says Simon Taylor, dean of post-graduate studies, at the IMM Graduate School of Marketing (IMM GSM).
“Today’s hyper-competitive business environment sees consumer needs continuously changing and adapting. They are more educated, better informed and are now more value- and price-conscious. Their expectations are higher and they are no longer willing to be pushed around. In short, they want high value products and better customer service. A marketing qualification to enter into business is now more than a nice-to-have, it’s often an essential,” he says.
The IMM GSM has introduced two new distance-learning marketing degrees: Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) in Marketing Management and the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) Honours in Marketing Management. They are offered at level 8 and level 9 respectively on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
The M Phil includes a research dissertation that should be completed within three years and is intended for those who have an honours degree in marketing and extensive experience in the marketing field.
On the other hand, the B Phil Honours is aimed at those who already have a marketing degree. It has five compulsory modules which include advanced global marketing, research, strategic marketing and a practicum. There is a choice of electives such as brand management, marketing management, digital marketing and services marketing.
“The advent of social media has revolutionised the way in which companies think and operate. The old market research method of collecting information and compiling statistics has been supplemented by newer forms of data collection such as focus groups, online chat groups, Facebook. There is now more emphasis on relationship marketing (long term engagement with the customer) via building trust in the brand and growing customer loyalty,” says Taylor.
In terms of career planning, employers are increasingly seeking greater degrees of knowledge, application and professionalism. As the marketing function often accounts for one of the largest expenditures within a company, many employees are directly or indirectly involved in marketing the organisation. Furthermore, the demand for qualified, effective marketers becomes even greater at a time of economic fluctuations, when it is critical to match scarce financial resources to the best possible opportunities for growth.
“Studying on line has become an interesting and sought after option because many professionals realise that this method allows them to study in their own time and enables them to immediately apply their new learnt knowledge in their own working environment,” he says.