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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

The ROI of marketing careers

By Carter Hammett
Special to the Toronto Sun

It's been a scant few years since corporate guru Sergio Zyman pronounced that "traditional marketing is as dead as Elvis, it's just that most businesses don't know it yet." But this fact has also paved new vistas into a field starving for fresh perspectives, say marketing experts.
Marketing researcher

Elvis may have indeed "left the building," but in his wake a torrential flood of change has swept the marketing field as marketing agencies, trapped in old modes of advertising thought like television spending, struggle to meet the demands of clients who are eager to reach new audiences.

Recent grads entering the field or considering a marketing career should see this as a positive thing, says Bill Ratcliffe, a marketing researcher with industry leader Millward-Brown (

"The old rules in marketing no longer work and the new rules haven't been written yet," he says. "Turbulence breeds opportunity for people entering professions. Right now, ad agencies are scrambling to reinvent themselves and they can benefit from the fresh thought offered by a post-TV generation."
Keynote speaker

Industry leaders recently gathered in Toronto at an executive learning forum sponsored by, among others, Creative Transition Resources ( to discuss massive shifts in the field.

The key theme of the forum was to discuss how marketing as an industry has diverged in recent years. Marketing no longer means plain advertising or plain creative. Financial investors, hungry for a return on investment (ROI) have put increasing pressure on ad agencies to be more accountable and prove that marketing demonstrates growth.

This in turn has helped carve a shift in the choice and type of marketing investments to encompass more demonstrable activities like customer relationship marketing or web-based advertising.

"It's not unreasonable for investors to expect a return," says keynote John Bradley, president of Y Knot Strategic Solutions ( "For 50 years, the industry accepted that results couldn't be demonstrated.

"During the 1960s, the United States could reach 80% of the country on three networks. Now you have to use 100 networks. Cost has increased to a point where ads don't pay back. Advertisers are starting to see this as a 'business tax' and spending less, which is sensible, when it can't be measured," says the former Cadbury marketing executive.

Bradley says 20 years ago, the consumer was a passive recipient of marketing. However, trends such as web-based marketing have contributed to consumers' sense of self-determination and typical purchasers now focus on price, value and service.
  • A recent study by a recruiting firm found that more top executives have come out of marketing than any other area.
  • More and more women and non-profit organizations are entering the field.
  • Typical positions include: copywriter, market researcher, art director, media buyer and account executives, and includes specialized areas such as brand management, marketing logistics, industrial marketing, public relations, product planning and sales and retail management.
  • HRDC Labour Market studies indicate entry-level salary ranges in Ontario range from about $16-23 hourly. Top wage earners average $61,000 compared to $40,000 median average for all other occupations.

  • Ratcliffe suggests that creative departments in advertising are challenged by ROI because they feel it gets in the way of creative freedom. However, more and more advertising agencies are dropping "value-added" services while trying to meet client needs at cost.

    Relationship marketing

    Instead, many agencies are now turning their attention towards relationship marketing, "which may be more consuming, but fruitful, by picking the right people with the right mind set, with whom products and services resonate," Bradley says.

    Ratcliffe notes that along with web-based marketing, the role of research has become more prominent as well. "Marketing research is less of a cottage industry now," he says. "We are the ones who are developing the answers and now are full players at the table."

    He adds that media tracking and sales are also key growth areas in a sprawling industry that cuts across multiple sectors and accounts for approximately 30% of all Canadian jobs.

    It is estimated marketing employs approximately 65,000 people in Ontario alone with the lion's share of jobs found in the wholesale trades, manufacturing and business service sectors. Forecasts for employment are extremely positive with growth driven primarily by strong consumer spending, an exploding e-commerce scene and a healthy international market.

    Ratcliffe notes that shifts in the marketing industry make it an exciting time to enter the profession. "We have access to some of the best tools and thinking in the world. In Toronto, we can do world-stage things. People considering this as a profession have an opportunity to challenge everything that they hear. Marketing is 90% common sense; the trouble with that is that it's not very common."

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