Strategy, integration key to DM education

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This week's Expert Advice column on page 29 of our Jan. 21 print issue raises the question of whether college education matters when making hiring decisions. Our expert submits that experience trumps everything — but undergraduate candidates with analytically and/or mathematically focused degrees have strong appeal.

Where education can trump experience, some argue is in the post-graduate arena. Returning to school to hone skills first gathered on the job — especially financial ones that allow marketers to bring a new level of accountability to their DM efforts — is, by many accounts, a fast way to the fast track.

To this end, program directors are working hard to ensure that they are staying relevant and best serving the industry into which these graduates will re-enter. New York University is one such school, and will this week change the name of its MS in direct and interactive marketing to integrated marketing. Dr. Marjorie Kalter, who heads up the program, argues that this is not just a semantic issue; the specialty in interactive marketing isn't necessarily something companies have a long-term need for. Rather, there is a need for integrated marketers, who understand the best practices of DM and how to apply them to interactive as well as any other future technologies. The bottom line, she says, is that customers don't want to think in terms of channels; they want an integrated experience, and what DM can bring to that is the level of accountability other marketing disciplines do not.

And here lies a key argument in the battle to win talent that so many are fighting. If employers make it known that strategic thinking will be welcomed, and that the increasingly multichannel environment in which they operate is best served by a combination of creativity, strategy, and analytical skills, then DM starts to look an awful lot more appealing than some of our competitors for talent in other marketing disciplines.

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