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DCE Magazine

Marketing in the Digital Age

Adopt a digital marketer mindset to create brand success

Fall 2021

While a slew of new apps, platforms and personal devices continue to transform the communication landscape, some marketing principles remain timeless, as true now as when print media ruled, and broadcast TV offered just a handful of channels to choose from.

Reaching the widest possible audience with a strong, finely crafted message has forever been the gold standard — and digital technology makes it easier than ever. Anyone can send a tweet or go viral on Instagram. The difference, and the challenge, is that today’s digital jungle is so fragmented, and cluttered.

Cutting through the noise is more difficult than ever, and to succeed it pays to look way back to the 1960s, said Gary Szenderski, author, speaker, and instructor in the Digital Marketing & Communications certificate program.

“In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan, considered the Father of Communications and Media Studies, famously wrote: ‘The Medium is the Message,’” he said. “He suggested that the medium becomes a symbiotic partner to the content and that this influence changes the perspective and outlook of the receiver to the message, thus changing the message.”

Fast-forward to the turn of the century when a new world of digital platforms like Google and AOL began to emerge. Soon after came social media hubs Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, right about the time print and TV began to decline dramatically. The communications landscape would never be the same.

“New apps and viral explosions have put everyone online nearly simultaneously,” Szenderski said. “That landscape is cluttered and segmented into countless interactions for a wide range of target market segments and users, transforming the marketing communications landscape forever.”

This is creating choices for marketers and advertisers like never before, “and if McLuhan’s assertion holds true, and I believe it does, the nature of all communications, not just marketing communications, will continue to evolve and change for the foreseeable future.”

The overarching challenge today is simply breaking through the noise and grabbing people’s attention long enough to deliver a brand’s Master Message.

“The numbers are huge in terms of audience reach, but the audience isn’t paying attention as much, and the days when everyone watches the same TV show at the same time are increasingly rare,” Szenderski said. “Additionally, there are issues with hackers, personal security, fake news and the like that we must be mindful of and be prepared to work around if we want to be successful.”

There are as many challenges as there are opportunities for anyone aspiring to enter this exciting field — and this program offers the tools to succeed in the fragmented landscape, now and for the future.

“It’s a blended world of art and science for communications experts. And regardless of the quantity of media, the quality of the message is what really makes the difference.” Gary Szenderski, Instructor
Digital Marketing & Communications Certificate Program

Mastering the message

The Digital Marketing & Communications program provides a strong background in all aspects of the marketing, communications, and product management fields, providing tools to deliver effective messaging across the entire digital landscape. Students are exposed to the latest trends and best practices for advertisers and marketers as they develop targeted programs for a range of brands. The program consists of three required and one elective course and can be completed in about six months.

Intended for current as well as aspiring marketing communication professionals, the program addresses the research, writing, design and analytics skillsets necessary for success in the wide-ranging sector. Emerging tech such as artificial intelligence and augmented/ virtual reality is touched upon, as well.

“Every student knows all about social media and how to use it — it’s native for most. What they learn in the DCE program is how to get the results they seek, to actually move the needle,” Szenderski said. “This is more complex than simply posting messages or sending emails. It’s both a science and an art, and I believe our program is second to none.”

Szenderski’s course, Integrated Marketing Communications, is focused on developing a strong Master Message for a company’s brand that maintains consistency across all platforms, adapted to each target audience based on the media selection. The curriculum addresses the challenges as well as strategies for developing content that supports a strong messaging plan.

“To craft a Master Message means we first have to do our homework,” he said. “This means not only understanding our brand, but also identifying how our brand is differentiated from all others. Its power comes from understanding the market, the timing, and the relevance of your brand story against the massively cluttered backdrop of today’s digital world … to be mindful and focused on the fact that message and delivery of that message must be aligned.”

It’s a highly competitive field but packed with opportunity for candidates with the proper training. The most recent surveys show more than 660,000 job openings in the U.S. as of 2019, with a higher-than-average 22% growth projected through 2029. Median annual salary ranges from $63,000 to $121,000 for highly experienced candidates.

The digital future

Marketing communications is constantly evolving, always adapting to new technologies, increasing the need for continuing education. What’s new and leading-edge today might well seem quaint and anachronistic five years from now.

Similar to the way the “dot-com” bubble burst in spectacular fashion at the dawn of this century, the over-saturation of choice and options will surely shake out at some point, Szenderski said.

“We’ve already witnessed how playing in the digital arena can be both risky and rewarding. The metrics we use to track success are more sophisticated than ever. New tools on the horizon built by AI can track us, find us, and place ideas in front of us faster and more easily than ever.”

That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay aware of the latest tools and strategies available to marketers, and at the same time stay true to our authentic brand roots and timeless storytelling history, he said.

“It’s a blended world of art and science for communications experts. And regardless of the quantity of media, the quality of the message is what really makes the difference.”

Learn more about the Digital Marketing & Communications Certificate Program.