When it comes to creating strategies that will increase your customer base and ROI, finding individuals with a background in the Humanities such as Philosophy and History is one of the best choices you can make as a business owner. These majors shape individuals into professionals equipped with the necessary critical thinking, researching and communication skills to transform your marketing plan into a cohesive strategy that enhances your user’s experiences and the company’s bottom line.
Many people assume professional Marketers followed a few specific degree paths in order to begin their career with a marketing firm. A few that come to my mind immediately are Marketing, Journalism, Graphic Design - something based in either communication or visual arts.
I work extensively with colleagues educated in these fields. As for myself, I followed a degree path focusing on what I grew up loving and found my major thanks in part to general education requirements.
Here’s the deal: I didn’t get here on the conventional route and I believe that actually makes me better at my job than if I had gone down the traditional path.
What I mean is that I have a background in Philosophy and History, not Marketing. And to be honest, I wouldn’t trade my background for a Marketing degree at all. Contrary to many people’s initial beliefs, it made me an extremely qualified candidate for all the marketing positions I’ve applied for and shaped me into a real asset for my team and my clients.
After applying to my Alma Mater, the excitement of being accepted, packing up everything I owned into the back of my truck and moving into my first home away from home, I was lost. Not literally - they gave me a campus map on the first day. Like many Freshmen entering college, I had no clue what I wanted to do as a career.
I recall being told, “Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Well, I grew up in a family fascinated by history, so naturally, I signed up for one or two to fill in my course load. Thanks to general education courses, I also landed in Intro to Philosophy. My world was forever changed.
I became enamored with Philosophy. I was met with challenging concepts that most people take for granted every day. Philosophy taught me how to know something exists, if life has a reason, whether God could truly be omni-benevolent and omnipotent. I couldn’t get enough of it and started signing up for more classes.
By my sophomore year, I was already halfway to graduating with a major in Philosophy and a minor in History. As you can imagine, my parents were oh so pleased.
After telling people what I had decided to major in, I was met with lots of trepidation and criticism. I can’t even begin to count how many times I was asked, “You’re degree is in that? What are you going to do with your life? Teach?”.
For one thing, we hate that question. Please stop asking that when you’re talking with someone who has chosen that as their major. That question makes us mad because it truly is a flawed perspective on the value of a degree in humanities. Why? Because it’s ignoring a fundamental part of what makes any degree valuable; the skills you acquire as part of that degree. That’s right. It’s all about the skills. Most of them teach the same skills, just with different content.
My response was always the same: “I’m going to do whatever I want with it. Taking over the world sounds nice. Watch me”.
Once I realized the true value in the skills I was learning thanks to my degree path, I discovered I truly could take over the world. I shook off the haters, committed myself to my decision and transformed it into one of the best choices I ever made for my future career (and finally convinced my parents my decision was worth that very expensive piece of paper - thanks Mom and Dad!).
You see, the skills my Philosophy and History professors were teaching me are the skills any Marketing Analyst needs to be successful. I landed on Marketing because it is a career steeped in human behavior - the reason I initially fell in love with Philosophy and History. I took what I had learned in my degree and quickly adapted them to the marketing industry and built my career in strategy, effectively ending up where I am today — working with an agency that I love and truly helping clients meet their growth goals.
Let me break it down for you a little and highlight what your business should really be looking for when selecting the team to handle your marketing strategy.
Philosophy and History majors spend the majority of their time in college conducting research.
Being resourceful, finding research and data to back up your claims, and organizing it all cohesively is a major part of the degrees’ job descriptions. Philosophy and History majors excel at the ability to sift through mountains of data, make sense of it all and present it in a succinct manner.
Research is a fundamental step in building a marketing strategy - without it, you have no reasoning behind your content. Without research, you are simply building what you want rather than understanding what your clients want and need from you. You need market research conducted on consumer behavior to start outlining where your targets are and how to reach them. But most importantly, you need that person pulling research to pay attention to the details without losing sight of the bigger picture.
I apply my research methodology to everything I do in my job which means I’m able to deliver in-depth information that guides our strategy. If you have someone on your team that is able to solve problems with research, you have someone that is providing value. Plain and simple.
After conducting and compiling research, we are trained in reading and understanding complex materials.
Being able to analyze data by finding patterns and significance is key in understanding why users reacted in one way or another. This is a key part of strategic marketing. It’s not enough to know that your campaign was working on increasing your conversation rates on your website. You need to know why it was working, what that means, and how to apply that to future campaigns to further your success.
We are also able to look at things from different perspectives. The ability to step out of your own shoes and into the head of the consumers you’re trying to reach and influence is critical to developing a growth strategy that gets positive results.
Here at Sauce Marketing, I use these skills to help develop buyer personas, outline a customer’s journey, and pinpoint opportunities to target certain personas at different stages to convert them into loyal customers for our clients. I am able to help our clients identify and match the right content and media outlet to have the biggest impact on their marketing campaign. Of course, I’m not limited to only this application of these skills, but you’re starting to get the point.
Another extremely valuable skill inherent in any humanities degree is the ability to explain concepts clearly in verbal or written form. Someone can be trained in the above skills and be able to draw the right conclusions, but if they cannot communicate them effectively, then it kind of ruins the point, right?
Philosophy and history majors are experts in the art of communication. Using logical arguments, precise and concise language, while anticipating counterpoints are what we spent multiple years of our lives doing.
In a marketing setting, we apply this training in multiple ways. Whether it’s being able to communicate with a client why the strategy we’re presenting is the best for them or creating consumer-facing content that will resonate with those customer’s beliefs and behaviors.
There are many more skills involved with a Philosophy or History degree, and the application of these skills are endless. It’s not about the content— it's about the skills!
What does all of this mean? If you’re a business that's looking to hire a marketing agency, look at the skills the agency is bringing to the table. What are their backgrounds? Did they go about their careers the traditional way? Or do you have some real out of the box thinkers that have been able to adapt skills to the industry?
It’s those out of the box thinkers that you want on your side. Start looking at the true value of who you’re hiring. You could be overlooking someone like me who can see the connections, approach it as an interdisciplinary skill set, and utilize those abilities to provide real value for their clients.