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The Best Business Schools for Marketing

Also Tops in Marketing: Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business

Leaving Los Angeles behind, the next stop in our MBA marketing programs all-star tour is Bloomington, Indiana, home to Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Kelley sends more of its graduates into marketing than any other function. For the Class of 2018, 32 percent went into marketing and sales, compared to the 20 percent who headed into finance and the 24 percent who headed into consulting.

Percent of Hires in Marketing Function, Indiana Kelley 2018 Employment Report

These statistics aren’t surprising when you take a closer look at the school. Kelley has developed a solid infrastructure for students interested in marketing. At Kelley, first-year MBA students choose an “academy,” which provides additional access to specific activities, consulting projects, career coaches, company treks and mentorship opportunities related to their chosen field. Students interested in marketing can choose from several relevant academies, including the Business Marketing Academy and the Consumer Marketing Academy. Beyond being part of these academies, Kelley students can also major in marketing, which involves completing required courses in marketing performance and productivity analysis as well as marketing strategy and strategy simulation. Once these are completed, there are 18 electives from which to choose, ranging from courses like “Managing Advertising and Sales Promotion” and “Brand Asset Management” to courses on digital marketing, global marketing and “Special Topics in Marketing,” which delves into functional theories related to social media including network theory, game theory and collective intelligence social media.

Another course unique to Kelley is called “Bloomington Brands (B2).” B2 is actually the brand management team for Osmocote® Plant Food, a best-selling brand for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. But get this: It’s composed entirely of Kelley MBA students. Interested students interview for positions in their first year and work on the brand for two semesters. While Scotts owns the trademark and provides essential business functions, Kelley students do all of the marketing—from brand strategy to consumer communications, from pricing to promotions to packaging. The real-world on-the-job training Kelley students obtain through B2 has helped propel many marketing careers. “B2’s brand managers have landed high-profile positions with Scotts, Colgate, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Kraft, Nationwide, General Mills and Kellogg,” the school reports.

Kelley School

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

The marketing faculty at Kelley, meanwhile, includes 39 professors, assistant professors and lecturers who bringing a wide range of expertise to their students. Associate Professor of Marketing Lopo Rego, who teaches the core course in marketing that all Kelley students complete, is most focused on topics like the interface between marketing and finance, customer satisfaction and brand equity. Professor Ray Burke, meanwhile, brings expertise in marketing research, shopper behavior, retailing and data mining. And then there’s Senior Lecturer Ann Bastianelli, whose research interests include advertising and brand strategy, consumer insights and behavior, marketing communications management, and maximizing personal performance.

Marketing Beyond the Classroom at Kelley
The Kelley Marketing Club (KMC) is the largest student club at the business school. Beyond a traditional array of offerings designed to help provide marketing students with access to recruiters and to prepare those students for interviews, the KMC also puts on a range of unique activities throughout the year, including a Battle of the Brands, a Super Bowl Ad Analysis and a “Marketing for Good” Speaker & Workshop.

Kelley is also home to the Center for Brand Leadership, which nurtures partnerships with leading corporations and publishes path-breaking brand management research. Its current corporate sponsors include Nestlé USA, E&J Gallo Winery, Target, Scotts, ConAgra, Whirlpool, Hertz, General Mills, and Bloomington Brands. Clinical Professor of Marketing Jonlee Andrews, who directs Kelley’s Consumer Marketing Academy, also serves on the center’s faculty.

In terms of helping Kelley graduates secure post-MBA marketing roles, Graduate Career Services have associate directors focused on each consumer marketing and business marketing. The school’s most recent employment report reveals that top hiring firms in 2018 included 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, and Proctor and Gamble. The median base salary for the 32 percent of Kelley students who accepted marketing positions was $108,500.

Michigan for A Marketing MBA? Ross School of Business Says “Yes”

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business also sends a healthy slice of its graduates into marketing roles—22.6 percent according to the school’s 2018 Employment Report. Ross has a long tradition of combining academic learning with hands-on experience, and this is very much true of how it teaches marketing.

All Ross first-year students take “Marketing Management” during the second half of the fall term, which approaches marketing decision-making by focusing first on organizations’ goals and abilities. From there, students learn how organizations set marketing objectives by considering competitors and current and potential customers. When it comes to making decisions about distribution, pricing, products, promotion and services, Ross students analyze the current situation, pinpoint possible challenges and come up with solutions to create or maintain a competitive advantage. Because it’s Ross, after all, students are expected to be hands on—developing cases in their areas of interest and presenting them during in-class case sessions. The end result: Students emerge from this class with the tools they need to analyze marketing programs and make marketing decisions.

Entrepreneurship at the Zell Lurie Institute of Michigan Ross

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Ross Puts Marketing on the MAP
Ross’s signature Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP)—a seven-week requirement of the core curriculum—also has particular value for marketing students. Student teams are paired with companies in the United States and abroad to complete a significant consulting assignment. The teams may work for Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs or nonprofits on projects related to almost any area of business. Students interested in marketing can choose to work with consumer goods and retail companies or to work on a marketing project with a firm in another industry.

Recent MAP challenges have included a team of students developing a strategy to grow brand and product awareness in the U.S. for LegWorks, a company dedicated to providing prosthetic knees to those who cannot afford prosthetic device; another team working in Dearborn, MI with Ford to analyze market trends to help the company consider new and varied business pursuits; and student teams working throughout different regions of Chile to accurately brand and represent the sustainable practices of Salmon Magallanico’s and promote the benefits to consumers.

Ross doesn’t offer formal majors, but students can complete varied courses drawn from the marketing department’s full- and half-term courses. Among them: “Sensory Marketing,” “Nonprofit and Social Marketing,” “New Product Innovation and Management” and “Marketing Research Design and Analysis.”

Faculty Experts at Ross
The more than 30 professors and lecturers that make up the Ross marketing department conduct research on topics such as consumer self-control, pricing and promotion and the strategy of brand building. The chair of the department, Fred Feinberg, is best known for his research in examining and determining how consumers make choices in uncertain environments.  Feinberg seeks to use data and statistical models to examine complex decision patterns. Most recently, he has examined decision making in social contexts, including why people choose another in platforms like online dating websites and apps.  Several Ross faculty members bring experience as former marketing executives to the classroom; other faculty members are actively involved in current marketing practice through their private consulting projects.

Special Programs and Centers Focused on Marketing at Ross 
Ross’s marketing department maintains affiliations with several research centers and initiatives at the University of Michigan, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and the Yaffe Center for Persuasive Communication. Claes Fornell, a Ross professor of business administration, helped found the ACSI, an economic indicator that gauges customer satisfaction with the quality of products and services available to consumers. Its readings are used by more than 400 companies across 46 industries and 10 economic sectors. In addition to measuring quality from the customers’ perspective, the ACSI also assesses the causes and ramifications of customer satisfaction. Academic researchers also utilize the ACSI’s data in studying customer satisfaction dynamics.

Marketing Beyond the Classroom at Ross 
With more than 300 student members, the Michigan Marketing Club is one of the school’s largest organizations. Its main focus is on preparing its members for careers in brand management and for marketing-focused positions in healthcare, technology, consulting and other industries. To this end, the club hosts guest speakers, information sessions, recruiting preparation activities, “Day in the Life” trips to company headquarters and other activities.

One of the Marketing Club’s largest and most anticipated annual events is the Marketing Symposium, featuring panels, breakout sessions, industry speakers and a career fair. The 2018 symposium, entitled “Engage: Reconnect with Customers,” featured Anat Baron, Brand Builder and former Head of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, as one of its keynote speakers. Companies sponsoring the 2018 symposium included General Mills, American Express, MillerCoors, Dell, Conagra, and SC Johnson, among many others.

In addition, the Ross Luxury Goods & Retail Club (LGR) serves students interested in marketing positions within the retail and luxury industries. The club focuses on apparel, non-apparel, mass merchandising, retail consulting, retail manufacturing and luxury retailing, and prepares members for all functions within these sectors. The club’s event list includes alumni networking opportunities, guest speakers, corporate presentations and company visits.

Percent of Hires in Marketing Function, Michigan Ross 2018 Employment Report

Finally, Ross marketing students also benefit from the Marketing Lab, a student-led initiative designed to prepare students for real-world marketing careers by giving them access to important data tools to perform analysis of in-market data. The tools are the Nielsen point-of-sale scanner data and Tracx social media listening analytics tool. The school’s website boasts that Ross is the only business school with access to these tools.

Getting Ross Students into Marketing Roles
Through Ross Career Services (RCS), Ross students have access to individual counseling as well as workshops, formal recruiting opportunities. In addition, the school’s coffee chats and office hours provide a more casual venue for networking with recruiters.

Top firms hiring Ross students for marketing roles are spread across CPG firms, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, tech companies and retail companies. Among them: Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Amazon, Google, Target and PepsiCo.

According to the school’s published employment figures, the median starting salary for the 22.6 percent of the Ross Class of 2018 that went into marketing was $120,000. Of those, 91.8 percent also reported a median signing bonus of $30,000.

As you can see, top MBA programs for marketing can be found in all corners of the United States, from the East Coast to the West and several points in between. Stay tuned for more about UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and UT’s McCombs School of Business, which placed 23.5 percent and 26 percent of its 2018 graduates in marketing roles—a sharp increase from their former 15 percent placements.

The good news for the prospective marketers among you is that your options are many!

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