Is Marketing Useful for Engineers?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I was thinking of taking a marketing as a technical elective (just for fun since it seems interesting)...but is market useful for engineers? Anyone actually have to use marketing skills in their jobs/careers?
 

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  • #2
berkeman
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I was thinking of taking a marketing as a technical elective (just for fun since it seems interesting)...but is market useful for engineers? Anyone actually have to use marketing skills in their jobs/careers?
At least in my job (R&D engineer at a Silicon Valley company), I interact with Marketing quite a bit. We work together to define products (a balancing act between what the market wants, and what is technically feasible and reasonably practical), and to deal with customer issues, complaints, and wish-lists.

I think a single elective class in Marketing might be pretty interesting, and potentially useful if you end up in a similar position to mine. Definitely some of the Marketing-centric ideas are counter-intuitive to a technically-minded engineer or physicist. Marketing sometimes tends to be a lot about flash, or appearance, and us techies tend to think in much more concrete terms. Still, we can do good work together, and the end product is better for our cooperation.
 
  • #3
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I would personally spend my technical elective on something more geared towards engineering, but if you want to be on the business/management side of engineering it might be worth taking. Just keep in mind that marketing is the most powerful form of evil known to mankind, so tread lightly.
 
  • #4
berkeman
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Just keep in mind that marketing is the most powerful form of evil known to mankind, so tread lightly.
:rofl:
 
  • #5
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Yes, I'd focus on marketing - you'll make more money even if you don't know what your doing.
 
  • #6
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A good engineer is well rounded.
 
  • #7
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I wish I had some more marketing experience based on where I am now. I might not have been interested in marketing when I was in school but currently I am an application engineer with some commercial responsibilities. Also, my company employs many sales engineers and marketing engineers that must relate to the customers and study the markets we're in. A class like that couldn't hurt if you can fit it in your schedule.
 
  • #8
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I took marketing as an elective, but hated it. Technical challenges are what excite me about engineering, not messing about with trying to sell/promote the product. Marketing also builds vital communication skills for the real world, learnign how to deal with suppliers and customers etc.

As Cyrus said engineers need to be well rounded. In the real world you don't need to know everything, but you really do need to know of everything (which is imopssible in the long run but a good goal to strive for). Getting an insight into commerical aspect will make you a more rounded engineer.
 
  • #9
Astronuc
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If one is a consultant or an independent (on one's own), marketing oneself or one's services is a necessity. However, one doesn't necessarily need a class or course. A lot of marketing is just common sense.

One should understand and appreciate customer relations, of which a key element is to listen to the customer rather than blathering, promoting, or preaching. Of course, once a rapport is established, then small talk is part of the interaction.

I learned marketing by doing and following the example of a company VPres/Pres, who made it a point to talk to clients and potential clients on a regular basis. With that approach, we'd keep up with the 'market' and be aware of potential projects.

Another part of marketing is being able to ask the right questions when presented with a technical problem, and that is where experience comes in.
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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A good engineer is well rounded.
While I agree with the general comment, I think engineers should be well-rounded in useful ways. Marketing is not something a typical engineer will need for a decade after they leave school, which is too long for it to be useful. If the goal of the OP is a liberal arts elective that is useful to an engineer, I can think of many others that would be more imediately useful: economics, writing, ethics, leadership/managment, etc.

I'm wondering why marketing counts as a "technical elective". For my degree, a "technical elective had to be science/engineering related.
 
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  • #11
berkeman
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Marketing is not something a typical engineer will need for a decade after they leave school, which is too long for it to be useful.
Upon further review, that is an excellent comment by Russ. The timing of your need to potentially interact with or use Marketing skills is generally well after you finish school and start working. And as Astro points out, you can generally learn those skills on the job.

So I'm changing my answer. I agree that a different elective will probably serve you better coming out of school, and in the first few years of your work experience.
 

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