Marketing Skills Students Should Know

Design thinking: Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, implement... Understand, explore, materialize.

By: Alyssa Herbert

Whether you are a current marketing student looking what classes to take, currently searching for a job, or will be in the near future, now is the best time to learn how to win over a hiring team. It’s intimidating to start applying for jobs and to see all the skills that are needed and the initial thought always being, am I qualified? You might never feel ready to apply for jobs but now is the chance to gain confidence.  

There are some in demand marketing skills that businesses are looking for that could set you apart from other candidates. Western’s Marketing Program offers relevant classes that will teach you the most demanding marketing skills. Here are some important marketing skills for students to know before entering the job force and what classes you can learn about them in.

Agile Thinking

This type of learning process is not taught regularly at college but Western’s Marketing Program offers a class that is completely agile-based called Integrated Marketing Communications. Agile thinking is not new it’s been a scientific process that has been around for a long time, however, it’s becoming more widely used across different marketing firms. Agile is being able to react and correct change.

All team members must operate together. Agile thinking requires team members check in everyday to make sure everyone is on the same page. Using sticky notes for project planning is part of this process, it helps visually see things as they come together and move across the Kanban board as things change. In this class offered through Western’s Marketing Program, you’ll get firsthand experience doing an agile thinking project for a live client.

Agile Methodology: Plan, design, develop test, deploy cycles


Design Thinking

Design thinking according to IBM, it’s a “problem solving approach aimed to improve the lived experiences of people.” It’s a process that includes everyone working together to make sure the needs of the users are being met. This changes the way normal businesses operate by making sure everyone is included in the process instead of having one person talking at the front of a meeting.

Western’s Marketing Program offers a class called Digital Marketing that requires you to write blog posts about digital marketing topics. One of these blog posts includes design thinking and one of the requirements is to take an online course offered through IBM that teaches you about design thinking. It rewards you a badges every time you complete a course that you can show to an employer and set you apart from other students.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO: On page, website and competitive analysis, optimize page for main keywords, build back links, content optimization, submit site to search engine, off-page promotion and SEO reporting, analyzing ranking and traffic.


SEO is another topic covered within WWU’s digital marketing class. According to Moz, SEO is “the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand through non-paid search engine results.” This is one of the most important tools for digital marketers to use. Companies want to be at the top of a web browser when someone searches anything remotely close to their products and services. According to WebFx, users will see your sight as being credible if it’s at the top since they trust search engines. Also, the higher you rank the more traffic and clicks you will receive and SEO can help user experience.

Paid Media

Paid advertising, with arrows out to various large tech companies


According to Hubspot, “paid media can be an effective opportunity to expand your brand reach, get more clicks, and generate more traffic.” It’s becoming more important because it’s a way to reach audiences that you might not normally would have come across. Being able to do Google Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads will set you apart from other students who might not be certified in these tools. It does not matter what channel you use, it’s important that the person who is running the paid media knows what questions to ask, how to create and run a campaign, collaborate with designers, other team members and being able to track key performance indicators. Both of the Western’s Marketing Program’s electives Digital Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications talk about the importance of paid media and how to efficiently run a paid media plan.

Content Marketing

The Content Marketing Cycle: Research & Insight, Goal Setting, Content Strategy, Content Creation, Content Curation, Distribution, Engagement


According to Content Marketing institute, content marketing is a “strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” Content marketing lets you better explain the benefits of your product or service. It lets you differentiate yourself through building trusting relationship with your consumers. This type of marketing is learned through a couple different classes at Western. These include the Integrated Marketing Communications which makes you create content for a live client and Digital Marketing. Both of these classes teach you about content marketing.

Consumer Behavior

This is one of the most fascinating topics and has been an important topic taught through Western’s Marketing Program for more than 30 years. Customers are now, more than ever, researching on their phones anywhere they go, at any time and can easily adopt emerging technology. Customers have changed the buyer’s journey and are more willing to share information about products in their own ways. It’s important that marketers are able to think like a consumer and be able to easily understand their needs and actions. There is a class called Consumer Behavior, which is a required class in the marketing major at Western. This class is paired with another one called Marketing Research and these two classes are a cohort that typically finish the program together. The classes offer a live client component to learn how to understand consumers through research in a real-world marketing situation. In the picture below, demonstrates the steps of the consumer research process when making a purchasing decision and something you’ll learn about in these two classes.

Flow chart: Needs Awareness, Information Search, Evaluating Alternatives, Purchase Decision, Post Purchase

Social Media

Social media logos floating above a chart trending upwards


Social media is one of the most relevant digital marketing topics and it’s being used by companies in many different ways. It’s important that brands reach their target audience through relevant channels and these can include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. There are multiple jobs that include working with social media, running social media accounts or analyzing data from social media accounts. Being able to understand how it works and how to utilize it through both paid and owned media will make you an ideal candidate. There are three marketing electives offered at Western that teach you about social media, these include Social Media, Digital Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications.

Wrap Up

These are just some of the skills that marketers should know, whether you are entering the job force or looking for a new job, these skills can set you apart from other candidates. Western’s Marketing Program offers a variety of classes that will teach you skills you want to learn. You might not be able to take all the marketing electives, but it’s important that you take the ones that you see yourself wanting to do as a future marketer. As well as talk with faculty advisor to discuss interests and how it’ll map to jobs. Research the classes and the topics before you decide which ones to take and you’ll be well above everyone else when applying to jobs.