Last Updated: November 16, 2020

Consumers are influenced by every message, jingle, logo, billboards, and celebrity spokesperson associated with a corporation. Even when consumers aren’t paying attention, the message remains in their field of consciousness or peripheral vision.

Corporate marketing departments manage the messages and outward appearances of their organizations—from mission statements to advertising implementation. For instance, Apple set out to become a visionary and revolutionary company from the beginning, and set its sights on changing the world. This vision was reflected in its very first marketing campaign: the “1984” commercial which aired during the Super Bowl, during which a female athlete saves the world from Big Brother (a play on George Orwell’s classic novel 1984)—all in the space of 58 seconds. Apple envisioned technology that was artful and intuitive, and its corporate marketing team helped the rest of the world to clearly see that vision.

What is corporate marketing?

Corporate marketing is the means by which a corporation or organization attracts potential customers. A corporate marketing team is responsible for determining how to reach the company’s desired customers, and determining what kinds of advertising and messaging tactics will appeal to them.

Marketing campaigns that fall flat often have disastrous effects on a company’s bottom line. Think back to the introduction of New Coke to celebrate original Coca Cola’s 100 years of success. Customers preferred the old Coke formula, and as a result the company took a substantial hit. No amount of marketing dollars could save a bad idea—and a lot of them were spent trying.

Successful campaigns, however, have enormous impacts that cause a brand to remain in the cultural consciousness for decades. The Pepsi Challenge campaign, started in 1975, has been so successful that many companies have since employed the “blind taste test” in their own marketing campaigns.

While these are highly visible examples of corporate marketing, many forms of corporate marketing are more subtle. Corporate newsletters, email campaigns, sales, coupons, contests, advertisements, magazine inserts, online advertising, social media, radio spots, and direct mail campaigns all play parts in a corporate marketing campaign(See also Traditional Marketing). And likewise, corporate marketers may specialize in a variety of areas, including graphic design, website design, branding, social media, copywriting, research, and corporate communication.

Who implements corporate marketing?

Obviously, corporations use corporate marketing. However, every business, club, political organization, non-profit, and even religious organization uses some form of corporate marketing strategy.

Top Corporate Campaigns of 2011

  1. Cramer and Seimens, “Who Inspires You?” contest
  2. ICC and Johnson’s Baby Brands, “We Still Mean Every Word” campaign
  3. FingerPaint Marketing and Alimera Sciences, Alimera Corporate campaign
  4. LehmanMillet and Abbott Medical Optics, “Global Surgical Sales Force” video
  5. LehmanMillet and Zimmer Dental, IM Zimmer Global Integrated Marketing campaign

Source: MM&M Corporate Marketing Awards 2011

  • A diaper company serves a population that moves in and out of the baby phase, so it targets that demographic. However, it will also want to maintain a good reputation with people who don’t currently have babies. Grandma might buy diapers for a beloved grandchild; a friend might bring a diaper cake to a baby shower; or a college kid eventually grows into childbearing years.
  • A non-profit or charitable organization will use corporate marketing practices to inform the community about its services. It will want to persuade people to make contributions and to educate the community about the need for its services by advertising in strategic places. A non-profit marketing campaign might also appeal to government officials and corporations in order to obtain favorable legislation, allocated funds, and grants.
  • A political organization will use corporate marketing practices to get its message out to potential voters. It will run advertisements or put up a billboard which differentiates itself from the opposing political position or candidate. A marketing campaign may propose new ideas about how to resolve problems and issues, and use mass emailing to inform voters. Political groups will use corporate marketing practices to fundraise and to build up its candidates’ reputations, or to gain (or diminish) public support of laws and referendums currently on the table.
  • A religious organization will use corporate marketing practices to invite people to attend its services. The Jehovah’s Witnesses publish a free magazine, which they hand-deliver door-to-door to convert new members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints launched its “I’m a Mormon” campaign to enhance the reputation of its membership. Other churches may want to advertise services they offer to the broader community (support groups, singles groups, food-bank missions). They may use a Facebook page or other social media to spread the word.

Nearly every successful organization, and certainly every corporation, has an identity it intends to express to the world—and specifically to the demographics it serves. A corporate marketer knows how to find those people—and then reach them.

For what kinds of customers is corporate marketing effective?

Everyone is susceptible to corporate marketing, to some degree. People might think they’re ignoring online ads, but they’ll take at least one glance at a link ad above their inbox because a keyword intentionally correlates to a message in their inbox.

Corporate marketing infiltrates nearly every aspect of people’s lives, whether they’re conscious of it or not. People tend to notice a billboard that they drive past every day on their way to work, if only because it’s a distraction from traffic. A direct-mail piece asking constituents to vote for a particular candidate will be noted, and a perception about the candidate’s face, posture, clothing, combined with the wording on the postcard, will be developed before it’s tossed into the recycling bin(See also Direct Mail Marketing.)

How is a corporate marketing campaign developed?

The first step in developing corporate marketing campaign is defining the objectives. Who does the company want to reach, and what kinds of messages appeal to this target audience? Is the goal to generate more traffic to a website to drive online sales? Is it to make consumers aware of an upcoming sponsorship in the Olympic Games?

Six Faces of Corporate Marketing

  • Organizational Identity
  • Corporate Identity
  • Corporate Branding
  • Corporate Image
  • Corporate Communication
  • Corporate Reputation

The answers to these questions hinge on who the company’s actual customers are. Some of this information can be obtained by tracking previous sales, noting who bought certain products and in which outlets it sold best. Other research includes the “club” programs many stores and retailers use—for that 10 cents off a bag of chips, you’ve actually informed many corporations about your buying habits. Demographic data is also collected on the Internet—profiles on Facebook enables advertisers to offer products to consumers based on specific demographics such as gender, age, marital status, geography, and religious preference.

Additionally, corporations often employ outside data services, such as Nielsen Media Research. Although Nielsen is best known for tracking which programs people are watching on television, they also track such data as how often moms bought chicken breasts, as compared to how many dads bought hamburger patties.

Once they’ve identified an objective and who they want to reach, it’s time to brainstorm and think creatively. The corporate marketing department might gather and throw out all their ideas, great or small, outlandish or conservative, for consideration; usually one or two ideas will stand out as more appealing and doable than the others. Ideas that meet the objectives, target the appropriate market, generate excitement, and meet budget guidelines are then implemented by the corporate marketing team.

Budget considerations are important. It’s great to have the ability to think up an innovative and compelling commercial—but if a company only has enough money for a direct email campaign, the budget must be respected. Thus, a large part of corporate marketing is “internal marketing”—convincing the corporate hierarchy to sign on to new ideas and devote an adequate budget to them(See also Internal Marketing).

What career titles are in corporate marketing departments?

In a small business, corporate marketers may wear many hats. They may be responsible for copywriting, graphic design, press releases, and social media. However, in a large corporation team members will have a specialization, allowing each of them to focus on one aspect of the job.

Marketing Communications Managers

Marketing Communications Managers are responsible for communicating the company message to the media, investors, and the public.

What do they do?

What salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Communications Manager
    Median annual pay: $84,319
    Top earners: $110,000+
  • Market Research Analyst
    Median annual pay: $60,570
    Top earners: $111,440+
  • Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
    Top earners: $187,199+

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

  • oversee the corporation’s marketing efforts through all forms of communication, ensuring a consistent, focused tone and message
  • write or oversee the writing of blogs, social media, website content, newsletters, and investor reports
  • write press releases to highlight new product launches, an upcoming event, point out charitable giving, or tout the company’s success in the media
  • negotiate any negative press or consumer dissatisfaction with appropriate and timely responses, highlighting the company’s position in a positive way
Education and Skills

Many marketing communications managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, or in related fields such as business, public relations, advertising, and communications. Some marketing communications managers have master’s degrees; others will establish their credentials through work experience, having paid their dues. Whatever the route, prospective marketing managers will want to acquire a background in research, copywriting, corporate communications, and/or graphic design; and gradually take on more responsibilities, including the experience of managing others.

Market Research Analysts

Market Research Analysts interpret data to assess corporate marketing strategy effectiveness. Using data from a variety of sources including purchasing history, data aggregate services, historical trends within the company, and broader market indicators, market research analysts make educated predictions for campaign strategy.

What do they do?
  • decide which research tools will be most useful—grocery-store purchasing clubs, coupons, online-data collection, sample product testing results, customer surveys, and data-acquisition services such as Nielsen, and use them to track customer data
  • employ statistical methods and software to make informed predictions about how a product or service will sell, in order to ensure that there is adequate (but not too much) supply for the expected demand
  • conduct customer surveys, product sample testing, and pre-releases in certain markets to determine whether, and how, marketing should be adjusted to improve sales
Education and Skills

A bachelor’s degree in market research, business, statistics or related field is usually required in order to become a marketing analyst. Many market research analysts hold a master’s degree and have held other leadership positions requiring technical research. Other career tracks exist as well; for example, experience in other marketing roles can also open doors to a marketing research position.

Marketing Managers

Marketing Managers lead other marketing professionals in the creative conception of projects and project implementation. They perform administrative and management tasks to ensure projects are completed on time and on budget.

What do they do?
  • day-to-day management of marketing staff including designers, writers, and researchers; and regular monitoring of workload and performance
  • oversee the conception of new marketing strategies, including leading team meetings, creating an environment open to creative expression, and eliciting the best ideas from the corporate marketing team
  • identify ways to tap into the target market, including keeping informed of innovative new marketing strategies, new social media, new media, and other new advertising opportunities
  • oversee contracts with vendors and advertising outlets, and negotiate contracts
Education and Skills

Marketing managers will have a bachelor’s degree in marketing or another related field; many marketing managers also hold master’s degrees. It’s likely that managers will have begun their careers in one area of a corporate marketing department such as research, graphic design, or copywriting; from there, they can work their way up through one corporation, or realign with an opportunity to advance their careers with another corporation.

How can a marketing school help you in this field?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Corporate marketers must be able to communicate to many different audiences, and through diverse mediums. A marketing program will help students learn to effectively communicate in a variety of situations, and through a variety of media channels. Marketing school also informs students about methods of data collection and analysis, as well as how to use that data to direct marketing campaigns.

Marketing students will also receive opportunities to practice real-world marketing campaigns. Students conceive and implement creative ideas, test their ability to turn ideas into results, and monitor campaign effectiveness. A quick and effective way to gain experience while still earning your marketing degree is to accept an internship. Students earn college credit while working part time in a corporate marketing department. In addition, the odds of being paid improve as your education increases; most post-bachelor’s internships are paid, while the majority of undergraduate internships are not.

A degree in corporate marketing opens doors to many different positions, including product development, branding, corporate communications, public relations, advertising and project management (See also Careers in Marketing). A degree in marketing will also enable you to become a better entrepreneur, should you decide to open your own business.

Investigate a variety of marketing programs to determine which school will help you most effectively achieve your goals as a marketing professional.