May 1, 2004
Q: I am close to completing my M.B.A. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism/advertising. My problem is that I am somewhat clueless as to how to get where I want to be. I would love to work in urban marketing, but I do not know how to go about finding a firm or company that has an urban marketing department. I have one and a half years of work experience in the advertising industry.
Can you help point me in the right direction?
— C. Annorh, Atlanta
A: You could begin your career in a number of different industries, but you’re strongest point of entry would be advertising — that’s your area of study and where you’ve had experience. Your problem is not going to be finding a company, it’s zeroing in on an industry and an area of concentration: sales, market research, brand management. Urban marketing has become a popular term, mostly associated with the hip-hop community — the hottest drivers of consumerism. Even some of the most conservative brands have formed alliances with hip-hop artists to extend their reach. It’s fun, sexy work — if you can get it. But don’t focus on the title; concentrate on the mechanics, because the term is also evolving. As traditional urban centers are gentrifying, urban is broadening to include “hip” whites and young black professionals. The bottom line, however, is that it’s still marketing, which is the science of connecting a product or idea with the desired consumer. It’s a creative process that’s backed by numbers: cost analysis, demographic shifts, and statistics.