Greg Roland, a real estate consultant who had been considering a pivot into marketing for some time, knew he needed to find a master’s degree program that could equip him with the leading-edge digital marketing skills that define the field today and help him develop a visionary leadership mindset that could help set him apart in a crowded job market.
He found one at his alma mater. The Online Master’s in Marketing program at William & Mary, which enrolled its first cohort of students in the fall 2020 term, stands a cut above the rest for Greg “because of its exceptional faculty, because of its intentional focus on digital marketing and balancing analytics with creativity, because of its distinction with marketing in an age of disruption, because of the relationships in [its professional] network, and because of professional development.”
Find out how the digital marketing skills instilled in the Online Master’s in Marketing program are perfectly suited for today’s marketing challenges.
What Is an Age of Disruption?
Greg is philosophical about the current moment in time and the obstacles it creates for marketers seeking to identify, reach and persuade an ever-more-elusive audience. “The landscape that we're in right now, in 2020, there has arguably never been a more disruptive environment in which to market,” he reflects. Adults in the U.S. spend an average of just over 12 hours per day engaged with media,1 and the channels, platforms and networks competing for their attention continue to proliferate. The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent reorganization of patterns of leisure, labor and media consumption have further complicated this picture.
In keeping with the growth mindset taught at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, Greg chooses to view this complex environment as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. “The world has truly become smaller,” he notes, “and because of that interconnectedness, the amount of information and the amount of interactions that people are having are creating new insights, new data, new information and new possibilities.”
Digital Marketing Skills With Immediate Impact
Greg has found that a robust toolkit of digital marketing skills is the surest way to navigate our disruptive world and make an impact. “Having a digital focus and having a digital skill set as a marketer is non-negotiable in today's world.”
“Having a digital presence for a company is absolutely vital” in this unprecedented year. “Having an understanding of your digital campaigns in conjunction with your print material campaigns is absolutely vital. As we've seen in 2020, having an online presence is absolutely crucial, especially because for the majority of the year, all that we've had access to is a virtual presence.”
Greg has embraced the first several courses in the Online Master’s in Marketing curriculum “as an opportunity to grow my marketing knowledge, to grow my marketing experience and my digital marketing skills.” He praises the curriculum for its immediate relevance to his day-to-day work, noting “I find that everything that I'm learning is useful for what I'm doing right now and where I hope to be.” He further believes the digital marketing skills he is adding to his personal toolkit will help him stand out to hiring managers further down the road.
“Marketing managers have to take seriously students who are coming out of these marketing programs, such as myself … who have grown up around digital environments, who know about these digital infrastructures.”
Help From an Engaged Marketing Faculty
Greg was first introduced to the Online Master’s in Marketing program through a keynote talk by Program Director Matt Williams at a William & Mary alumni event in February 2020. He was immediately struck by Professor Williams’s energy and enthusiasm as he discussed the Renaissance approach to marketing on which the Online Master’s in Marketing program is built.
“Listening to Professor Matt speak about marketing in a renaissance perspective was so new and so stimulating that I knew I wanted to speak with him,” Greg recalls. “I knew I wanted to develop a relationship with this concept, develop a relationship with this professor and learn more about this program.”
Greg finds that the level of enthusiasm the William & Mary faculty brings to the program greatly enhances the education he is receiving in it. “Having a professor who really believes in what they do, who really loves what they do, and wants to share that enthusiasm and that love with their students, can only help them understand the concepts better.” He finds this energy infectious, and he is inspired daily to apply his invigorating course content in his own professional life.
“That enthusiasm makes me want to explore, what is it about this concept, what is it about this topic, what is it about this piece of the marketing pie that has them so excited, that I can glean and gain for myself?”
Putting it All Together: The Marketing Challenge
Creative vision, enthusiasm for engaging marketing work, and relevant digital marketing skills are tied together in the Online Master’s in Marketing program through the Marketing Challenge, an ongoing, unifying project that students track throughout the entirety of their time in the program.
Greg’s Marketing Challenge follows an exciting new brand that he is involved in helping get off the ground. Black Kings Connect, started by a longtime friend, is “a brand that facilitates empowering and challenging conversations between Black men and women who seek individual, mutual and communal uplift” through the flagship product of a podcast.
Even in his relatively short time in the program, Greg has found the Marketing Challenge to be an instrumental asset to his development as a marketer and to his fledgling company. “Every day when I learned a new concept, I would take it back in our brand development meetings with the founders,” Greg says. “I communicated everything that I was learning, and that reinforced my understanding and my enjoyment” of the start-up venture’s early days.
By applying the “Golden Circle” concept he learned in one of his first Master’s in Marketing courses, Greg has helped the stakeholders for Black Kings Connect understand their marketing mix and build their business with an eye toward sustainable development.
“If you were to personify Black Kings Connect, what would our story sound like? How would we appear to our listeners, to our social media followers, to our subscribers? To really develop the character of our brand and really personify and make it alive is something that I really take pride in.”
Equip Yourself to Market in an Age of Disruption at William & Mary
Are you interested in experiencing the boost to your career potential and shift in your professional mindset that Greg Roland has experienced in the Online Master’s in Marketing program? Check out admissions requirements for the program as well as upcoming application deadlines at William & Mary.