5 Things They Probably Won’t Teach you in a Marketing Class

By June 22, 2015September 1st, 2017Blog


The shift from the Advertising Age to the Social Age of branding and marketing has lead to wholesale – and often painful – changes in the business models and value of media companies, ad agencies and mass market brands. The same market and societal shifts also impact educational institutions – where these shifts frequently change at speeds faster than the curriculum approval processes. As such, a Marketing degree can quickly become a History of Marketing degree without some proactive self-education.

Over rice bowls at Lucky Robot on South Congress in Austin, my intern Karli Enriquez and I had a vigorous discussion on theory vs reality as she earns her Marketing Degree from St Edward’s University.  In our discussion, we settled on five key lessons that you likely won’t learn in a marketing class.

  1. Social media is a Strategy (not a Tactic). 
    In education, social media is often presented through the lens of mass market thinking as a broadcast or promotional tactic. While certain aspects of social have a broadcast/promotional element, social’s primary function is for brands to have two-way communication with the people that touch the brand. A more accurate comparison to traditional branding is that social is a modern form of PR – but you are talking directly to the people instead of through media outlets.  Social media is better taught as a strategy that is an extension of a brand’s culture.
  2. HR is Marketing.
    Marketing is often taught through an outward facing lens. However, in the modern age of marketing, your first audience is your employees.  In addition, the Social Age and the influx of Millennials into the workforce is shifting HR’s role from compliance to engagement. This means that HR now has the same messaging and consistency requirements as marketing.  A more human-centric approach to teaching  marketing will  better prepare students for the hyper-connected, hyper-amplified world where your employees , customers and investors may all know each other!
  3. Everything is an App.
    It is frequently taught that brands are built through advertising, promotion, etc. In reality, the user experience is what builds modern brands. User experience is often a term isolated to websites and apps, but in modern branding,  you don’t just build an app, you become an app. This means every touchpoint with a human has to be simple, interactive, and shareable. This includes employee appearance, lobby design, new customer onboarding , executive social media presence, new employee training and even over-looked areas like clean restrooms!
  4. Branding is Business. 
    While product branding is delegated to internal teams and agencies, the overall brand is now the responsibility of the senior leadership team.  As such, the brand is frequently at the center of the business.  This means marketers need to better understand business. A modern marketing curriculum should reflect what modern brand is – the cumulative effect of leadership style, culture, innovation, customer experience and how the business model is woven in to all of those areas. Being a brander or marketer that is also knows business is a distinct advantage.
  5. A Marketing Degree will get you a Marketing Job.
    If your career goal is to find a good marketing job, then a Marketing degree makes sense. However, if you want to change the world as an entrepreneur, a Marketing degree can actually be a limiter. Too often, a Marketing degree will put you in a career groove that directly conflicts with wanting to be an entrepreneur. A Marketing degree directs you towards getting an entry-level marketing job where you can find yourself climbing a ladder that is leaned against a corporate career wall rather than the entrepreneurial wall. Again, if a career in marketing is your goal, then that’s ok!

Many thanks to Karli for sparking a fun, insightful conversation!

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