It’s no secret: business schools are doing a less than stellar job of preparing marketing students for careers in the current marketing environment. Marketing professors are not in tune with the rapidly changing marketing environment and the curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level is antiquated.
Business schools, in general, are so far behind the curve that the majority of our curriculum is designed based on the assumptions of, and using examples of, the production era (see The Evolution of Marketing). At best, the functional silos (accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and operations management) are remnants of the marketing department era. At worst, the department structure in business schools serves a living museum to an era gone by.
When did we lose our credibility? It started with our failure to acknowledge and to adequately prepare students for the service-based economy (see Tipping Point). As we move into the knowledge-based economy, the gap between what is being taught in business schools and what is needed in the business world continues to widen. The width of the gap is sufficient that today’s marketing students need to take charge of their own marketing education by supplementing the theories of the past with the realities of the present.
Honestly, my initial and somewhat visceral reaction to finding the website MarketingProfs was to question their credentials and their motives for daring to enter into my arena. In 15 minutes or less, my attitude changed dramatically. MarketingProfs serves as a leading-edge resource for today’s marketing environment. They are, in fact, better marketing professors than am I (or at least they’re somewhat more relevant). Likewise, six months ago HubSpot was not on my radar screen. Today, I can’t live without them and am completing the coursework for the Inbound Marketing University certification.
How Business School Marketing Departments Can Become Relevant Again
So how do the marketing departments in business schools become relevant again? We need to learn more about and catch up with the current marketing environment. Marketing, after all, isn’t stagnant. It is a living process that morphs and changes over time. The shift from traditional outbound marketing to inbound marketing went unnoticed in business schools. More interaction with those on the forefront of today’s marketing practices is needed. Joint research projects, marketing professors serving short-term internships in industry and partnering in curriculum design are three of the low-hanging fruit to consider.
Another source of change not utilized is the knowledge of marketing practitioners who serve as part-time lecturers in business schools. A quick review of the Top Marketing Professors on Twitter serves to support the contention that those in industry are more in tune with the current marketing environment than are many tenured or tenure-track marketing professors: four out of the top five listed and 23 out of the 64 included in the list are part-time lecturers. If you’ve earned your masters degree and are a marketing practitioner with skills in inbound marketing or social media marketing, please consider teaching part-time at a college or university near you.
Suggested Additional Coursework for Current Marketing Students
Although the game has changed, we haven’t significantly updated the business school or marketing curriculum in decades. In addition to supplementing their current marketing coursework through external resources, there are some skills that students can add to their marketing tool belts through their selection of elective coursework. Current marketing students may want to consider taking courses in the following topics as part of their undergraduate degree program:
English Composition (beyond English 101 and 102)
Graphic and Digital Photography Editing and Design
Interpersonal and Public Communication
Video Production and Editing
Web Page Editing and Design
Am I missing anything? If so, please feel free to suggest additions to the list by leaving comments at the bottom of this post.
Given the snail’s pace at which things change in the university environment, marketing students need to take charge of their own education. The curriculum in business schools is likely to remain out of touch with the business environment for the foreseeable future. Some of us will try to change the institution from within but we need your assistance in requesting and demonstrating the need for change. Me? I’m looking forward to the first department meeting in September when I somehow work the phrase “stimulating link juice” into the conversation. I wonder what the reaction will be?