As business school educators, our job is to adequately prepare our students to enter the workforce. Likewise, we want our graduates to make positive contributions to their organizations and to distinguish themselves as valued employees. The problem is, as discussed before, business schools in general and marketing departments in particular have been slow to embrace the social/mobile marketing era. In many regards, we are struggling to catch up with current marketing theories and practices.
Fortunately, HubSpot offers support to business professors who seek to integrate social media marketing into their curriculum. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University training and certification delivers curriculum materials designed to provide your students with a foundation on which to build.
This past academic year, in response to student demand, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Charlton College of Business Department of Management and Marketing incorporated IMU training and certification into two undergraduate courses and one MBA course. We’re proud to report that between the three classes, 141 students successfully earned IMU certification (3 with honors distinction). In our opinion, IMU certification provides added value and external verification of basic competence in social media marketing. And, coupled with their diploma from our AACSB-accredited business program, IMU certification provides our graduates with a competitive advantage when searching for marketing jobs within the Boston-Providence region. Here are three lessons learned:
1) Not Every Student will “Get It”
Perhaps we overestimated the technical prowess of our students, but not every student enrolled in the courses understood the utility of earning IMU certification or possessed the basic technical understanding necessary to earn certification. MBA students were more successful, in general, than were undergraduate students in successfully passing the IMU certification exam. Overall, 83 percent of all students in the three classes earned IMU certification. In the MBA class, the pass rate was 97 percent.
2) Make it Worth The Effort
Students pursuing IMU certification take 16 modules (offered free by HubSpot) and a 50 question multiple choice exam (offered free by HubSpot). Those who pass the exam with a score of 76 or higher receive designation from HubSpot as an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional (free, including a printable/frame-worthy certificate). Although HubSpot’s free training and certification is a brilliant content marketing strategy, students need to be motivated to do the work and to pass the exam. We did this by counting certification as an exam score within the overall point system of the class. Thus, the impact on the final grade for those students who didn’t pass the certification exam was negative.
3) Make it “Hands-on”
Learning by doing is powerful. The difference between understanding theory and being able to apply theory is vast. Require students to work on their social media skills. Make them blog, develop professional LinkedIn profiles, participate actively on Twitter, clean up their Facebook page, develop a video resume and focus on personal branding via social media. Convince them that investing in personal branding is an investment in their future.
We’re proud of the 32 MBA students and 109 undergraduate students who earned IMU certification as part of their marketing curriculum this past academic year. We’re confident that they’re well prepared to enter the workforce and to make a positive contribution to the businesses fortunate enough to hire them. We know that they will distinguish themselves as social media savvy marketing executives able to compete with anyone.
How can we be certain? Our graduates have already distinguished themselves as innovators and leaders in social media marketing from coast-to-coast (Boston to San Francisco). This batch of new graduates, building on the success of and with the support of their predecessors, is well positioned to make an immediate impact.
Do yourself a favor. When hiring new marketing talent, ask them about their experience in social media marketing. Ask them to provide verification of their prowess in inbound marketing. Ask them for their IMU certification. And when they provide it, ask them about the excellent marketing education that they received from the Charlton College of Business.
Congratulations to the first 141 inbound marketing certified students to graduate from our business school. The future of marketing is in your hands.