Should people with PhD’s be teaching students how to market or should schools be recruiting people who have actually succeeded in marketing? I believe the answer to that question is obvious, but there are still too many schools teaching students that marketing is a science with data not an art.
Every once in a while I get asked to guest lecture a marketing class at some top schools. I love to do it and my message is pretty clear “marketing is an art, not a science”. Too many classes focus on good, basic marketing principles but they also try and teach a “process” to marketing rather than the most important concept which is “understand your customers”.
If I had a chance I would much rather hear a lecture from someone who accomplished something rather than a Professor who had some papers published and has never worked in a branding or marketing. Imagine if Steve Jobs went into teaching? His classes would be standing room only.
What I do mean that marketing is more of an art? Today’s marketers are too overwhelmed and focused on data that doesn’t help them gain an understanding of what consumers and customers really want. While we have tons of data, very few people actually know what that data is telling them. That’s a serious problem.
The best analytics are not enclosed in a Power Point deck, but rather they tell a story and clearly draw a map from insights to opportunities . That’s the problem. Lack of critical thinking skills necessary to succeed and the lack of the skills needed to “sell” the opportunities within the organization.
The biggest success stories I came in my career, all from one concept: get out and listen to consumers and watch them shop. It helped me develop new products at Sony that were a huge success and launch some online marketing initiatives that succeeded beyond my expectations. I try and share how I felt when I had success, but also how I learned from my mistakes. That’s important because research shows people want to feel good about their work and the first step is teaching them from business leaders not PhD’s who spend their lives as tenured professors.