Twenty years ago, I graduated from Bentley University with a degree in Computer Information Systems. I had always thought about going for a marketing degree, but was advised that it would be too hard to find a job after college. I decided to focus my energy elsewhere.

Little did I know that I’d have a very successful career in marketing, starting my own agency and working on campaigns for clients as diverse as HBO, American Eagle Outfitters. and The Coca-Cola Company.

Twenty years later, I’m back at Bentley. But this time, I’m an Adjunct Professor, teaching my first class: eMarketing.

Below is a recap of what I’ve learned so far from being on this side of the podium. Read on to get an inside scoop on what marketing students are learning today.

Why the Students Chose This Class

Since my class is a marketing elective, I was curious why they had chosen to take this course out of all the choices they had.

They may have said it each in their own unique way, but the constant theme was that they knew internet marketing is where everything is happening and they didn’t see that trend stopping anytime soon. They wanted to be prepared for it.

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What I Want the Students to Learn

Anyone can memorize a list of definitions and buzzwords, but in my class it is important that the students understand marketing concepts and put them into practice.

We’ll be setting a foundation of knowledge so that they know the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. They’ll learn about the trends happening in content marketing, mobile production, and community building. We will also insure that they get a basic understanding of marketing analytics, monitoring tools, and media purchasing.

No matter their major (and there are a variety of them in my class), it is important that they understand online marketing so that they can determine how it will fit in their careers going forward.

Current Events Are Needed for Business

We are using mine and Ann Handley’s book Content Rules as the textbook for the class, but we will also be using a Tumblr account to stay on top of current campaigns and trends. Print is out of date as soon as it hits the presses, and this is why the first bit of each class will be dedicated to the stories I clip and share with the students.

I hope this instills a clear need for them to stay up to date on the news in their industries in the future because it is an important business skill.

This week we talked about everything from the recent 100,000 personalized Nike+ videos, to the real-time mistake of the Seattle Seahawks, and the decision by YouTube to host their own Super Bowl halftime show.

As I surf the web and see things of interest, I’ll post them to the Tumblr account and then we can discuss the ones of interest. My hope is that the students will bring their own finds for discussion as well as they learn more about the industry.

Learning by Doing

Today’s marketing professionals must be able to plan, execute, and evolve quickly.

The class will be doing individual papers analyzing a brand of their choosings marketing efforts and giving their personal thoughts on how they could be improved. They’ll also be taking part in a group project where they choose a nonprofit and develop a detailed marketing plan for them using everything they’ve learned in the class. They’ll have to develop a presentation deck and present it to the class. Students will be not only be graded on the ideas, but also on how the questions they ask of the other groups during their presentations.

Too often marketers dive right into the building and executing of plans without taking the needed time to properly strategize and think about how they are going to measure the results of their campaigns. I want to make sure my students start doing this from the beginning.

What Else Do They Need to Learn?

If you are reading this, then I’m going to make the assumption that you value online marketing and have definite thoughts on the industry.

What topics do you want to make sure some of the best and the brightest future employees of yours learn? What topics do you think I can skip over and not teach them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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