Another Letter to Marketing Professors

Dear Business School Marketing Professors–

How are you doing? I haven’t had time to drop you a letter since my last one in April, but I took a good, long look at something today that made me think of you.

Leave it to the guru, Seth Godin, to write another blog post that makes it all clear (you guys might want to consider recruiting him and turning him into the President of Professors). His post is about the textbooks you guys use to educate these kids you send out here. You may want to rethink the whole concept, as he suggests.

I’ll tell you why I agree with his ideas. Re-read the last letter and think about the skills these kids lack when you send them out here. You can’t teach that stuff in a textbook. These kids need real-world skills and perspective, not definitions and false belief that they’re equipped with what it takes to succeed. Seth is right, let Wikipedia have the definitions — their definitions are much deeper and broader than anything in a textbook anyway.

Plus, when do kids ever learn things like people skills with customers, time management and managing expectations from a textbook? I know, I know, you guys do that all the time — but I keep reminding you, you’re academics, you’re j-o-b is to write, read and learn from books and studies and papers. I don’t give out a how-to book to people out here, you’ve gotta figure it out on your own, and quickly. But c’mon, a marketing textbook for a class in 2009 with no mention of Google? How is that in anyone’s best interest? The folks who write your books don’t know about Google yet?

Listen, give Seth a call, invite him to your next conference. Hell, read his latest book, and use that as the textbook in your next class. If nothing else, go Google some information on Google.

Let’s keep working to make sure the kids you send out here charge ahead with the best idea on what it takes to get ahead, create a strong personal brand, and build a career.

I’ll be in touch again soon.

The Real World

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Sometimes It’s All in The Show

It’s been said time and again, in one way or another. Focus on substance, not style.

Yet this is a fact — sometimes, your customers want a good show.

Sometimes style is king. Sometimes it differentiates. Sometimes it appears unneccesary, yet has deep impact.

In tough economic times like now, style is often the first to go in favor of efficiency and economy. And hey, that makes alot of sense. Yet when well-placed, style can win customers in these same tough times. If you watched the video stream of of Apple’s iPod 3G S launch today, you saw alot of style. And you think that won’t make a difference at the point of purchase when it comes out next week? You don’t think people who make less money than last year or have no jobs or have huge debt won’t be laying out cash for an iPhone that isn’t a need but a want? Style is part of the reason they want it.

You have to take a good, long look at substance, because that is most of the value proposition that wins and keeps customers. Yet sometimes you have to charge ahead and add a little style, because that may be the extra kicker that makes the offer, product or brand too enticing to pass up.

There’s a time and a place — it’s up to you to be the filter.