Over the last 20 years, marketing has evolved at a tremendous pace, and the transition from outbound marketing to inbound marketing is in full stride. This isn’t just one marketer’s opinion, either: Cornerstone brands like Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble are shifting budgets, dropping outbound agencies or laying off marketers. Many big outbound agencies are experiencing shrinking contracts, reduced opportunity or, in some cases, looming bankruptcy. This is a reflection of today’s new marketing reality – outbound is being displaced by inbound, permission-based marketing strategies.
Unfortunately, the curriculum taught in today’s universities does not reflect the above reality. Not one resume from a 2013 marketing graduate on my desk contains a single social media account, blog or website URL. These are bare-minimum requirements to work as a marketer today. When asked, every candidate has openly admitted that they don’t read any blogs.
The interview process proved what the resumes hinted at – that today’s marketing graduates have virtually zero Internet marketing training or knowledge. Industry terms like inbound marketing, content marketing and search engine marketing may solicit nothing but blank stares.
The marketing classes of 2013 are fluent when discussing markets, personas and outbound tactics. But that’s the easy stuff to teach and train. I’d much rather have someone who has been robustly exposed to Internet marketing and blogging during their formal education.
The last few years have solidified content marketing as the number one strategy for building community and driving traffic, conversions and customers from all inbound web channels. Additionally, 64% of B2B marketers cite producing enough content as a challenge. Since universities aren’t teaching Internet marketing in a robust way, the next best skill set to hire is that of a journalist.
Having journalists in an agency’s marketing department has many advantages. Not only do journalists have the ability to interview the multitude of subject matter experts in an organization, they can write copious amounts of problem-solving content for the blog, whitepapers, and ebooks. The content creation process will serve as their Internet marketing training.
Universities should start scouring the country for true Internet marketing thought leaders and hire them. It’s critical that these professors keep one foot in the industry and one in academia because of the fluid nature of the Internet and technology. Another potential solution is for current professors to reach out to the local experts in the community and invite them to speak regularly throughout the semester.
As the displacement of outbound to inbound continues, the above curriculum fix will undoubtedly prepare marketing graduates for better careers in many marketing departments throughout the country. Universities aren’t doing their marketing students any favors with today’s curriculum. As long as traditional marketing education remains steeped in Mad Men marketing, I’ll be looking to hire journalists.
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