This has been a week of travel and of learning. Time and again I discover that when I teach or present I live just as much or even more than my audience. This week more than most.
One of my undergraduate groups at Bath University gave brief presentations of their project work. There are a lot of teams so we spread it over two mornings. After only ten weeks of marketing one might suspect their would be little depth but undergraduates are bright these days and constantly get ahead of you. More than anything, though, they look at companies that you think you know well from quite a fresh stance.
One of the first things you notice is how important leather companies – in the widest sense – have been in marketing. Nike as a virtual corporation, Hush Puppies in giving us the “Tipping Point”, Converse and Adidas teaching us about consumer ownership of brands and LVMH changing the world of luxury. And having watched these companies for years thoughts and opinions about them evolve in a similar way to resource based theory. Suddenly you sit through a fifteen minute presentation and find yourself learning about a different business.
The initial response is to correct what the students are saying, using your “superior” knowledge but in fact given a presentation or two you realise that they have not “got it wrong” but they have researched the same facts as you know, but analysed from a different perspective. This is pertinent as we are moving fast into a world where the concept of marketing as “doing something to the consumers” with a great advert, pricing policy or distribution setup is passed, replaced by concepts of value in use, or service dominant logic.
For older marketers understanding this change is complex, and alien. But my undergraduate students have grown up with it, and are buying less from companies that stay in the old world, trying to remain in control.
We can help with the theory and the approach, to allow the students to develop and apply their skills, but never ignore their judgements. They are often closer to the real world than you think.
We are all students at the end of the day. Learning never stops