It’s an epidemic, we’re never academic at work!

Posted on August 27, 2010

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I had the pleasure recently of doing a bit of intensive coaching for a first year business degree student who was faced with a marketing resist the following day.   I figured it would be a piece of cake, after all it was just a first year paper.

It soon dawned on me that (a) the paper was tougher than I’d remembered them being, and (b) I’d forgotten a lot of the academic fundamentals.   I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  In the day-to-day grind that is ‘real life’ you just don’t have the time to apply your formal learning to everyday challenges.

Value chain

You can't beat a good old model

But, it’s not just time that gets in the way, it’s also the latest trends.  Our heads are always turned by some new method.  It gets talked about in the right circles, and low-and-behold you’ll find that any marketer worth their salt is incorporating the new approach in their latest campaign.  Not only that, if you actually mention some good old marketing fundamental thinking in a meeting, your fellow attendees will be tweeting as you speak, reporting the fact that you’re officially past it.

So, was I struggling with the 1st year paper because what I’d learned (last century) was now out of date, like an old mouldy loaf of bread languishing on the back of the shelf?  No.  I’m happy to report that fundamentals are still fundamental and they don’t change, at least not without good reason – just look at the trouble Darwin had and still has in most parts of modern-day America.  As I explained the key models and how they worked to the student, it quickly became apparent that they were actually really useful tools and that they could still help in the real world.  I think I convinced him to follow my own mantra at Uni – chuck in a model in every answer because every lecturer I’ve ever met loves a good model and will give you extra marks for it.

The other thing that struck me was that the past papers didn’t talk of new faddish ideas that always purport that marketing fundamentals are dead.  Now, this could be because the lecturers are behind the times, but I’d like to think it’s because most of what we’re told these days is short-lived hyperbole spouted in response to a fast-paced environment where it’s quite natural to think – this is new, all that has gone before no longer applies.

The fact is that your old marketing know-how is still valid and if you applied it to everyday challenges you’d probably find it quite useful.  In fact, if more businesses did this when it comes to ‘new’ challenges like social media they might find they’d get a higher return on their marketing budget   …just don’t tell anyone that your applying “old school” thinking and you’ll be okay.

Ask yourself when you last used some academic thinking in your job?  Mmaybe it’s just me, but I bet there’s a few of you that can’t even remember…

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Posted in: Marketing