By Linda Irwin –
Starting in 2019, I had the opportunity to transform 3 different graduate level Marketing courses based on the recognition that current marketing paradigms do not support sustainable business or climate survival. Here are some lessons learned to help others seeking to transform marketing practices.
A few highlights:
To truly transform marketing practices, the core role of marketing must be reexamined. I found it necessary to create a new definition of the purpose and role of marketing in business. I collaborated with my Department Chair to publish a new definition of marketing that changes focus from pushing products to creating value (Irwin, Schneider 2020). We intentionally flipped marketing’s focus from “product-pushing” to a practice where marketing creates value for the business, customer, and society by solving valid problems through goods or services.
The role of marketing must be part of a business system where all efforts are aligned to achieve new measures of sustainable success. Is this approach supported by research and business results? Yes! Many books, journal articles, and business stories validate the effectiveness of integrated, sustainable business practices that create value for the company, its customers, and society.
Saddle bagging environmental cases and SDGs into existing curriculum is relatively easy but not necessarily transformative. I tried this approach with one course, surveyed results, and confirmed it did not change hearts and minds about the role of marketing and sustainability.
The business environment is changing too quickly to wait for the ultimate text or perfect syllabus. As soon as we launched courses, we reviewed feedback and revised elements of each course. Faculty must be prepared to continually research and revise their material as the world around us changes exponentially. The good news is that there is quite a bit of material available to build on.
Facing rapid change means that we will not have answers for an uncertain future. This is uncomfortable for many faculty and students. Instead, I explicitly include activities where students learn processes and analytical tools to help them solve problems and determine best courses of action in varied situations. We encourage students to be creative, curious, and
flexible, and we explain why those skills will last longer than any specific business case solution.
YOU can do this!
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