Marketing is a great topic.
I’ve been working for large digital marketing companies for 10 years, and in the modern world, we’re all marketers. As Tom Peters famously said, we’re all a brand. The Brand Called You. And so I’m in marketing, you’re in marketing, and almost all of us are.
So how exciting to discover the Wharton School of Business was offering a series of courses online which they called their Foundational MBA courses. Accounting, Operations, Marketing and Corporate Finance. The rest don’t interest me, but I jumped in with both feet at the Marketing course. And I just completed the exam a few minutes ago, and I wanted to post my thoughts.
First, like many of the big name schools, the school clearly invested a few dollars in video production and sound editing. Many early courses from smaller schools (like the University of Michigan Introduction to Finance course I took, or the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Computational Investing course) were clearly done on a shoestring budget. Professor Kaul is standing in front of a wall with a laptop advancing the slides, while Professor Balch is going high tech in front of a green screen with cheesy intro music. The marketing course takes place in multiple locations, with camera shots alternating between zoomed-out and close-in in neatly cut segments. None of the 3 professors who give the lecture appear to be sitting or anywhere near a computer at any time.
Second, the topic is neatly divided in a well-thought-out syllabus and style. Each of the three professors covers a distinct part of marketing, and after delivering three lectures in a row, a quiz wraps the entire segment up neatly. The final exam covered every topic and almost all the weeks of the course.
And third, I found the course to be at the right level for me. I’ve been in marketing for years, but have never been formally trained in it. So when they talk about the value of segmenting customers and delivering unique value to each segment, I can understand what that means because that’s what some companies I work with do. But this course clearly went deeper into each marketing topic that I naturally knew, and so I learned a lot.
In the end, I was a bit disappointed with my score on the final exam. Sure, it’s more than 80% which is objectively quite good, but I was expecting higher, into the 90’s. I really thought about each final exam question a lot, and within the ethical rules of the exam did my best to look back at the video lectures and find the answers to each question. So, it was a nicely difficult test. Not a slam dunk for sure.
All in all, if you are interested in how companies market to you and want to be able to recognize the difference when a company is trying to appeal to you on an emotional level versus presenting a rational appeal, this course might be something you’d like. Whether you take it seriously, or just watch the videos each week and try to learn something new, there’s value in it for sure.
Update April 2014: The class is being offered again this month if you are interested.