For the past few years, I have been co-teaching a graduate-level class on social media marketing at Fairleigh Dickinson University with my friend and Biznology Master, Mike Moran. In the past, I have also taught classes at Pace University and Fordham University (my alma maters!) as well as teaching classes for the Brand Activation Association (formerly the Promotion Marketing Association) and the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute. My years of teaching have proved an invaluable complement to my professional marketing experience.
Here’s why I think every marketer should teach:
Teaching promotes mastery: As Seneca, the Roman philosopher said about 2,000 years ago, “While we teach, we learn.” That is still just as true today. If you ever think you know something well, just try teaching it—you will find some large and gaping holes in your knowledge that you will be forced to fill quickly as your students take your ideas places you never imagined. Teaching allows you to be a lifelong student and learning more about your field can only help you professionally.
Shake the cobwebs out of your brain: I’ve been working in marketing for over 25 years and when you do anything for that long, some of your subject knowledge gets a little hazy. (You know, you learn something interesting, and mentally file it away for later use, but you don’t use it right away and later on, you can’t find the “file.”) Teaching is a great way to mentally “clean house” and shake the dust and cobwebs out of your brain and with your newly reorganized knowledge bank, you’ll be so much more productive at work!
Get different perspectives: Students are great because they provide different perspectives on the subject matter. They are approaching the material from a different place than you are (due to background, age, experience, etc.) thus they may see the material differently than you do. This kind of feedback is invaluable and you can gain special insights into marketing from your students. Who knows, but something a student says in class might even give you the idea you need for a client!
Explore passion points: Teaching allows you to explore the things you really love. Typically you have a fair amount of latitude on what you need to cover in your course, so you can focus the class on the things that you like. There are a few benefits to this: 1, you will enjoy teaching the course, 2, if you enjoy teaching, you will be enthusiastic and that enthusiasm will hopefully translate to your students, and 3, you will learn a lot from your own course.
Acquire new talent: A side benefit to teaching is that your classes can act as an excellent screening process for acquiring talent. When you come across a great student who is passionate about learning and can write well, hire them! I had one such student in my class last fall and I hired him because he is a great writer and a conscientious student and that combination makes for a good employee.
How about you? Do you teach? If so, why?