Students asleep in a university lecture hall

I’m a Professor…I’m also a Fraud

Blair Smith | August 7, 2016

Not many people have the privilege of earning the title of “professor”. I’ve done it. But it’s all a lie.

When you hear the word professor what do you think?

Somebody who stands at a podium giving lectures to people in college or university. Somebody who professes their knowledge on a specific topic. Somebody who says things like “welcome to the hallowed halls of academia”. Somebody who wears poorly fitting tweed blazers with elbow patches and pleated pants.

None of those describe me.

That all sounds very one-way. It puts me on a pedestal above people. And that’s definitely not my sense of style.

As any marketer understands, it’s not about you. It’s about who you help and understanding what they need. It’s being present in moments when you can do something for them. It’s doing this consistently to build a relationship with them.

The only thing I’ll profess are that my professional heart and mind is deeply committed to the trade of marketing. Designing it. Teaching it. Talking about it. Why? Because I fundamentally believe in Peter Drucker’s influential statement on business strategy:

Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation. – Peter Drucker

My role in the learning environment isn’t as a professor. I prefer the idea of being a designer and a facilitator for people to experience the magic of marketing and digital media for themselves.

We come together as a learning group–in either a physical or virtual space–to interact with each other on a certain topic in the area of marketing planning, content marketing, online and social media or mobile integration.

What I do is spark interest in the topic. Identify key concepts to understand. Ask questions that encourage discussion and inspire further exploration. Prompt people to share their experiences, ideas and perspectives. Help them build specific skills to apply in their marketing careers.

In this environment, we all up our marketing game together.

The core principles of marketing haven’t really changed over time; how they come to life in market and through ever evolving online media channels is at a pace no one person can keep up with on their own.

Throwing 50 minds on a marketing or digital media topic–all of us coming at it with unique perspectives, experiences and levels of skill–is so much better than one.

I just don’t have to do the assignments or write any of the exams 🙂

Why it’s important to maintain this perspective?

Because acting like a marketer makes me a better teacher. And thriving as a learner-centred teacher will make me a better marketer. It’s a virtuous cycle using complementary skills that’s nicely explained in the article 7 Reasons to Hire a Former Teacher for a Content Marketing Job from the Content Marketing Institute:

  1. Teachers are explainers
  2. Teachers are planners
  3. Teachers know the proper ways to use research
  4. Teachers believe in measured progress
  5. Teachers are quick learners
  6. Teachers are used to the ‘battle for attention’
  7. Teachers are relationship builders

This means that the best professors aren’t speakers. We’re engagers. We aren’t lecturers, we’re questioners and story sharers.

This is expanded on in the following passage from the article:

All of us can name significant teachers from our past. In some cases, the bond was forged on the quality of the information the teacher provided. In more cases, I suspect, it was because of the way the teacher made you feel. Often, it’s a combination of the two.

And, isn’t the goal of content marketing to build relationships? Not only does this require content marketers to learn how to share the right information, but also how to make our prospects feel empowered and optimistic after the transfer of information.

In my related roles as marketing planner or learning experience designer, the passage nicely captures why I do what I do and how I approach teaching and marketing.

If you really must call me a professor, don’t expect any long-winded lectures or poor-fitting clothing. And when I wear a tweed blazer it will be decidedly on point.

 

About Blair Smith

“I’m a Professor of Marketing and Digital Media, and Head of the Digital Media Marketing postgraduate certificate program at George Brown College in Toronto. I consult as a Learning Experience Designer and Instructor to the Canadian Marketing Association on the Digital Analytics course.”

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I'm a Professor...I'm also a Fraud

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