Learning Experience Design

I am a Professor. I am also a Fraud.

Not many people have the privilege of earning the title “professor”. I’m very fortunate to have it. But it’s all a lie. This article explains why.

Not many people have the privilege of earning the title Professor, especially a full-time tenured one. I know that I am very fortunate to have it…but it is all a big 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 a poorly fitted tweed blazer with elbow patches, pleated pants and ho-hum shoes?

None of that describes who I am.

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

The first rule of marketing is: it’s not about you. Marketing is fundamentally about these five (5) things:

  1. Knowing who you help
  2. Understanding what they need and want
  3. Delivering something of value to them
  4. Being present in moments when they want to connect with you
  5. Building relationships with those you help

The only thing I actually profess is that marketing is an essential literacy. My professional heart and mind is deeply committed to marketing, learning experience design and innovation.

Why? Partly because as an INTP personality it is who I am. And partly because I deeply believe in these words:

Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation.

Peter Drucker

My true role in education is not as a Professor. It is as a Learning Experience Designer and a Facilitator. It is to encourage people to throw themselves into the messiness of learning about marketing and digital media.

My learners and I come together as a single community of learners–in physical or virtual spaces–to interact with each other on different topics in my areas of specialization:

  • Brand management
  • Marketing strategy and planning
  • Marketing measurement and analytics
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing

I do my best to spark interest in the topic. To outline essential processes and practices to both apply and think critically about. To ask questions that spark divergent thinking and discussion. To encourage people to share their experiences, ideas and perspectives. To help them develop specific skills to apply in their marketing careers.

Together, we develop our marketing literacy in this learning environment.

Despite the prevailing attitude that marketing is changing in the 21st century; I firmly believe if you strip away the hype, the core principles and processes of marketing have not really changed. However, how marketing communication comes to life in market using different formats (words, visual, audio, video) and delivered across more media platforms and channels–both online and offline–has changed. The tactical execution is at a pace no one person can keep up with on their own.

This is why throwing dozens of brains on a marketing, marketing communication and/or digital media topic–each one of us coming at it with a unique perspective, experience and level of skill–is so much better than one brain.

Why is it important for me to maintain this perspective?

Because thinking like a marketer makes me a better teacher. And designing like a learner-centred teacher makes me a better marketer. It’s a virtuous cycle using complementary skills that is 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 professor is not a speaker; rather an engager. The true role of the professor is not as a lecturer; but as a facilitator of learning. The following passage from the article really resonates with me:

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.

It nicely captures why I do what I do, and my beliefs in the power of marketing and learning experience design.

Oh yeah, if you really must call me professor, don’t expect that I will show up in class rocking I-just-spent-hours-in-my-office-hunched-over-books style. I have been told that I “look like a marketer” (whatever that means). And when I DO wear a tweed blazer it will be decidedly on point. 👌🏼

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