Peter Drucker, a management expert, said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” The same can be said for teaching. In order to teach a subject to a student effectively, you have to understand what will grab the student’s attention. Students are a diverse population with various interests and priorities, so it is critical to understand what the students want and the lesson will sell itself.
In 2013, I left my comfortable business office in search of a career in teaching. I was extremely passionate about life-long learning and wanted to make a difference in today’s classroom. I used the alternate route method to receive my business teaching certification and walked into the classroom unaware of what was coming next. I had big visions of a discussion-based learning environment and students wanting to hear what I had to say. I quickly learned that not all students learn the same way and not all students were necessarily interested in what I had to teach them.
I needed to understand my students’, or my customers’ and needs and motivation in order to achieve success. The students were not interested in regurgitating marketing terms and strategies, nor was I interested in teaching that way. I needed to figure out how to bring my passion for learning and marketing into the classroom so the students would be interested. I wanted my students to leave the classroom with not only marketing skills, but real-life skills they could use beyond my classroom.
In the coming years, I began running my classroom with more application-based lessons. This year, my Marketing II classes are applying each unit lesson to a specific piece of marketing – marketing research, pricing, promotion and selling. To begin, the students decide on a product or an idea for a product that their “company” can sell at the school store. Once the idea has been researched, the groups create surveys to administer to my Marketing I classes requesting opinions on their business idea. In the next unit, students analyze various pricing strategies and apply what they learned to price their chosen product examining costs and profit margin. Next, students create a promotional plan to promote their business and the product they are choosing to sell. Finally, students apply selling strategies by selling their actual products in the school store. At the end of this project, students will summarize their entire experience in a marketing plan they will present to the class.
Throughout the marketing class, students are analyzing and creating a business just as one would do with a real business. Students have the opportunity to explore the creation, pricing, promoting and selling of a product on a smaller scale. Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” In my classroom, involving my students, or my “customers,” is the way I am able to allow my product to sell itself.
Rebecca Sheehan is a business teacher at Montville Township High School in Montville, NJ. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas and a Masters in Business Administration from William Paterson University.