No matter the class you’re handling, it’s a teacher’s responsibility to facilitate a student’s communication, ensuring she knows how to transfer her ideas and get what she wants. While lecturing on the topic of marketing is a necessity, a student must move from the theoretical to the practical. With the completion of marketing-related assignments, a student will have a better understanding of rhetoric and audience, principles that will help her wherever she goes.
Instruct your students to complete a Marketing Article Analysis paper such as the kind assigned by Hope B. Corrigan at Loyola College in Maryland. When a student delves deeply into an article from Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal or some other business periodical, the student will learn how a company works and the attitude of the business press toward different organizations and people.
Give your students advertisements from the past and have them describe what would work today and what would not work. For example, old car ads tend to have far more words than current ads. The car is depicted in different places, too. A De Soto ad from 1937 depicts the car in front of a yacht, suggesting the customer will experience the life of a jet-setter when they purchase the car. Today, many car ads place the car somewhere in nature. Students should be able to describe why.
Capitalize on what could be the most popular advertisements around: Super Bowl ads. Although most television commercials don’t garner such attention, the commercials for the Big Game are ranked by USA Today and discussed a great deal in the media. They’re also a good study because advertisers do their best to go to the extreme, which means they sometimes upset people. Have your students decide which ads they feel are most effective, and most importantly, why.
Create sample advertisements while working in small groups. Each group should be assigned a different product for which they must prepare ads for different media. The important part is the critique. Each project should be presented to the class as though it were a real ad agency pitch. While the teacher should assign the grade, students should be advised to accept feedback from fellow students.
Assign students in small groups to work with local nonprofit organizations to create new advertising materials for them. Homes for battered women, for example, will always need websites and brochures they can use in their efforts to solicit donations. While you can have your students design the materials they devise, you could also work with a teacher in a graphic design program to pair marketing students with designers: a situation they could experience in the real world.
Ethan Pendleton is a teacher and writer in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Ohio State University at Marion and teaches writing in various capacities in his community.