Inside a Marketing Class at Northeastern University

What’s it like to have a CEO & CRO as a professor? How does ‘beneficial’ homework actually look like?

A lot of people study marketing at college for various reasons.

Some love to be creative, others are passionate about brands, others were told to study that by a relative or a friend.

I decided to study marketing because I enjoyed innovation, collaboration, and most importantly, giving personality to brands. There is nothing more exciting to me than understanding how a company and brand are created from scratch, and the importance for company leaders to drive their mission forward.

When deciding about my last marketing class at Northeastern, I laid out all of my options to think about how each could challenge me and help me grow as an individual and marketer.

Nevertheless, I’m extremely lucky to have chosen the one that intimidated me the most.

The last marketing class 📚

I selected the course ‘Sales & Marketing for Entrepreneurs’, a curriculum created at Northeastern’s entrepreneurial San Francisco program. The course is taught by Professor R. Paul Singh, Chief Revenue Officer at Tada Cognitive Solutions & CEO at Startup Strategies, who has been a founder and CEO of five startups and four successful exits.

It was an incredible experience to be taught by someone who had extensive experience in product management, marketing, and business development at many successful companies including 3Com, Ascend, and Sun Microsystems.

The most impactful thing about taking this course was learning from a plethora of sources and how to apply it in multiple ways in the real world. As well, being able to share my own experiences and input with a tight-knit group. Our class had no more than 10 people, which allowed us to be creative and open with one another.

I’ve never experienced feeling so comfortable and confident to raise my hand to answer a question or discuss an issue at stake. Even if my point wasn’t objectively correct, or even remote close to the real answer. And I was pleasantly comforted by other members of the class who felt the exact same way.

4 key takeaways from this course

I was able to learn the most effective branding and sales techniques for startup growth from executive speakers and our professor’s professional and personal experience.

Here are the top four things that made this class at Northeastern special:

1. Real-life data analysis as homework 📝

Professor Singh expected us to deliver high-quality work but made it in a way that was useful and exciting. Throughout the semester, our homework assignments revolved around creating personal blogs (like this one!) to amplify our personal brand, conducting campaign or market research analysis, and creating a final consulting research project.

The homework assignments had room for creativity and a learning curve. Some of my favorite topics for these were:

  1. Selecting my favorite marketing campaign and doing a deep analysis on it; I chose ‘The best a man can be’ by Gilette.

2) Identifying a growing market and the latest startup opportunities; I presented on the Neuromarketing market. In this specific project, I was able to even identify a passion of mine which is to challenge myself as a marketer to think about the ethics of data privacy.

Neuromarketing project

3) Our favorite company and what we would change about it; I selected Victoria’s Secret and the many ways in which this company could improve and grow in today’s retail ecosystem.

PS: You can read about the 3 things I’d do if I was the CEO of Victoria’s Secret here.

2. Learning from executive guest lecturers 🎤

Our curriculum was built in a way that allowed us to cover the most important topics of marketing in each 3-hour class. In order to have diverse and real perspectives on each topic, Professor Singh would bring people from his network and industry to share their own expertise with us.

We had incredible guest speakers who gave us insight into what it’s like working in the sales or marketing industry, and their biggest tips to be successful. Some examples of incredibly beneficial classes were:

  • Ravi Ramachandran, VP of Sales at Okera: Introducing and Understanding Sales Funnel, Including Differences in B2B and B2C Sales.
  • June Bower, Talker in Chief at Talkshop and former CMO at iPass, CMO at Financial Engines, VP at Cisco: Brand, Product Positioning, and Messaging.
  • Tasmin Singh, Enterprise Customer Success Manager at Iterable and Charles Howard, Director of Enterprise Customer Success: Email Marketing Fundamentals and Intro to Customer Success.

3. Connecting concepts to real-life events 🌎

At the beginning of every class, Professor Singh would encourage students to talk about the current events related to marketing and business. These conversations sometimes developed into great key discussions with valuable insights.

When coming to class, we were not only encouraged to have read a corresponding Harvard Business Review case study or prepared a presentation but also actively read the news to share what was going on in the world.

For instance, when reading a TechCrunch article about the latest unicorn, I’m more inclined to look at the company’s search engine ranking, do a quick website audit, and understand their sales strategy through their use case page to understand what is the company’s ‘marketing spark’.

This simple exercise created a new habit and increased my motivation to bring real-life events into other classes, and relate class concepts to things that happen in my everyday life.

4. Exercising written and verbal communication skills by presenting in front of a CEO and VP 🗣️

For our final research project, we worked with Zemplee, a company that creates AI technology for eldercare. We worked closely with the founder and CEO of Simple, Aparna Pujar. My team focused on the market of retirement communities and developed recommendations to cater to the market’s needs in the website, use case profile, and social media strategy.

It was an incredible experience to do research for an actual company, and even more exciting to work with the CEO to provide valuable insights. For the final presentations, we were able to present to Aparna and the VP of HR at Uber (who happened to be one of her advisors).

One of the greatest things about this project was knowing that your work and knowledge were being taken seriously.

It wasn’t about completing the work for a grade or for mindless completion, but actually knowing that your work can help a company tap into a new market or shift their whole branding strategy.

Final Thoughts

This felt like a graduate-level class. I end the semester grateful to have had this experience and have been able to complete my Marketing concentration at Northeastern.

I have no doubts that the knowledge that I acquired through my classes will help me become a more thoughtful, empathetic, and goal-oriented marketer in the future.

If you are interested in finding out what other cool things I learn from other classes and work experiences, feel free to follow my publication Fernanda’s Knowledge Vault ;)

#Marketing #Innovation #Technology #SiliconValley #NEU #NEU-SSF #MKTG4983

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Fernanda López

Marketing & Neuroscience Student | Co-Vice President of Northeastern’s WeBuild Incubator | Passion for learning