Graham School News

Learn to See and Think Like a Marketing Professional

Philip Baker

Ideal for professionals who work in marketing or on its periphery—or for someone looking to gain credibility as a marketer within an organization—the Successful Marketing: Basics to New Directions course is an excellent way to go deeper into marketing fundamentals while learning how to attack marketing challenges with a more foundational and systematic methodology.

“It’s designed for marketing professionals without a formal background in marketing,” says Michael Hoffman, instructor for the class and CEO of Gather Voices. “The assignments and material will let students understand the tools and techniques that go into developing successful marketing plans. After five classes, they’ll leave the class knowing something about everything.”

Having spent his early career as a political consultant and as an internet entrepreneur, Hoffman founded See3 Communications, a digital marketing firm, in 2005 as a way to extend his passion for marketing using the power of the web. Now a leading authority in online video for nonprofits and businesses, as well as a longtime consultant to leaders on marketing and constituent engagement strategies, he founded Gather Voices in 2017 as a way to revolutionize how organizations create, collect, manage, and publish video. He started working with the Professional Development Certificates (PDC) earlier this year.

“One goal will be to get students to begin seeing and thinking as marketers,” says Hoffman. “From ads on Instagram to a poster you might see commuting to work, I’d like them to appreciate what it’s like to see everything through a lens that has them asking, ‘Who’s that for? What’s it doing? Why did they decide on that message?’”

"It’s really about being able to think critically about marketing. If you can understand who an ad’s audience is and what it’s doing and why they’ve chosen this particular message and modality, that’s when you’ve really begun to think like a marketer."

During this fast-paced introductory course, which is a requirement to complete the certificate in Digital Marketing and Integrated Communications, Hoffman focuses on the unique blend of art and science that allows marketers to help businesses and organizations achieve their goals. Students learn about everything from purchasing behavior to product development as they analyze real marketing problems and develop strategies to compete successfully in today's challenging marketplace.

“I think it’s also important that the course has more of a focus on digital,” adds Hoffman. “I want the students to understand the impact digital has had on marketing. Even if much of the methodology stays the same, the move to web and mobile has had deep and important effects on customer behavior.”

In addition to ensuring the class is up-to-date, Hoffman will ask students to be attentive to examples of marketing they encounter in their daily lives. Each week, he asks students to bring an example of a piece of marketing that has caught their eye. Then, by using tools and methodologies they have learned in class, they will reverse engineer it to understand how it works and what its purpose is.

“It’s really about being able to think critically about marketing,” he says. “If you can understand who an ad’s audience is and what it’s doing and why they’ve chosen this particular message and modality, that’s when you’ve really begun to think like a marketer. The class will give students the techniques and methodologies to begin doing that in the most up-to-date way.”