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The Future of Marketing is Digital: Why HEC Montreal Needs Mandatory Digital Marketing Classes for All University Marketing Students

Hand pointing to a box written "Digitial Marketing". That box is surrounded by different branches of digital marketing like "content", "product", "branding" and others, which emphasises the importance of mandatory marketing classes in university.

As a marketing student myself, I often asked myself while sitting through a very boring mandatory class that had nothing to do with marketing: “Why is this course mandatory?” What I did not expect to tell myself while sitting through an optional digital marketing class is: “Why do we not have mandatory digital marketing classes?” After all, we have entered a new era of marketing, where everything has become digital. When I talked to the marketing vice-president at a global company, they made it very clear that if you do not know what SEOs are, or how to use Google Analytics, or have no idea what digital marketing (or its importance) is, you will not succeed in marketing. Why? Because you will not be able to bring your company to the next level.

Why is Digital Marketing so Important?

So, I ask again, why does HEC not have mandatory digital marketing classes for all marketing students? It becomes clear with the rise of AI and digital use that digital marketing is the future of marketing. Therefore, why is it not mandatory yet? In this article, I will try to explain why it needs to be a mandatory marketing course if students wish to succeed in the real marketing world.

In this domain, the most important thing to consider is the client, and especially their needs. How will your product satisfy – or even create – a need? For a long time, door-to-door sales, newspaper ad slots, or putting your product on a billboard were the go-to marketing techniques.

Now, do not get me wrong, these marketing techniques are still used, and they do work. However, a company that limits itself to only using traditional marketing risks losing all competitive advantage against their competitors. After all, “in order to remain competitive, companies are forced to exploit [digital marketing], which essentially can bring huge benefits at low costs” (Loredana, 2016). What more could a company want than to satisfy their clients’ needs, generate profits, all at a lower cost?

The Reality of HEC Montreal Marketing Students

University students around a table discussing digital marketing using computers, tablets, and phones.

At HEC Montreal, the mandatory marketing classes are about sales, and simulations, and understanding your client and their needs. As for digital marketing, it is an optional course. Therefore, to begin getting an idea of the amplitude and the importance of such marketing, you must choose to do this class yourself, and only then can you start learning the basics.

Despite taking a digital marketing class myself, even now, close to the end of the semester, I have not even begun to grasp the concept of digital marketing. What I have learnt so far is that it is being used constantly, and it is the difference between a customer choosing to buy from your company or from your competitor. I am not saying that the reason I have not grasped the concept is because I do not listen in class. Quite the contrary actually. The reason is because digital marketing is so vast and complicated that it is hard for someone to understand everything with only a few classes.

Nevertheless, understanding the importance of digital marketing is crucial. The reason it is so important is because with “the evolution of social networks and the growing ease of accessing the internet, opportunities to create contact links between brands and their consumers have become increasingly more plentiful, more direct, and simpler” (Moreira et al., 2021), which can help increase sales rapidly, as well as understanding your clients’ needs and wants faster.

Mandatory Digital Marketing Classes – Key to Success

Schools need to emphasize the importance of teaching this subject, as it can be the determining factor between success and failure. In fact, a company that fails to adapt to the rapid changes in the marketing world is unlikely to succeed. If the new entrants in the job market – the graduating university students – lack proficiency in this type of marketing, they will not achieve the success they should or are expected to. Professionals in the marketing field have told me that individuals with a background in digital marketing (i.e. students who have taken the two digital marketing classes offered by HEC Montreal (which are optional classes, may I add)) are prioritized because they require less training and can contribute more rapidly to the company’s effectiveness.

It’s Time to Add Mandatory Digital Marketing Classes to the Curriculum

So why not change the curriculum at HEC to make digital marketing a mandatory class, so that every marketing student may enter the workforce with a general knowledge of this kind of marketing? This way, when they enter the market, they will not be left to fend for themselves. They will have a small but important background that will enable them to ask the right questions in order to better answer the demands of the company and the market.

Digital marketing is too important now to be left on the side. Curriculums need to change to adapt to the new realities of the marketing world. And it is important for them to understand that they need to give the proper tools to the students who enter the market. Companies expect them to have a general knowledge of how their company can benefit from digital marketing such as “influencer marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), product management, e-commerce marketing, content marketing, campaign marketing, and social media marketing, social media optimization, direct e-mail marketing, [and] display advertising” (Das, 2019) when they graduate. So why not give students the proper tools to help them succeed by offering a course that they will benefit from in their professional life?

References

Das, J. (2019). Digital marketing: A critical review on its advancement and evolution. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation23(6), 176–180. https://doi.org/10.37200/IJPR/V23I6/PR190754

Moreira, I., et al. (2021). Do digital influencers successfully contribute to reducing the gap between customers and companies ? Brazilian Business Review, 18(6), 662‑678. https://doi.org/10.15728/bbr.2021.18.6.4

Loredana, P. (2016). Inbound Marketing – The Most Important Digital Marketing Strategy. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series V : Economic Sciences, 9(58)(2). https://doaj.org/article/bf283841901b4ee1917803fbf58e7172

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