Marketing honours students get digital savvy

Posted on December 14, 2020

This year, the two facilitators for the Marketing in Practice module both came from practice. It was a first for all and the excitement was tangible on 5 February 2020, when they had the opportunity to meet the Marketing Management honours class of 2020.
 
The focus of the module was to get students to work with real marketing challenges in the digital marketing space. The aim of the digital marketing part of the module was to generate traffic and create sales in an e-commerce space. Furthermore, they also focused on the personal and professional development of the students to challenge and equip them to better understand themselves, manage their own development and be valuable team members. 
 
The team responsible for this module consisted of two individuals. Firstly, a former master’s degree student of the Department and an entrepreneur, business owner and influencer, Michelle du Plessis. She gave the students the opportunity to work hands-on with her business, Macaroon Collection (https://macarooncollection.co.za). This e-commerce business gave our students the opportunity to practice their digital marketing knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. A former member of the Department, now an independent contractor, Dr Gené van Heerden, was the second member of this team.
 
 
The lecturing team, Gené van Heerden and Michelle du Plessis
 
The students were challenged to not only become active team players and produce high quality work, but to spend time to understand who they are and what they can bring to the world of work. The lecturing team’s focus was to bring the reality of a changing landscape, the dynamic nature of the customer and the importance of knowing yourself to this learning experience. No one could have predicted what would happen this year and although it was planned to challenge the students to get comfortable with the discomfort of a fast-changing digital space, COVID-19 elevated this idea to another level. Both the lecturers and the students had to adapt, be flexible and make it work together. 
 
The digital nature of the module provided a wonderful platform for the lecturers to encourage students to embrace the changes and equip themselves to function and deliver in this space. “We were humbled by the energy, engagement and enthusiasm our students demonstrated when they had to move completely online to attend classes, meet and work in teams, and complete their assignments. Together we tried to work and challenge each other to do better with each assignment,” says van Heerden
 
Various digital marketing and personal and professional development topics were explored during the year. Students were expected to work individually and in teams and, due to the fact that the client was closely involved with the students, the opportunity presented itself to get deeper insights from the company and review some of the actuals (financials and metrics) as part of the learning experience.
 
The digital marketing component of the module included topics like the social media landscape, social media marketing research, campaign creation and email marketing, social etiquette, content creation, copyright and the social media legal environment, influencer marketing and digital marketing metrics.
 
Personal and professional development included topics like CV writing and interview skills, LinkedIn profiles, community engagement, ‘Why Me’ videos and a reflective video.
 
A number of guest speakers were invited to address the students. First, Liezl van der Westhuizen as an influencer, media and marketing professional; second, an influencer PR company KDT Comms; and third, a content creator photographer, Anje van Daalen from MadisonAndWest Lifestyle Photography.
 
Anje van Daalen from MadisonAndWest Lifestyle Photography
 
In the end the students produced high quality exam projects that not only met the lecturers’ expectations, but left them with the knowledge that they have met the outcomes of this module and have managed to do so under very difficult circumstances. The exam consisted of three parts. Firstly, the students had to combine all the work done over the year into a final digital marketing strategy aimed at their respective target audiences. Secondly, they had to produce a “Why Me” video to communicate why they would be a good fit for a future employer. Lastly, students had to produce a video – giving them the opportunity to reflect on their honours learning journey and provide evidence of their personal and professional growth throughout this year.
 
During the last class, the lecturers took the opportunity to appreciate the students for the resilience they illustrated and quality of work they produced. The students ended the session with comments such as “thank you for an incredible year”; “thank you for an awesome year”; “thanks for a great year”; “loved this module”; and “thank you to our lecturers as well for the support and effort!”
 
The honours class of 2020 will be remembered and celebrated for being a group that not only took on the challenge of the digital space, but embraced it and made the most of their learning experience. We are proud 
- Author Department of Marketing Management
Published by Nonkululeko Kubeka Moyo

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