School is a product

Welcome back avid readers, and by avid readers I mean Brad's parents (you guys are the real MVPs!). I am a marketing major, which believe me is a shock to literally almost EVERYONE, and just the other day my friends said "We always pegged you as an HR gal". Anyway someone said to me pretty recently "School is a product" which got me thinking...

As students we are often at the hands of our institution, certain professors teach certain classes (it's unavoidable), some classes are offered once a year, others once every two years, and some offered multiple times a semester. Now start thinking about individual classes, the content, the reading, the course load, tests etc. How much of this is out of our control? most people would say "all of it". But if we're really thinking about it, our entire educational experience should be in our hands.

Why? Because just like buying food at the grocery store, we are paying for it. However, unlike buying food at the grocery store, school is so much more expensive. And so it shocks me every time I hear about a professor who doesn't care enough to provide what their students are asking, or believes that as a professor they don't have to take into consideration what we think. 

Aside from our own individual experiences with a product or service, we make assumptions about a product or service based upon the brand and other people's experience. So picture this: pretend you're a consumer looking to try some new ketchup and your friend just bought a new bottle of the original Heinz ketchup and your other friend just tried Heinz organic ketchup (this isn't product placement, I didn't get paid to say this) they're both the exact same price and come in the same quantities and so you're asking them what they think. Your friend who has tried the original kind says "well it's just okay, the taste is eh, the texture is eh, and the sugar content is a little high" and your friend who has just tried Heinz organic ketchup begins to rave "the texture is smooth, the salt content is low (but you can't tell!) it tastes AMAZING! and it's good for you". Now knowing what you know, which ketchup do you purchase?  

Obviously, you chose Heinz organic. If you didn't, go reread that paragraph until you make the right decision. Now considering that word of mouth can often sway a consumer, what is it that makes institutions and more specifically professors at an institution believe that once they have students registered that they are immune to us deciding to transfer? What is it that makes them believe that if we are unhappy we won't tell our friends? What is it that makes them think that word of mouth won't happen? This is when I really begin to wonder if those who work in marketing have thought this through at all. 

Now as a marketing student I know for a FACT that once a product is bought or a service is completed that is not the end of our story. We have to follow through, we have to address customer complaints, we have to address the fact that our product or service is not always excellent and we NEED to adjust. You don't need to be a marketing major to know this, just need to have a little bit of common sense. So like I said up top it really makes me wonder why professors and post-secondary institutions are afraid of the commentary, and why they are so afraid to adjust? Wouldn't you rather students spoke their minds, you changed what you needed to, and get amazing word of mouth? Wouldn't you rather students were genuinely happy to be in your university or class?

So this isn't a rant, this isn't me hating on the University of Lethbridge (believe me I love my school) I just wanted to take a marketing perspective on school and why we always need to be keeping our customers i.e. the students happy :) 

Till next time, 

A slightly disorganized, and clearly very passionate marketing major