Marketing Course will Cover all the Bases from Government to Business and Nonprofits

A new summer session course, “Marketing Management in the Government, Business and Nonprofit sectors,” was developed for future leaders in the three sectors as well as marketing practitioners. The course, taught by Constance Rossum, will draw upon case studies and classic articles and give students “hands on” experience.

Rossum says that students will explore why some marketing strategies are successful and why others fail. They will review widely used research methods, focusing on the importance of consumer research as the foundation of effective marketing, and the use of copy testing methods to gauge the effectiveness of advertising before final production and implementation.

“The course will also discuss the growing importance and use of social media as a communication vehicle,” she says. “I hope that students will understand that effective marketing provides and communicates value to the customer both ethically and profitably.”


CMC: Marketing courses are usually connected with business schools. Why do you believe students in the liberal arts, government, leadership and nonprofits can benefit from this study as well?

Rossum: Marketing is communication and communications is the business of anyone who wants to get his message across effectively. This new course was actually suggested by students as a complement to current government and leadership courses. The CEO of any organization is considered a “walking billboard.” President Obama was named “Marketer of the Year” in 2008 by Advertising Age, largely for his ability to connect with various voter segments and his brilliant use of social media. (The Ford Motor Company was chosen as winner in 2010.) BP’s CEO was criticized for his poor crisis management skills following the oil leak. World Vision’s president, Rich Stearns, succeeded in crafting a rationale to wary donors that helped support its new Project Hope AIDS initiative in Africa.

Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management, reminds us that the first responsibility of leaders is to “define the mission and communicate it clearly” to the primary and supporting customers. So, whether you are trying to influence customers to purchase a particular product, vote for a specific candidate or ballot measure, or convince individuals to change their destructive behavior effective marketing skills are needed. Understanding marketing can also make us better consumers and informed citizens.

CMC: What would be some good examples of ethical problems in marketing?

Rossum: There are many questions that lead to interesting discussions. For example, is it “unethical” to market to children (e.g., a toy in a McDonald’s Happy Meal)? Or, is it an extension of the experience parents choose to give their children? Consider that “word-of-mouth,” even among children, is a powerful influencer. Even more, toys, clothing brands and make-up for tween girls are promoted by the users themselves.

It’s an erroneous impression that the “truth in advertising” standard applies to all advertising. While commercial companies are restricted from making false claims about their products or their competition at significant risk, candidates and elected officials are not held to the same standard as their statements and advertisements are considered “political speech” under the protection of the First Amendment. The ethics of marketing a position take on even more complexity when you are trying to sort out the “truth” of the dangers of global warming or the benefits of Obama Care. And as Public Relations has become an increasingly important part of what we call “Integrated Marketing Communications,” how the media presents rival positions significantly affects public perception.

CMC: Is there a big, demonstrable difference in marketing strategies for for-profit companies and non-profit companies, or are the principles the same?

Rossum: The principles are the same so far as effective marketing strategies are research-based, customer-centered, and focus on delivering value. We used to talk about the “4Ps” Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Today, given the importance of the service sector, we recognize three additional “Ps” People, Process and Physical Evidence. All of these are touch points for effective marketing.

CMC: Tell us about your own marketing experiences. Are there successful campaigns with which you have been involved?

Rossum: As an Account Executive at Leo Burnett Advertising, my job was to help introduce “Chicken McNuggets.” Students today do not know of life pre-nugget but it was truly a new product/form that McDonald’s developed and our agency needed to introduce successfully. I tell a lot of behind-the scenes stories in class, including why McNuggets were almost “killed” early on despite their popularity. One I can share is that McRib, not McNuggets, was supposed to be “the star,” but our research indicated that McRib was more an occasional taste and not one we could justify selling daily. Our recommendation then (and one that is still practiced today) was to reintroduce McRib at different times throughout the year for an extra sales bump.

As Director of Marketing for Marriott-Host International, I was part of the team that helped reconfigure airports (we serviced 55 major airports) to improve the food service offerings and merchandising. Our goal was to enhance the airport experience. Over the years, we needed to work around deregulation, embrace the increases in passenger traffic (no longer primarily the business traveler), union issues, security challenges, and the rise and fall of various airlines (e.g., Hello Southwest and Good bye Eastern).

I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to know Peter and Doris Drucker; I was a student of Drucker and he came out of retirement to serve as an advisor on my Ph.D. dissertation, which utilized my work on the Drucker Tool. In 1997, I received the Drucker Management Center’s prestigious Alumni Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurship. My CMC Management and Leadership classes introduce students to Drucker’s “Five Most Important Questions” as a framework for organizational planning and accountability.

I also have very fond memories of working with the late Ruth Fertel (the “Ruth” of Ruth’s Chris Steak House) and her staff in developing their marketing plan. Part of the lessons learned for marketing students is the necessary evolution of a marketing plan as the environment changes.

CMC: Why are Peter Drucker’s Principles of Management so important?

Rossum: I’ll answer this in terms of his “Five Most Important Questions”: What is your business? (mission); Who is your customer? (primary and supporting); What does the customer consider value? (not what you think he ought to value); What have been the results (of the way you have been managing/marketing the enterprise)?; What is the plan? (given the way you/staff/board have answered these questions, what are the next steps?).

Drucker acknowledged that these five questions were “simple but not simplistic,” and that they took a great deal of thought to answer. Consider that before an organization (business, government or nonprofit) develops a business and marketing plan, they need first to have thought through these important questions and gain agreement on each before developing specific programs, products, campaigns.

CMC: In a nutshell, what’s the best bit of instruction you ever received about marketing either on the job or in class?

Rossum: There are several. The first is from a design group with whom I worked: “What the eye perceives, the mind believes.” Next would be the benefit of asking these questions: “For what do we want to be known?”; “What does success look like?”; “How do we organize for success?”; and “How do we know we, in fact, are successful?” Finally, there is Drucker’s definition of Marketing: “To make selling’ superfluous.” If you need a good example, consider AFLAC. The duck opens doors for the field staff who do not have to explain who they are and what they do.


This is the eighth in a series of stories about CMC faculty teaching during the 2011 Summer Session. For additional information on this course, please visit Professor Rossum’s profile page for contact information and office hours.

CMC’s 2011 Summer Session begins May 23rd and will offer both three- and six-week courses, all taught by CMC faculty. A full listing of course offerings will be available on the Summer Session Website.