Professor Bjerre expands, “Markets are very dynamic, so one of the key elements that I impress upon the students is that just because you did a market analysis half a year ago, won’t mean that you understand the market as it is today. Current, on-the-ground insight is vital.” And right now, the market is shifting more quickly than ever before. “Since 2020 and the pandemic, society has changed rapidly and this impacts marketing strategy tremendously,” continues Professor Bjerre. As a result, it’s vital to teach executives in a more agile way rather than by rote or with a one-size-fits-all approach – and the trip to Chicago helps to put all of this into perspective.
The trip to Chicago presents EMBA executives the latest academic knowledge and a chance to develop their own strategies. “Participants get a very hands-on experience,” Professor Bjerre explains, “and the visit to Northwestern University in Chicago gives them an opportunity to gain some real-world application. They develop a go-to-market strategy and plan for a product or service that is not currently for sale in Chicago. The choice of educational location is very deliberate as the marketing department there is one of the strongest in the world.
“In addition to the university education, we also visit advertising agencies while in Chicago,” Professor Bjerre continues. “A highlight includes time with a local internet marketing expert. This provides participants with an opportunity to really dig down into the ‘how’ by exploring the most recent developments. We’ve used his expertise for the past eight or nine years and we’ve expanded his time slot every year. The students really love him, he’s fantastic.”
For Professor Bjerre, an important lesson is to gain an understanding not only of the market, but also of the dynamics in the market and the total supply chain. “From my teaching perspective I’m always thinking of how I can make hooks into some of the other courses on the EMBA,” Bjerre says.
This approach enables participants to get a solid understanding of the ‘why’. As Professor Bjerre explains, “Asking why people buy from you, but also why marketing is important in your organisation and how it all fits together is really important. And then,” he adds, “You might say that we address the ‘what’ through the strategies the participants create.
Language of marketing
One of Professor Bjerre’s main objectives with this course is for participants to become comfortable with real-world terminology. “The goal is for participants to have qualified, informed and valuable discussions with the marketing department within their organisations,” Professor Bjerre says. “A thorough understanding all the basic elements will hopefully help them to challenge the marketing people in their organisations and make considered, strategic decisions.”
One of the other major insights that participants take away from the US trip is how complex a skill it really is. As Professor Bjerre says, “They’re thrown right into the deep end while in Chicago, being tasked with marketing and selling products directly from a B2C and B2B perspective. And through our collaborations, participants can connect with corporations that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
“Participants come back with an enriched understanding of the difference between American business logic and Danish/European business logic. This insight helps reveal elements in their own organisation that may require repositioning.”
“Because sometimes when you see somebody who’s different from you, you learn a lot about yourself. And that’s really my pedagogical tool here, by exposing participants to different logics, this enhances their understanding of different methods and empowers them moving forwards.”