October 3, 2009

Business Or Marketing?

There remains a great divide between business teachers and marketing teachers. People not in our field rightfully wonder, what the heck is the difference? Our state's Department of Education recently realized that there was so much overlap between business education and marketing education that they combined these two fields into one license. But it wasn't always that way.

Business Education

The business education license was for what we traditionally think of as vocational education. These teachers taught things like keyboarding, office procedures, accounting, computer applications, and finance.

Marketing Education

Teachers licensed in this area taught marketing & sales, and ran our school stores.

Business and Marketing Education / Career and Technical Education

Within the last five years, Federal legislation changed Vocational Education to Career and Technical Education, and our state combined the business and marketing licenses into Business and Marketing Education. Teachers in this new era teach all of the classes taught above, along with disparate subjects such as: A+ certification, computer programming, sports marketing, and work based learning.

The Divide Remains

Despite the new combined license, the divide between business and marketing educators remains, and I can see this very clearly through the organizations I belong to:

DECA is an organization for marketing students that teaches skills such as: sales demonstrations, marketing plans, business plans, public speaking, and employment interviews.

BPA is an organization for business students that teaches skills such as: financial analysis, web site design, economic analysis, and computer networking.

I've been an advisor for chapters of both organizations. It's like the two groups are from different planets. The BPA people are the geeks and the DECA people are the suits. Geeks complain that the suits don't have any technical knowledge, and suits complain that the geeks don't have any business knowledge.

I see myself more as a business guy than a marketing guy. I find the DECA / Marketing crowd rather annoying, to be honest. I'm interested in making things that work, not in pushing products. However, I see the value in both. The business / marketing divide is a religious war of sorts, both groups talking completely past each other, neither bothering to listen to what the other has to say.

It's like this. If everyone was a Linus Trovalds, we'd have great technology but no one would know about it. If everyone was Steve Ballmer, we'd have a bunch of commercials with nothing to actually sell. What we need are more Joel Spolskys. People who can do both.