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Vibes shows leadership in mobile education tie with Chicago?s DePaul University

In a rare collaboration, mobile marketing platform provider Vibes and Chicago?s DePaul University are underway with a unique program to educate undergrads and graduates on the ins and outs of mobile marketing with aims to enlarge the pool of talent available to brands, retailers, agencies and media.

In this Q&A, Steven Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing and Director of the Kellstadt Marketing Center at DePaul University, and Mark Tack, vice president of marketing at Chicago-based Vibes, discuss the focus of the 10-week program, development of mobile-proficient talent, bringing the classroom into work and where mobile is leading marketing.

?We are approaching a time when all types of marketing will be mobile-focused,? Mr. Tack said. 

?We like to think mobile marketing will simply be called marketing in the future because mobile marketing will have become the new reality for reaching and engaging consumers,? he said.

Senior executives from major marketers such as Forrester Research, General Growth Properties, Adobe, Walgreens, Sears, Redbox, Mobile Marketer and Kargo have thrown their weight behind the program. 

Vibes cofounders Jack Philbin and Alex Campbell as well as Mr. Tack have offered their full support in terms of knowledge sharing as well as space to host the class at their office on 300 W. Adams in Chicago.

DePaul?s Dr. Kelly and Vibes? Mr. Tack share their thoughts on the program in this Q&A. Please read on:

It's not often that a marketing service provider works with an academic institution and yet here we are, Vibes partnering with DePaul on a mobile marketing course. What gave rise to this idea? 
Steve Kelly: DePaul puts a lot of emphasis on engaging with the business community via class speakers, projects, etc., in order to provide our students with real-world business perspectives and skills.  

We focus on bringing expert practitioners into our classes so that students can learn from people who are actually involved in what they present to class. Because of that, it was natural for us to reach out to industry leaders to build a mobile marketing program.  

In the spring of 2015,we started formulating the idea of having one of the most important innovations in marketing, mobile, be a part of our curriculum.  

We looked around to see if there was some template to follow for developing a mobile marketing course and found that there was nothing comprehensive being offered. That got us started on creating our own approach. 

DePaul always strives to be out in front of new and emerging marketing practices. 

With the rapid rise of mobile marketing, the Driehaus College of Business at DePaul was compelled to develop a course that would provide a solid foundation for students in this increasingly important area of marketing. 

Since the mobile marketing landscape is continuously evolving, DePaul sought to partner with a company on the cutting edge of mobile marketing that could offer the expertise and resources required to assemble a comprehensive course on this topic. 

As a leader in mobile marketing, Vibes fit this profile exactly. 

Together, DePaul and Vibes have created one of the first accredited college courses on mobile marketing in the Chicago area. 

Mark Tack: The course also was developed to address a serious market need and help bridge the major talent gap in mobile marketing. 

At Vibes, we have the opportunity to create and implement mobile marketing strategies for many Fortune 2000 companies. 

One of the biggest challenges facing our clients is a lack of marketers with experience in mobile marketing who can help them run a successful mobile marketing program. 

Unlike email marketing or digital advertising, where there is no shortage of practitioners, mobile marketing is still relatively new and doesn?t have as deep a talent pool.

A recent Forrester Research Inc. report found that ?the talent that firms need to operate the technology to drive business results is scarce and expensive? and that ?mobile solutions have not yet hit their stride because these mobile solutions ? outpace internal skill sets.? 

These findings underscore the important role educators need to play to help develop the next generation of marketers that can empower companies to capitalize on the needs of their consumers on mobile.

What's the focus of this program? 
Dr. Kelly: All of the topics covered in the class center around what consumers are doing, such as having ?mobile moments,? that keep them connected to brands in a way that no other marketing process has done before. 

Mr. Tack: The course is dedicated to all aspects of mobile marketing. Students learn best practices and the key components of mobile marketing such as strategy, technology, data and business outcomes that will enable them to capitalize on mobile marketing opportunities.

Each week is designed to address an important topic in mobile marketing. Topics include:

? Mobile messaging and compliance
? Mobile wallet marketing and payments
? Mobile personalization, data and CRM
? Mobile websites and experiences
? Mobile advertising
? Apps
? A mobile 2020 outlook, focused on the future of mobile marketing

How is the course structured and who are the speakers?
Dr. Kelly: The speakers were chosen to address each of the topics for each class, with attention to real examples that are being employed by the marketers where they work.  

Using the tenet of experiential learning, which DePaul emphasizes to provide students with practical skills, the students reach out to see if they can find industry experts who address the topics addressed in class. 

Students review the work of those thought leaders and create a glossary of new concepts and definitions.  

Throughout the term, they apply all they have learned to a central project, based on a real brand.  

At the end of the term the students will present their ideas for an appropriate mobile strategy.

Mr. Tack: The course is a 10-week program available to undergraduate and graduate students at DePaul. It?s become a popular course, with nearly 30 students enrolled in the first class. 

In fact, the course was originally slated to take place on campus, but it is now hosted at Vibes? office to accommodate such a large group.

In addition to faculty members Steve Kelly, Ph.D., co-director of the Kellstadt Marketing Center and associate professor of marketing at DePaul [and Mr. Tack, also an adjunct professor at DePaul], the course features an impressive lineup of industry experts from notable organizations, such as Forrester Research, General Growth Properties, Adobe, Walgreens, Sears, Redbox, Mobile Marketer and Kargo. 

Forrester Research principal analyst Julie Ask speaking at the DePaul/Vibes mobile marketing class

Key executives from Vibes are also participating, including Vibes cofounders Alex Campbell and Jack Philbin, who started Vibes 18 years ago when they were finishing college. 

Based on what they have learned from these experts, students will develop their own practical marketing programs for a leading retailer or brand.

The program?s target is both undergrads and graduate students. How would you approach each group's requirements separately? Or is it a single approach?
Dr. Kelly: The course is part-undergrads and part-grad students who are either MBA or masters in analytics candidates. 

The assignments will be structured the same but the level of rigor and complexity will be expected to be higher from the graduates.  

For undergraduates, demonstrating knowledge of the concepts and focusing on mobile tactics will be expected.  

Graduate students usually demonstrate higher-level writing and analytical skills, so they are asked to do more extensive secondary research on the topics discussed in class.  

We expect that the graduates will have a more strategic, less tactical, approach to their term project.  

How key is knowledge of mobile marketing to the effectiveness of current corporate strategizing?
Dr. Kelly: It is hard to believe that mobile strategy is not on the agenda of every marketer. 

The fact that only a minority of corporations is going into mobile full throttle is surprising.  

In the industry, it?s often said that ?the whole world is either asleep or connected? and ?if you aren?t incorporating mobile into your strategy, don?t worry, your competitor is.? These comments are the direct result of the mobile mindset that is taking over the world. 

Mr. Tack: We are approaching a time when all types of marketing will be mobile-focused. 

We like to think mobile marketing will simply be called marketing in the future because mobile marketing will have become the new reality for reaching and engaging consumers.

In the opening class, we conducted an informal survey that demonstrates why every marketer needs to develop expertise in mobile marketing. 

We asked the students, ?What is the best method for companies to grab your attention?? The options were computer, direct mail, television, print magazine or newspaper, billboard or mobile phone. 

The answer was unanimous for all 28 students in the class: the mobile phone. 

This finding highlights that marketers need to be targeting current and prospective consumers on smartphones above all others.

Why the choice of Vibes and DePaul as partners? Will Vibes source some of the students for future positions within the company?
Dr. Kelly: In the end, our students get to be the first DePaul marketing students to graduate with an in-depth course on what will be the main driving force in the future of marketing.

Mr. Tack: It?s a match between two entrepreneurial organizations that have a shared passion for shaping the future of marketing and delivering innovation. 

DePaul and Dr. Kelly should be lauded for having the vision to create one of the first mobile marketing courses in Chicago that is part of university curriculum. 

Vibes also shares those same characteristics of being at the forefront. 

Vibes will definitely source students for future positions. 

We think of it like a minor league training program not just for Vibes, but for all companies that need to hire mobile practitioners to succeed in this new era of marketing. 

Are current university marketing programs cognizant of mobile's role in corporate and consumer decision-making?
Dr. Kelly: Usually mobile is placed inside a curriculum called digital marketing or IMC (integrated marketing communications). 

Nationally, hot topics like social media, content marketing and even predictive analytics were not brought into some university?s curricula as soon as the business press began discussing them. This is partly due to the fact that it takes resources to hire experts with credentials in the field.  

Also, universities in urban areas, like DePaul, can more easily reach out to professional resources to help out.  

Offering up-to-date marketing curricula requires ?champions? in the university. Limiting expansion of the mobile curriculum is the fact that there are no PhDs yet in mobile marketing.  

The way DePaul?s Driehaus College of Business resolved this was to create professor/professional expert team and then to reach out to an excellent cohort of marketing practitioners to bring the curriculum to the students.

Mr. Tack: DePaul certainly believes in and understands mobile?s role in the consumer decision-making process. 

The demand and interest for a mobile marketing-focused course is accelerating for colleges and universities across the nation, and we expect courses on this topic to become a core component of marketing curriculum in the near future. 

Anything else you'd like to add?
Dr. Kelly: [Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst] Julie Ask and her co-authors provided an excellent model in their book ?Mobile Mind Shift? around which to build our mobile philosophy. 

We are also indebted to [business publication] Mobile Marketer for providing the wealth of real-life examples of mobile marketing being employed by more and more companies. 
Our goal has been to combine our energies and resources between the academic and professional world. 

Our students learn better, are exposed to a more diverse array of experts and get to practice and implement what they have learned.

Mr. Tack: The class uses Twitter as a real-time discussion thread to share key findings on mobile marketing. 

During our first class, led by Julie Ask from Forrester Research, there was engagement from Berlin, Germany; Oslo, Norway; the U.K.; and elsewhere around the world. Pretty remarkable for a class taking place in Chicago. Follow along at @DepaulVibes.

Another thing to add is our selection process for guest speakers. 

We wanted to invite industry leaders who have been in the industry since its inception and who are highly passionate about the impact mobile has on marketing and society as a whole. 

Naturally, we?re thrilled for the students to have the opportunity to learn from Mobile Marketer?s Mickey Alam Khan. 

Most digital marketers subscribe to daily newsletters from Mobile Marketer and are well aware of the impact that the publication has had on the industry. 

Mickey will be the perfect capstone speaker to talk about the 2020 outlook of the mobile marketing landscape with Vibes CEO Jack Philbin, who was named the Mobile Evangelist of the Year by Mobile Marketer in 2013.

May 16: Week VIII: Topic 8: Mobile 2020 Outlook
A futuristic look at where mobile is going with wearables, location/proximity-based (beacons, GPS) and the future of personalization, especially mobile wallets. Special attention to the impact on retail, consumer packaged goods and business-to-business marketers.  

Mickey Alam Khan, founder/CEO and editor in chief, Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily
Jack Philbin, cofounder/CEO of Vibes