Rock and Roll Marketing Course for Polytechnic University students

In this case, we share a story about our practical course that was invented and conducted at SPbPU by our marketers - Aleksander Bakharev and Aleksander Klimov.

Why a new approach is needed?

Even a zealous student can hardly explain what he learned in yesterday's class. Back in the 60s, the teacher Edgar Dale showed how much information a person can remember, depending on the form of education.

the pyramid of Dale Earnhardt

After the lecture, the student remembers only 5% of what he heard, while watching the video he will learn 20% of the material, and the immediate application of knowledge in practice gives 90% of success.

The theory will not make a specialist out of a student - practice is what important in marketing. The discipline is aimed at practicing to attract clients and retain them. The main KPI is not "likes" on social networks, but LTV (Lifetime Value) - (profit from one client for a lifetime).

There is no employer who cares how a marketer will achieve results. Flexible skills come in handy in negotiations, an analytical mind when planning a budget, and only luck when agreeing on creatives. As part of the course, we wanted to show students what they will face at work.

How the course works

We approached the problem of education as marketers and described our target audience - third-year students. Most of the problems in our audience are familiar to everyone who was a student:


Learned helplessness is a phenomenon discovered by American psychologist Martin Seligman in 1967 during experiments on dogs. In a state of learned helplessness, we do not feel the connection between effort and result. For example, students receive a lot of knowledge but cannot apply it. As a result, they give up and lose faith in themselves. The problem of learned helplessness can be solved if a person sees the result of his work.

In the course program, we based our education process on the problem-integrated educating method.

  • The problem-based learning method assumes that the students are faced with a problem that they must solve on their own. The teacher should only push for the correct decision. The approach develops creative thinking, self-study, the ability to apply knowledge in practice, and independence.
  • An integrated teaching method implies communication between the students themselves and the teacher. When students listen to lectures or watch YouTube videos, they passively take in information and remember less. The work within the framework of the integrated method may look like this: students complete the task in a team, and then discuss the difficulties and the solution with the teacher.

Faculty of Psychology of St. Petersburg State University Aleksander Bakharev diploma

Thanks to the Faculty of Psychology of St. Petersburg State University for the courses and to the mathematics teacher Anatoly Okunev for his book! They helped create a course that we ourselves would like to take at the university.

We decided to communicate with students in a closed community on the social network "VKontakte". There you can send messages in private on behalf of the group, you can conduct polls, discuss other works and publish useful content.

Grade table

Rules of the game

Tasks were assessed on a point system - to be admitted to the exam, students need to score 300 points.

We also set a deadline and punishments for breaking them. If the deadline was missed, the task score was multiplied by 0.5. Replies were accepted through Google Forms, which made it easier to check if deadlines were met - time was automatically noted in Google Sheets. Students could see the grades of their groupmates in the table - this appeared as an element of gamification.

Table of students

This is how the final list of assignments with student grades looks like.

In the matter of motivating students, we relied on Vroom's theory of expectations. The theory is based on the premise that the presence of an active need is not the only motivation. An important condition is the expectation of a person that the type of behavior chosen by him and the actions taken will actually lead to getting what he wants.

The first three places on the list received two additional points on the exam, the next seven - one point, the next seven - half of a point. In total, 17 people from a group could receive the award. The students realized that their chances were high, so they were motivated to compete for these points.

The rating approach has been criticized by many people. They say that it damages students' self-esteem. But the self-esteem of young professionals usually suffers at the first serious job, after the very first harassment from the bosses. We decided that students should learn to accept criticism now. And let the boss break off, who in the future decides to assert himself at their expense!

Examples of tasks

At the first seminar, students were given a task: to come up with their own startup. They worked on this project throughout the course. They were more responsible for what they did than for standard assignments (thanks to Dan Ariely for the TED talk).

And in order to come up with tasks, we highlighted the hard and soft skills necessary for a marketing specialist.

soft skills

hard skills

Typing groupmates

The students studied the theory of psychological types from marketers Evgenia Gromova and Marina Gerasimova. Students filled out a questionnaire in which they indicated their psycho type and rated 10 other people from their class. This task helped to kill several birds with one stone:

  • The students put the theory into practice immediately after studying.
  • It turned out that they made a list of opinion leaders of the group - these students were chosen for typing more often than others. We also identified their psycho types.
  • A table has been made, which shows what psycho type is assigned to the student by fellow students and himself.
  • Using Affinity Propagation and t-SNE, the group was divided into clusters. It appeared so because, in the beginning, people chose their friends.
  • There was a demonstration of the powerful Python for data analysis.
  • The shortcomings of the theory of psycho types and were analyzed.

Clusters of students

Clusters of students

Psycho types of students

Public speaking

Students chose a topic from a list and prepared a ten-minute presentation. The speakers could not read from a piece of paper, they had to keep the attention of the audience and interact with the audience - everything was like at a real conference. As a result, we decided to organize a real conference, together with the students, we came up with a concept, title and banner. The meeting was supported by the Polytech marketing club.

SEO experiment

We came up with the nonsensical word "Zirconder" - the search engines did not know it, the search results were empty. Students had to write an article and compete for the first three places in the search results by optimizing their sites and coming up with alternative tools.

Search results

These are the search results.

Case Championship

Students received case studies from Sberbank, Tinkoff, Alfa-Bank, Electra and EXCLAiM. It was necessary to develop a promotion strategy based on several studies. Everything is like in a real marketing job - description of the target audience and super ideas, creating video banners, positioning in social networks. Students made a presentation to the jury - graduates of the Polytechnic University (Yuri Burkov - head of advertising and marketing department of the north-western branch of BEELINE, Inna Tsivina - managing partner of the intellectual Internet marketing agency RE: SPOND) .

The winners of the championship received an offer from companies whose case they were solving. And three more students were invited to work by the members of the jury.

Theory of Mind development training

Theory of Mind contains the concepts of emotional intelligence - empathy. The development of these skills allows you to literally "get into someone else's shoes" and understand what a person is thinking - a very important skill for a marketer. For immersion in the theory, it was proposed to develop training on this topic. Coming up with a "game" yourself is a difficult task, but some students have managed to find an interesting solution.

SPbPU outside class

We played the game of one of the students with the whole group outside in front of the educational building, pulling out the benches from the audience.

Results and outcomes

We foresaw the difficulties and encouraged students to read the book "Think Like a Mathematician" by Barbara Oakley and use the "Pomodoro" method for time management, but who listens to the teachers?

It was really difficult for the students - a lot of homework and tough deadlines. Several people said that this was the biggest workload during their studies.

From the very beginning, we allowed students to sail openly, and they were not used to that. It took a while, and we were able to explain that dumb following instructions did not make sense. Most importantly, the majority of students said that it was all worth it at the end of the semester.

After the exam, a survey was conducted. Although a few people were denied admission, the survey results were very good.

We also asked students to choose the course topics that they liked the most. Thanks to this list, we learned which tasks need to be finalized. For example, few have noted George Kelly's study of personality construct. This is a very important topic, so we need to figure out how to present it to students in the future.




In the end, we would like to say thank you to all the participants in the course. You are great fellows! It was very pleasant to work with you, to participate in heated discussions, to check your work and to see that every day you are getting better at the subject.

Special thanks to Anastasiy Igorevich Klimin, head of the “Marketing” direction of the Great School of Business and Management (GSBM) Polytech Institute of Industrial Management, Economics and Trade, for this opportunity and for teaching us in our student years! And to the rest of the teachers of the now-defunct PIK department, we are grateful to you for your work!