In Spring 2017, Andrew Garberson, the Pittsburgh-based digital marketer and seasoned Google Adwords trainer, is working with the latest generation of students in Chatham’s Business & Entrepreneurship Department to prepare for innovative careers in the newly emerging field of Digital Marketing. Mr. Garberson is accomplishing this objective by teaching Chatham’s BUS 496 Digital Marketing course. Mr. Garberson is one of Chatham’s newest adjunct professors. His full-time position entails leading the Digital Marketing Strategy Department at LunaMetrics, a leading digital marketing and web analytics consultancy firm based in Pittsburgh.
This is the first time that this Digital Marketing course has been officially offered at Chatham. Previously, Professor Rachel Chung has offered Digital Marketing as a special topics course, and as part of an MBA course. The course is a requirement for all Marketing majors and serves as a capstone course for some Business majors. Mr. Garberson, who has led digital marketing efforts in a variety of settings, including agency, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit environments, seeks to make his course mirror the real world of digital marketing in a multitude of ways.
Professor Garberson recruited four non-profit organizations to serve as clients for student projects. All are based in Pittsburgh, and directly and meaningfully impact the lives of at-risk communities in Western Pennsylvania and around the world. Nonprofit grants from Google provide $10,000 per month in advertising credit to each of the organizaions. Students worked with the nonprofit teams, most completely new to the Google program, to learn about organizational initiatives and identify priorities. In class, students designed advertising campaigns from keyword through conversion, helping organizations help their stakeholders.
According to Mr. Garberson, LunaMetrics uses a heuristic approach with the firm’s clients, and that same mentality has been used in class. Students taking Mr. Garberson’s class work directly with these organizations in the community, learning digital marketing while simultaneously helping others in the process. At work, Mr. Garberson creates value for clients by helping them utilize data in innovative ways to illuminate the bridge between marketing, user behavior, and ROI. He is internationally recognized as a cutting-edge digital marketing expert, and frequently presents at marketing conferences in the U.S. and internationally. In the past, he’s been asked to present in places from Florida and Seattle, to California and London. And this year, he’s scheduled to travel to San José, Seattle, Tampa, and Germany for similar presentations. During his talks, he typically speaks to the value of Google Analytics, conversion optimization, and search engine optimization in improving the bottom line for organizations both big and small. Just as he does to fellow professionals during conferences, Mr. Garberson emphasizes when teaching at Chatham just how important mastering these digital strategies are to the students in his class hoping to procure a full-time position in the marketing industry.
Mr. Garberson was drawn towards teaching digital marketing at the university level to help “shorten the learning curve” for the next generation of marketers. Mr. Garberson maintains that “most of us had to teach ourselves [these digital marketing strategies] because this type of hands-on experience was not available in universities. Just think about how having this priceless digital advertising experience changes someone’s first job interview. Instead of saying ‘yeah, I learned about digital marketing,’ these students can say, ‘I generated a 8:1 return on ad spend with $10,000 in the first half of 2017.’” And to Mr. Garberson, the change between those two answers can make all the difference when it comes to getting hired after graduation.
Many students in the course had great things to say :
“The Digital Marketing course was a great way to learn through experience a real world digital marketing job. Working closely with real nonprofit organizations made it more than just a class we get a grade for. We were helping them improve their visibility, which was very rewarding. During the process of helping our clients, we also come to understand a wide range of up and coming digital resources.” – Courtney Noal, BA Arts Management ’19.
“In today’s competitive job market, it isn’t enough just to have a degree; you must also have hands-on experience one cannot receive from just reading a book. Digital Marketing provides students an opportunity to utilize knowledge gained in a classroom setting and apply it in a real-world application. By pairing up with a local non-profit organization, students are able to help revitalize and reinvigorate their partner organizations’ online presence, enabling them to see an uptick in both awareness and donations. Having this kind of course allows students to stand apart from their peers, and opens doors that were previously closed to new graduates seeking their first job out of college.” – Ryan Bunker, BA Management, ’17
“Google Adwords, email, and social media marketing are some of the aspects of marketing covered in class. Prior to this course, I didn’t have the skills to differentiate between different digital marketing tools. This course provided me with the skills, tools, and techniques needed to have a better understanding of the world of digital marketing.” – Baiyinah Brookins, BA Management, ’17
Mr. Garberson and his Digital Marketing course help Chatham students and, on a more macro-level, the marketing industry gain an influx of professionals who are both experienced and energized about working within the digital space. The new Digital Marketing course at Chatham is one of several new courses that are being added to the Business curriculum that prepare students for the 21st century job market with highly sought-after tech skills.