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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2022 Features

Marketing Symposium Connects Students to Industry Experts

By Becky Kramer

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Mad Men created a popular narrative around advertising agency jobs, but working in marketing doesn’t really resemble episodes from the period TV drama.

“We’re not like the Don Draper character,” said Andi Day (’91 Hist.), executive director of Visit Long Beach Peninsula Tourism Bureau and speaker at the Carson College of Business’s inaugural marketing symposium. “We aren’t sitting around in an office all day, thinking up pitches.”

The college launched the symposium in April, giving students a chance to explore marketing careers through networking with industry professionals and hearing about current trends. Over time, the symposium’s goal is to strengthen relationships between the professional marketing community, the college, and students.

The digital age has transformed the industry, amplifying opportunities to reach consumers through social media and digital marketing channels.

“We’ve moved beyond placing an advertisement in Golf Digest, because that’s where our audience is,” said Jeff Joireman, professor and chair of the Department of Marketing and International Business.

However, many marketing fundamentals remain the same, speakers said. That includes understanding the customers’ needs, responding quickly to requests, and helping connect people with brands.

“At the end of the day, marketers are the ones driving growth. We are connecting people with products, services, and experiences,” said Alex Fischer (’13 Intl. Busi.), a Google account executive who chairs the college’s marketing advisory board.

Keeping pace with digital marketing’s rapid changes

The student Marketing Club worked closely with club advisor Kunter Gunasti, assistant professor of marketing, and National Board of Advisors members to design the symposium.

“We held focus groups and sent out surveys to determine what students were most interested in,” said Ryan Orcutt (’22 Entrep., Mktg.), club president. “We used feedback to help craft the sessions.”

Speakers included marketing professionals from nonprofits to the tech industry, and from startups to global corporations.

Tristan Rees, chief technology officer for Armoire, a Seattle-based company that rents out designer women’s clothing, shared advice on how to keep up with digital marketing’s rapidly changing landscape. “Teach yourself to learn new things,” he told students.

Employers value the ability to acquire new skills along with a strong academic foundation, Rees said. Analyzing data is a critical skillset, and advancements in technology have made data accessible to people outside the C-suite, he said.

To keep up with new industry trends, Rees said he listens to podcasts and follows a carefully curated list of business professionals on Twitter.

Values-driven marketing—an upcoming trend

Mady Dewey is the CEO and cofounder of Herd Social, a social media platform that launched in 2021. She talked about how values-driven marketing led to Herd Social’s mission of creating a less toxic online environment, particularly for women.

“Women are particularly sensitive to comparisons on social media,” Dewey said. “We wanted to create a social platform where women felt better when they logged off than when they logged on.”

Instead of featuring social media influencers, Dewey said Herd focuses on ways to create community among people who might actually meet and become friends.

“We’re becoming desensitized to influencers telling us how much they love something,” Dewey said. “But we’re never going to be desensitized to friends giving us a recommendation.”

Charting a path in marketing

Industry professionals also offered tips for starting and growing a marketing career.

“Tell the story as well as you possibly can,” said Paul Warner, digital marketing manager for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman.

Warner draws on his prior news media experience to help share stories about his company’s commitment to integrating renewable energy sources into the power grid.

Professional sales skills are also a plus, said Don Lionetti (’87 Mktg.), a sales director at Microsoft. “Even if you aren’t selling a product or service, you’ll be selling ideas to your boss,” he said.

Lionetti also encouraged students to network with their WSU peers, explaining how he used his Cougar connections during a mid-career job transition. A former fraternity brother worked at Microsoft and was able to provide insights about the company’s hiring process and working there.

“That’s the beauty of the Cougar family; we are there for you,” Day said. “These are people who will help you for the rest of your life.”

The college launched the marketing symposium in April 2022, giving students a chance to explore marketing careers through networking with industry professionals and hearing about current trends.