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Why Professional Marketers Must Support Academia and Students

By Published on .

Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock

Programmatic media. Dynamic ad creation. Blockchains. Virtual reality. Augmented Reality. Chatbots. Artificial Intelligence. I have been in the field of marketing for more than 30 years, and more has changed over the past five years or so than the preceding 20. The kind of changes that technology and data are driving is incredible.

The modern marketer's toolkit has expanded dramatically, and with that, the talent and skill set required to be successful. Not only do you need to be classically trained, you need to be a technologist, a data scientist, a communicator, a financial analyst, a business manager, etc. We are looking for superhuman marketers, and unfortunately there are not enough of them out there today. And that's on us.

We are the leaders of this great field. And it's time we do more to energize and revive our craft. This is why I became an executive champion at the ANA's Educational Foundation, and why I feel strongly that we can do more for our industry by partnering with universities to develop those superhuman marketers of tomorrow.

Successful brands build multigenerational teams that work together with diverse strengths, experiences and expertise. They are not just setting the strategy for next year, but looking beyond to ensure that we are driving the future. As we think about priorities for 2018, marketers must put talent development at the top, following through on these two imperatives to support academia and students in the classroom today.

Put universities on your speaking circuit

As marketing leaders, we are always delivering keynotes and participating in panel discussions at a number of industry events. Take that to the classroom. Connect with your HR recruitment teams and your alma mater. Raise your hand to get involved, and look for those opportunities to visit campus; become a guest lecturer and spend time with the students in the classroom.

From the communications side of the house, one of the most contemporary courses on the syllabus today involves social media and digital communications in business. The best way for students to learn about new tools -- and the innovative ways they are being deployed to improve business operations and reputation -- is to hear directly from the communication professionals using them today.

This is important for the students just as much as it is for your brand. These are valuable interactions that can help with qualified internship leads in the future.

Spend time with professors; invite them to shadow you

Professors shape the theoretical views, themes and ideas that are the foundation of any good marketer's skill set, and help students develop the right mindset, process and approach, regardless of the latest technology. As marketers, we live in the present: putting ideas into action; managing campaigns in real-time; testing and learning with all the new tools and data at our disposal. Building innovative marketers requires efforts on both sides -- the classical theory and contemporary strategy.

Inviting professors to spend time with you and your team will give them a real sense of the behind-the-scenes at work. The marketing profession is evolving in real time. Having professors shadow you for a period of time, or over the course of a campaign, will provide them with a fresh and highly relevant perspective that they can bring back to the classroom.

Talent is our industry's most precious resource. It's an issue that affects and impacts all of us -- marketers and agencies alike. It's most visible when students join our organizations. But what we need to do as an industry is to forge much deeper relationships with academia. I am personally invested in this because I want to give back to my craft, which has given me my bread and butter all these years.

Bottom line: take the time to invest in developing talent and to give back to our beloved profession. Get involved and start today.

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