In a continuation of our blog series featuring higher education leaders, we recently conducted an interview with marketing professor Dr. Jennifer Stoner.
Dr. Stoner is a professor in the Marketing Department of the College of Business and Public Administration at the University of North Dakota, holding a Ph.D. in Marketing-Consumer Behavior and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing.
During her career, Dr. Stoner has contributed to numerous publications and has pursued research in the areas of brand personality and relationships. In our interview, she discusses how she came to love marketing and offers her insights for the future of digital marketing.
1. How long have you been teaching marketing? What made you want to pursue it?
I’ve been a professor for three years now. My dad was a marketing guy, so growing up he would always take me to advertising shoots and sales meetings and to watch consumers in the store, so that is what sparked my interest in marketing. Then while doing my MBA at Wake Forest University I had some faculty members that were really passionate about what they did which made me want to become a professor.
2. What is your favorite course to teach and why?
My favorite course to teach is Brand and Product Management because it is different every semester. I use popular press articles rather than a textbook for that course and update the reading list every year so that students are learning about what brands are doing “now.” I also encourage students to bring in things they see to discuss in class and we will deviate from the syllabus to discuss a current event. Last fall we spent a lot of time discussing the Collin Kaepernick Nike ad – what Nike was doing, how consumers responded, and then later how that was impacting Nike’s metrics. Students like being able to connect things we discuss in class to what they see brands doing outside of the classroom. Having a course that is ever evolving makes each semester interesting for me as well.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourself (education background, any other relevant work experience). What types of organizations are you involved in?
I received a BBA in marketing from the University of Notre Dame, an MBA with a concentration in marketing from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Minnesota.
Prior to receiving my Ph.D., I worked in a marketing role for two different nonprofits as well as in data analytics for a U.S. airline. I’ve been an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota for three years and currently am the Morrison Faculty Fellow there. I am also currently serving as the Vice Chair of Finance and Development for the American Marketing Association’s Consumer Behavior Special Interest Group.
4. What do you consider to be the most important and/or interesting aspect about the current state of marketing?
I think the most interesting/important aspect of marketing is that it is constantly changing and that isn’t something unique about the current state. It has always been the case. There is currently an emphasis on Big Data and technologies such as VR/AR, but it isn’t going to stop there, and marketers have to continue to be watching for what is coming next.
5. What types of research do you do as part of your role? How do you incorporate it into your coursework?
My area of research expertise is in brand relationships and brand personality – how do things that the brand is doing or general trends impact consumers’ perceptions and relationships with a brand? This overlaps nicely with my Brand Management course. Not only do my students actively participate in my research, but I can relate the most cutting-edge research happening in the field to topics that we are discussing in class.
6. With digital marketing changing at such a rapid pace, how do you see marketing being taught differently in the future?
I see marketing courses becoming more and more like internships and less like the traditional lectures of old. We already see this with a greater emphasis on course projects with real clients. For instance, our department’s Social Media course “takes over” the social media of local businesses for six weeks during each semester. This type of experience is invaluable to employers because students already have experience working with the technology and skills that they are going to use in their job.
7. What advice would you give to young marketing professionals?
My advice to young marketing professionals is to never stop learning. Just because you have a degree in hand does not mean that you are done learning about marketing. The exciting thing about marketing is that it is constantly evolving and the marketer’s role will be different several years from now than it is today. Making sure that you understand not only what your role is now, but where it is going in the future will help to ensure that you won’t be left behind.