Our next interviewee for our blog series featuring higher education industry leaders is Ellen Daniels of the College of Business Administration at Kent State University.
Professor Daniels has years of industry experience working for Ernst & Young, as well as Loos Edwards & Sexauer Advertising. She also holds roles as the Director of Communications and District Manager, along with other consulting positions.
Regarding academia, Professor Daniels teaches courses covering a wide range of marketing and sales topics. In addition to educating, she serves as a faculty sales coach and judge, while also advising Pi Sigma Epsilon.
In our piece, Professor Daniels offers an insightful opinion on the current state of marketing and where she believes the field to be heading. Give it a look!
1. How long have you been teaching marketing? What made you want to pursue it?
I have been teaching marketing courses since fall semester, 1988. After speaking to a marketing course, I was invited by the professor to apply for an adjunct professor position. I sent in my resume and was hired to teach a marketing logistics course that fall!
2. What is your favorite course to teach and why?
Professional Selling (formerly Personal Selling) is one of my favorites because it attracts a lot of non-majors. As one of the objectives is to teach students how to communicate better, I feel it provides some important life lessons while delivering usable skills. These students are interviewing for jobs and can use their class knowledge to perform better. That is very rewarding to me.
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 Bachelor of Music degree from Baldwin-Wallace University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Kent State University. I have worked for a variety of non-profit and profit entities like Ernst & Young and J. Walter Thompson Advertising. I am the faculty advisor for Pi Sigma Epsilon, a business fraternity open to all students that focuses on sales, marketing and business management. I am a member of the Richfield Village Parks & Recreation board as well.
4. What do you consider to be the most important and/or interesting aspect about the current state of marketing?
The most important aspect is ethics. Sales and marketing practitioners deal with persuading people to buy or become interested in their products or services. The news is full of companies like Purdue Pharma that appear to have deliberately marketed a product that could produce drug addicts. This company and its owners are being blamed for causing the current opioid epidemic. Cigarette and liquor companies have traditionally been blamed for persuading youth to try their products, which can also cause addiction. We teach our sales courses to reflect relationship-based selling which relies on trust. Good ethical behavior forms the foundation for trust between companies.
Today, it is relatively easy to use social media irresponsibly. Salespeople and marketers need to have a good handle on what is ethical.
5. What types of research do you do as part of your role? How do you incorporate it into your coursework?
I am currently working on a research paper, but it is in its early stages and I cannot share its title. Other research is more unscientific—discussions with students that will shape upcoming classes. I also ask students to reflect on what they have learned in class and offer suggestions on course improvement. To me, that provides “research” as well.
6. Where do you feel the future of marketing, particularly digital, is heading?
I think advertising, as part of marketing, will become more invasive and intrusive. Our personal data is already available to companies who mine that data for advertising and marketing purposes. It is impossible to block all of it. I imagine that some company will develop a way to make e-selling and e-buying safer, but I am concerned about all of the identity theft and misinformation that the internet makes possible.
As a career marketer, I am also concerned with the heavy emphasis on online purchasing and the disappearance of brick and mortar stores. Communication is a key element to a sale, yet we are bypassing human interaction by purchasing online. Salespeople provide an important service by explaining product benefits and uses, yet today many buyers rely upon online ratings to make a decision. Many consumers don’t realize that those ratings can be manipulated.
One of the quotes I share with my classes is: “I fear the day when technology will take the place of human interaction. We will have produced a generation of idiots.” by Albert Einstein. We have a lively discussion about that one!
7. With digital marketing changing at such a rapid pace, how do you see marketing being taught differently in the future?
We already incorporate digital marketing information into our basic sales class and our marketing department offers a digital marketing course. I am sure we will have more.
8. What advice would you give to young marketing professionals?
Find a good mentor when you start your career. Try to work at as many internships as you can to discover what you enjoy doing. Don’t be afraid to change your career path! “Find your passion. Let it write your story.” – (as seen at the College of Nursing at KSU).