The next professor we interviewed for our blog series is Dr. Ana Babic Rosario from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. Dr. Babic Rosario holds a master’s and a Ph.D. in marketing and teaches courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Denver.
In addition to academia, she has received numerous university-wide and international fellowships. Her research centers around electronic word of mouth and online social interaction. Dr. Babic Rosario’s research has been published in the Journal of Marketing Research while also being presented at many conferences.
In our interview, she shares findings from her research and offers insightful advice for young professionals. Let’s take a look!
1. How long have you been teaching marketing? What made you want to pursue it?
I have been teaching marketing since 2007. Funnily enough, I thought my teaching engagement was going to be a brief academic stint to gain work experience before getting an MBA and venturing off into the corporate world, but as it so happened, I fell in love with academia and decided to pursue a Ph.D. instead.
Ever since the Intro to Marketing course I took as an undergrad and a “marketing diary” assignment that required recognizing marketing in the daily life, I’ve considered marketing to be part of everything humans do: the way we dress, present ourselves, share our ideas, ask for help and resources… Because we are social animals, and interactions are crucial. Understanding how to interact well with the audience in mind is the key to good marketing.
2. What is your favorite course to teach and why?
I enjoy teaching Introduction to Marketing and busting some common myths in the first weeks. For example, marketing is not the same as advertising. I also enjoy hearing from students about all the different ways in which they can apply marketing principles on a daily basis. For instance, how to craft a message differently depending on the target market. Regardless of their major and desired career, they can apply this to be better communicators—e.g., they would (should!) speak differently with a peer vs. a recruiter.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourself (education background, any other relevant work experience). What types of organizations are you involved in?
I was born and raised in Croatia. After my undergraduate (major: economics and management, minor: marketing) and MBA in marketing, I completed a Ph.D. in marketing at HEC Paris in France. I joined the University of Denver in 2016.
I speak several languages (English, Croatian, and Spanish daily). During my studies, I interned for nonprofit organizations in Miami, FL and Vienna, Austria. My daily activities are in the education industry; however, I also enjoy consulting and working with a variety of companies, big and small, on student-led projects. Most recently, I worked with Sean Swarner, a multiple cancer survivor and inspirational speaker, on his social media strategy.
4. What do you consider to be the most important and/or interesting aspect about the current state of marketing?
Marketing remains crucial in everything individuals and companies do. Strategically, I do not believe this will change. Tactically, we need to rethink how marketing is done as well as how consumers make decisions. With the proliferation of technological advances, social media, and consumer artificial intelligence, we need to consider what will stay the same and what will fundamentally change going forward.
I am fascinated by consumer journeys and technology-enabled communications, and one of the things I am exploring in my research is the way consumers use technology to make their decisions and the extent to which consumers are aware of this process.
5. What types of research do you do as part of your role? How do you incorporate it into your coursework?
I conduct multi-method research that falls within two broad streams: (1) technology related topics, such as online social interaction, electronic word of mouth (think online reviews), and memes, as well as (2) consumer nostalgia, such as retro-focused marketing strategies.
I try to bring these topics into the classroom whenever appropriate. For example, I love discussing participatory consumer culture and memes as part of brand perception in Introduction to Marketing classes and as part of consumer-level insights in Marketing Research. I think it is important for marketing professors to incorporate their research into the classroom to keep students engaged and up to date with current consumer and market insights.
6. Where do you feel the future of marketing, particularly digital, is heading?
I remember when, in the early 2000s, marketing textbooks classified “digital marketing” as a separate item in the promotional mix. However, digital has come a long way and is here to stay, not as a separate part of a marketing strategy, but as one that interweaves everything else. It is (or at least it should be) part of every company’s strategy.
To quote William Ford Gibson, an American-Canadian writer deemed the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, “the future is already here—it is just not very evenly distributed.” The future of marketing is already here, and we can see a glimpse of it already today: in smart devices, the Intelligence of Things, consumer AI, platform-based business models (e.g., sharing economy).
One change that I am particularly interested in is the way companies disrupt the traditional consumer decision-making process. For example, consumers used to consult a variety of sources to learn about products upon recognizing that they need to buy something. But, how do we do this when ordering through Alexa? How do we access consumer-generated information such as online reviews if a digital assistant is making decisions for us? Those are just some questions that I’m currently grappling with.
7. With digital marketing changing at such a rapid pace, how do you see marketing being taught differently in the future?
Teaching the fundamentals of marketing will remain important, I believe. Tactical solutions (e.g., where to click on Facebook) may change—and rapidly so—but understanding the rationale behind business decisions as well as thinking critically will continue to be important lessons.
8. What advice would you give to young marketing professionals?
Brand yourself. Develop a positive digital footprint of your own brand. Know which conversations you want to be a part of and what you want to say and stand for. Keep a private version of your resume with accomplishments you want to see in the next six months, one year, five years and then reverse engineer with this question in mind: “What do I need to do today in order to see this accomplishment on my CV in six months/one year/five years?”
Try to immerse yourself in different experiences and internships early on—if you hate something, that’s okay. The learning part is what is important. Finally, find a kind and reliable mentor that you can turn to for career advice. Read and learn vigorously. Good luck!