Nick Westergaard on Marketing, Branding and Communication

Branding expert, Nick Westergaard

When you think Nick Westergaard, think marketing. A few of his job titles include marketing consultant, speaker, writer, podcast host, and teacher. Nick’s rise to success in branding and marketing lends itself to more than a few learning lessons and great stories. 

Nick studied Theater Arts and Psychology as an undergrad at the University of Iowa, and proclaims, “I’m one of those case studies that you hear about of people that come here to school and then just stay.” 

Growing up in West Des Moines, one of Nick’s close childhood friends was fellow Tippie Marketing faculty member, Rob Rouwenhorst. After working in various marketing roles and then, starting his own marketing consulting firm, Nick was introduced to the Marketing Institute by Rob, and the rest is history. Kind of. 

Sitting down with Nick, we discuss what he’s learned during his journey to becoming a successful marketer. Additionally, Nick breaks down how to develop your personal brand, a few keys to delivering a great presentation, and how he maintains his passion for marketing. If you’re interested in marketing (which I assume you are if you ended up here), branding, or communication, you’re in for a treat. 


Could you start by telling me a little bit about your background?

I grew up in the West Des Moines area and I went to high school in Adell. I ended up coming over here to school and I’m one of those case studies that you hear about of people that come here to school and then just stay. I studied theater arts and psychology. If you’re not going to study marketing, a close second or an alternate path, I think would be something that deals with the convergence of behavioral science and creativity, which theater and psychology did for me. 

started working at educational publishing company, Buckle Down Publishing, in their marketing department. It was a great fusion of direct marketing because the publishing business was kind of notorious in their early days of being a classic, direct mail and direct marketing industry, so I got experience in that, but it was also around the same time that the internet was really growing. I got to oversee a lot of our direct mail become ecommerce, email driven, so I did a lot of that with this company. When that company was acquired, went to ACT and worked there for a couple of years doing more branding and digital marketing 

As my passion for that really grew, I decided I wanted to do more than just at an individual company. So, I started to do some moonlighting and eventually ended up leaving and consulting on digital marketing.  

When I grew up in West Des Moines, my very close childhood friend was Rob Rouwenhorst – who is back at Iowa now, was gone for a while – but when he was here for the first time, we reconnected. We both went to Iowa, studied different things; it’s funny because neither of them was marketing, but he eventually went into marketing on the academic side and I ended up in marketing on the professional side of things.  

We reconnected, had coffee, and he said at one point, “You should consider being on the advisory council for the Marketing Institute.” So, I did that until about a year ago when I finally rolled off. But through doing that in talking about the placement of students in jobs from the Marketing Institute, so many of them were ending up with social media, digital marketing jobs. I asked if we were doing anything to prepare them for these jobs. That’s how I’ve since learned you get chased in the hallway after the meeting and asked if you would like to teach such a course.  

I started teaching social media on the undergrad side of things, and eventually on the MBA side of things. Then, concurrently with all of this because of all the growth in the digital space, I started doing more speaking at events and with all of this ended up with the opportunity to write a book which became a second book.  

Then back to all the teaching stuff that happened, the college decides that in their strategic plan they want to make sure that our students can write and present effectively. They asked if I wanted to take that on. At first, it sort of stumped me because everything else had been so branding and marketing focused. I took a step back and I realized how I do a lot of the marketing work is through speaking through writing and I’ve really enjoyed it. 


How did you first become interested in marketing?   

It’s interesting because I started out with an entry-level customer service job at Buckle Down Publishing and I mentioned that they sent out a lot of direct mail. If you watch old movies with business, you often see or hear people talking about starting in the mailroom, well this business actually had a mailroom, so I actually can say that I started out in the mailroom.  

It was very basic, and it’s funny because when you’re young and starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Boy, if you ask around like what’s a smart thing to say to your employer, “I don’t think this is working out, I think I’m going to look for something else,” is kind of a way to get let go. But actually to their credit, they heard me say that and they said, “let’s look for some more that you could do here.”  

I would say that I was not in love with the first iteration of the job, but they had this marketing operation. Since they had people that wrote educational workbooks, they didn’t really have marketing writers, what today we would call content marketers. They had all these other people that were writing educational materials and when they had time, they would write a flyer or a catalog.  

As the business was growing, it occurred to them that they would need someone that could do that. It’s funny, in talking about career stuff, it seems like a lot of the things that I’ve stumbled into has started with someone saying would you like to do “X”, that I wasn’t really thinking about or looking for, but then ended up liking. That’s sort of me and teaching too. 


Reflecting on your past experiencesdid you have any “come to Jesus” moments when you realized what you wanted to do and how you were going to get there? Owould you say that it was more of a culmination of everything coming together? 

It’s interesting because I feel like I do have a good sense of fitI think that goes back to the first story that I just told you of kind of naively saying to a boss, “I don’t like it here.” I think there might have been a better way to say that, but I’m glad I did because I ended up in the right spot. I was at that company for 5 years and I learned a lot, did a lot, had an opportunity to do a lot and leave my mark, and do some major rebranding work 

Eventually, that company got acquired by a big New York-based conglomerate and ultimately, we were put into business unit with another publisher that was our competitor. We were kind of reporting to our competitor, so to me, the evidence seemed very clear and the “fit” alarms went off. If Ford has to report to Chevy, that’s not a good path for Ford, especially if you’re in marketingmaking plans about growing, about winning – it seemed like a good time to go.  

I went to ACT from there and it was a very different business environment and culture. It’s changed a lot since then, but when I was there, if you hear storieabout the white shirt and necktie experience of working at IBM in the old days, it was very similar to that. But it also gave me what I think of as mybig business experience’It was very formal, very hierarchical at the time. Again, it’s changed since then, but I realized as a marketer there, as you said, my “come to Jesus” moment – and what led me to start doing a lot of freelance work and eventually leaving – was, “I’m a marketer” 

The metaphor I used was, ‘I’m a carpenter, I like to make tables’. I don’t like to sit at a lot of meetings talking about what building a table could potentially be like. So, that didn’t fit for me.  

I ended up leaving and starting a consulting business that I still work on today and still have a lot of fun doing. I speak at conferences as part of that, and also do consulting work with clients, mostly on their marketing strategy, on digital audits and diagnostics, and things like that.  

I’d say one thing that excites me at Tippie, because it used to be, we have professionals doing some adjunct teaching for us, but there’s really been a growth in instructional track faculty, beyond academic and research faculty. You’ll notice people with the title of “Professor of Practice.” Idenotes that they are from our practice track, which means that they have industry experience that they’ve brought back. I think it can be a real complement to our industry-leading research that is being conducted at the University. We have so many out there that are also doing work in the field, as well. To me, it’s been a really nice convergence.  


What really influenced you to start teaching? 

I never really thought that I would end up teaching. I was surprised to be asked and very serendipitous. I think it’s one of the biggest blessings in my life because of everything I do; I enjoy it a great deal. I kind of didn’t know that other paths existed, to my last point about all the different types of faculty that we have at Tippie, which I think is great, and I didn’t know about that from the outside. I just assumed that unless you had a PhD, like my friend, Rob, that that’s who taught, and others didn’t. I was surprised, thrilled, and blessed to be able to do it.  

I would say of all things that I do – I consult, I speak, write, I host a podcast, and I teach – I like teaching the most. Through the years, if you look at all those things, I always talk about if you look at a light switch that has lots of dimmers that you can turn up and down, I’ve had different things turned up at different times in my life. But progressively through the years, my teaching switch has risen up more and more. It’s something that I love doing. 


Could you tell me a little bit about each of different positions you currently hold? 

Brand Driven Digital is a branding and digital marketing consulting firm that I am the owner and chief strategist of. My wife is also my partner in that business, and another strategist that works with us is actually a Marketing Institute and Tippie Alum, Sarah Moy. It’s the three of us and other folks that we bring in, depending on what the project is. So, that’s a consulting business I have.  

As part of that, it has some adjacent hats that technically go with it. Probably the biggest promotional engine for that work, I host a podcast called, On Brand, that I’ve had since 2015. I just recorded an episode this morning for next week that is the 270th episode. I’ve talked with Seth Godin, Tom Peters, and Guy Kawasaki; brands like Makers Mark, Minnesota Vikings, Adobe, McDonald’s, Ben & Jerry’s. In a weird way, not being an academic that does research, I consider that a big part of my field work.

A lot of the interviews that I’ve conducted there have ended up in my booksBrand Now and Get Scrappy, which I suppose is another “hat”. Also, my professional speaking is technically a part of that Brand Driven Digital business. 


In a Google search for “Nick Westergaard”, you are recognized as an “in-demand marketing speaker”; how did you get your start with public speaking and what do you think sets you apart in your presentations?  

I’d say the easiest thing that I look back on is the growth of the internet as a marketing tool. I think it was an inflection point that allowed me to accelerate my career early on, pretty fast. There just weren’t a lot of people that wanted to tackle what to do with that. Leaning into what’s new is always valuable, so there was a lot of demand to learn more about how to do that. So, that’s one need for speakers on this topic.  

The other thing is that if you look at how you brand and market what’s ultimately a professional services firm, which is funny because we help people with their marketing and ads, but if you look out there in the world, you don’t see a lot of traditional ads for branding and marketing firms. That could seem like a disconnect, but it’s just how you brand and market yourself as a professional marketing firm is different. If you’re selling your brains to people, you need to sell them first on the idea that you have brains that they would want. So, one of the best ways to do that is through speaking at digital marketing conferences.  

Here’s another “come to Jesus” moment for you. I’m a big fan of learning and I’ve always enjoyed going to conferences. There was a point, and this is probably the shift from running an agency to, ‘I think I could do that’. I was at a conference and about midway through, I thought these are great presentations, but I could be standing up there and saying things. I started working towards that; filling out a lot of forms to speak at conferences, and a lot of that was for free. Then, as I grew and started speaking more, I started getting paid a little bit more and a little bit more. Then you write books and that moves you up into another class of speaking as well.  

You were correct in noting earlier that a lot of my hats are related because unless you’re a Seth Godin or a Daniel Pink or a Malcolm Gladwell – who are wealthy authors just for being wealthy authors – to excel when you have a book, you really need to look at it as an ecosystem that works together. I’m working with an event now, and they’re hiring me to speak and they’re going to use my books as part of the program. Again, it’s its own kind of ecosystem.  


What are a few tips you would share with marketing students who get really nervous when presenting or to improve their presenting skills overall? 

Well, I think they’re different things. On the nervous side – I just read a line in a Brené Brown book, Dare to Lead, and she was talking about how she’s done it so much, that she still gets nervous, but she’s not scared. I always transparently say in class, I still get nervous when I do it. Like I share in class, it’s one of the things that people are scared most of. Practice in this case really does, if not makes perfect, makes it a whole lot easier. Practice is something that’s going to improve your vocal delivery, it’s going to improve your physical delivery. As you practice making slides, you’re going to get even better at that. So, practice, practice, practice.  

On the other side, in terms of planning, I think that one of the big things for both working professionals and students that have just learned a whole lot and are about to go out in the world, we all struggle with what’s called the curse of knowledge. ‘I’ve got so much smarts in my brain, I want to make sure that everybody knows it, so I’m going to try to cram everything in there. It won’t fit? That’s okay, I’ll just talk faster.’  

I’d say a decent through line in me and my work, whether it’s marketing or communication, is the importance of simplicity. I think that you have to be really focused about what you say if you want to capture your audience’s attention and keep it. I don’t think that’s accomplished by including everything. 


You’ve had a lot of success in different facets of marketing, what do you think are the key components behind your success? 

I think leaning into uncertainty. It feels “yucky” a lot, but I think that there’s things you can learn. Often, there’s success as a result of it. Saying yes to weird things, like nobody else wanted to tackle creating an e-commerce website, nobody wanted to think about how we could shift some of those catalogs that we sent out over to email, so I tackled that and learned a great deal from that.  

I had not thought of myself as a teacher, but as I started to do that, it really kind of helped to flesh out own thinking on a lot of this too. I think that it’s made me better. My teaching has made me better in the field and the work that I do in the field, I bring back into the classroom. 


What keeps you motivated and passionate about marketing? 

I was recording a podcast this morning and the guest said that the people who can decode what makes the most sense, in terms of media, are going to be successful because there’s just too much. I think that, in a weird way, excites me. You can look at marketing today two-dimensionally, and just say, ‘there’s a lot of stuff; there’s a lot of cool, new stuff, there’s new content, there’s TikTok! If you can just do all this stuff, you got it!’. I don’t think that’s the case.  

It goes back to simplicity. Simple is hard – that’s why we fall back, when we’re communicating or presenting, on saying everything because maybe if I say everything, the right thing will be in there and someone will like it, instead of drilling down and focusing. That work is hard, and it takes a lot of thinking, a lot of planning. Ultimately, you have to say it’s this one, not that one. You may be right, but you also may be wrong. But I think that kind of thinking is something that continues to excite me. Honestly, I think that’s why I’ve alternated between marketing and communication, even in these examples that I’ve given to you.  

There was a while, and I’m a branding person, so I thought I had a pretty consistent brand, but I had this odd crisis of confidence once I started teaching personal communication to students. I thought, what do I do? Then, I realized that it felt kind of the same, but I didn’t know how to talk about it. So, if someone needs me to describe everything that I do, what I go with is, “I help organizations and individuals tell their story.” With organizations, that manifested itself as branding and marketing; with individuals, that’s personal communication 


Why do you think it’s important for marketing students to have their own “brand”? What are some first steps you recommend in establishing your personal brand? 

I think that sometimes people can have a hot take on that saying, “you just need to be good at your job; all this personal branding, is that even really a thing?” I think people get hung up because they think that you’re going to develop your own logo, t-shirts, and laptop stickers. Not saying that any of that would be wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily have to look like we think brands look 

It needs to feel like brands feel because strong brands are memorable. Strong brands are hard to ignore. Strong brands make you connect and feel something. If you look at those outcomes, an individual looking for work should absolutely want to trigger some of those same things. You have to think about what is an important part of my brand? Through that lens, you can use that to help answer interview questions, help organize a resume.

I am about focus; I am about simplicity. I think you can see that in my personal brand. 

As a personal branding exercise, think about the idea of a 6-word story. Or beyond that, what’s one thing that you want the person that walks out of the interview after you’re done to think. When they think your name, ‘blank’, what is the ‘blank’ that fills in? If there’s no blank that fills in, then it’s a problem. Then it will truly be a blank and you will fade away from their memory.  

If folks struggle with the idea of a personal brand, they need to first bend their definition of what they think of as a brand. If you have that one thing that you want to be known for, then that becomes a divining rod that you can use in making decisions and it becomes directional. That informs, absolutely, how I answer questions, both in terms of what I say and how I say it.

I try to eat my own dog food a bit in the sense of simplicity because I try not to talk a mile a minute, I try to pause and think. Down to the fact that you can take that to its most peripheral and think about what would someone who values branding and simplicity dress like? You might only have a snapshot of time and if I want someone to think that I’m a bold, creative thinker, maybe that informs what I wearYou might have enough of a personality that you act in a bold, creative way, but your clothing might understate that. 


What specific aspects of marketing or new trends in marketing are most exciting to you today? 

The emergence of content marketing is exciting to me. I have a background in theater, so creating content is very much of interest to me. That’s the side that is really exciting to think about, for me personally, but also for brands too. Looking at what that looks like in these new and exciting ways that you can develop to share your story.  

Some of those new ways that brands can tell their story include podcasting, which is such a broad term but it manifests itself in so many different ways. Videowhich is one of those things like podcasting that never really skyrocketed, but now it is the premier tool on every major social network. There’s more video watched on social networks than the text updates posted, and we know that video has economic impact. We know that customers are more likely to purchase from a brand if they’ve watched a branded video about that product. Then, all the way up to something new and exciting, like TikTok, that is ultimately a video tool. 

The multi-sensory experiences that we can create as brands on one hand, they require different thinking when it comes to strategy, but they also require people that know how to use and engage in that medium. That’s one of the things in talking with undergrads especially, you have this group that has grown up as digital natives and understand these platforms. If you take that and combine that with marketing strategy and analytics, that’s a formidable combination.  


What are the biggest lessons you try to teach your students? 

Coming from industry, coming from the world of practice, I really think that practical application is big part regardless of what I’m teaching. It’s beyond just thinking about something, hopefully, differently, and learning something, it’s that we’ve had opportunities to try to apply that practice to our work as well. 

Student Highlight – Macy Klein

Marketing student, Macy Klein in Australia

This month’s student highlight is 4th-year Marketing and Business Analytics student, Macy Klein. Originally from Manchester, Iowa, Macy knew she wanted to stay in-state for college. Macy made the decision to attend the University of Iowa after sitting in on one of her sister’s chemistry lectures. Drawn to the big school feel, she moved to Iowa City to embark on her academic journey. 

As a marketing major at Tippie, Macy was set to graduate in 3 years, but wasn’t quite ready to leave. After learning about the Undergraduate to Graduate Master’s in Business Analytics program, Macy applied and will graduate in May 2021. 

Below, Macy discusses her experiences in marketing, studying abroad in Australia, and joining the Master’s in Business Analytics program. While Macy’s perspective on the Tippie Marketing experience is unique, her story is relatable to anyone interested in marketing. 


What were some of the reasons you decided to pursue a degree in marketing? 

Going in, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something in business, so I started out there. Originally, I considered pre-law, but after taking Intro to Law, I knew I did not want to do that. Then, I chose marketing. I chose marketing-management because I liked the overview of all the different tracks, and I didn’t want to do anything specific.

I was really interested in the business side of thingsbut I also liked the creative side. Right now in my internship, work more with design. The marketing classes I took didn’t really focus on that as much, but we still learn what to highlight to catch consumers’ attention, so I really liked that aspect. In a lot of the classes I took we talked about why marketing works. I thought that was really interesting and it caught my attention with the marketing major compared to the other business majors.  

Also, I intern with University of Iowa Health Care, so I’m doing a marketing internship with women’s health in the OBGYN department. It started ithe summer of 2019 and I was supposed to have a different internship this last summer. When my other one got cancelled, I just asked if I could keep my internship through the summer. 


What have been some of your favorite marketing classes that you’ve taken? 

Consumer Behavior with Andrea Luangrath. I liked the aspect of learning what works when catching peoples’ attention. It tied in the psychology part of marketing, so that was interesting and something different. 

I also took Merchandise Management with Nancy Abram and I really like Nancy as a teacher because she made it interesting. The group projects were very useful because we did real-world examples and we got to go on a field trip to Von Maur. We went to the Coralville location and the headquarters in Davenport to see the supply chain and how marketing plays a role there. That was really interesting, especially because nowadays we see how retail stores are becoming less and less. Von Maur and their chains, like Dry Goods, have actually been exceeding their expectations each year, so that was interesting to learn about what works for them and why. 

Although the class content in Pro Prep wasn’t always the most interesting, I also really liked Mark Winkler as a professor. He makes things exciting and you can tell he’s invested in his students.  


What have been some of the highlights of your undergraduate studies? 

The opportunity to study abroad. I really liked that they pushed me to do that. It wasn’t something that I originally came into Iowa thinking that I wanted to do no matter what. Even after my freshman year, my advisor really wanted me to go to China. I was like, I don’t know if I want to do that yet, being a first-year student, but then I started looking into it more. They offer a lot of opportunities for scholarships, which I’m very grateful for because without that I probably wouldn’t have gone.

Then, I started looking into the Australia program during spring of 2019. I applied on the first day that the application was available. It was really exciting just to get to go, so I was happy that my advisor told me about that and pushed for it.

I was glad I got to do that and the opportunities that Tippie provides for RISE. Especially now thinking back, I did it during the winter of 2019-2020, and looking back, I was like 2020 started off awesome. We left on New Year’s Eve and were there until January 12th. It was nice because you got enough time to learn about international business in the Asia-Pacific region, but also you have the weekends to explore more and you’re not gone that long. 


Why did you decide to study abroad in Australia? How did the experience shape your outlook on international business, marketing, your personal growth? 

I chose Australia because I felt like it was one of the international business perspectives that you don’t hear about as much, so I thought it would be interesting to go there. It was really a once in a lifetime experience. Knowing how far away it was from Iowa, I didn’t know if I’d get the chance to go there againWhereas, Italy and London, I feel like you hear more about the business opportunities there. I wanted to learn about that region (Asia-Pacific), in general. It also has a closer relation to business in the U.S.the dollar value, and it’s an English-speaking country. 

It was huge for personal growth. I met a lot of new people, and I travelled with someone that I had met in my freshman year orientation. That was really neat that we both got to go at the same time. I met a lot of new friends from Iowa and there were other schools in the same dorm as us. We got to meet people there and talk with them.

For my professional growth, it really just grew my perspective on international business and knowing that there’s so many differences within just the Asia-Pacific region. I joked with my parents that I was going to look for a job in Sydney, and they were like, ahhh, that’s a little far! It just sucks that I couldn’t go home quick because the flight is like 13 hours.  

Also, a lot of new connections. We had speakers coming in, usually multiple a day, so talking to them personally, learning about their companies and opportunities they had in the U.S. was really cool. I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn from the speakers and companies that I met there. 

Marketing-wise, one of the big things that I found was how different the portion sizes were. I went to a Starbucks there and their Venti, which is the largest size here, was the size of a medium. That was really interesting to learn about, just the portions in general. Another night, we ordered pizza from a Dominoes and their large was like a small in the U.S. That was also interesting to just see the health outcomes because of those differences.

Then, thinking about how they market too because there weren’t that many chains from the U.S. in Australia. I found that they had McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Burger King. Those were the big three, otherwise they really had like no fast food. That was interesting and it made me think if their marketing laws are different because I know in some places you can’t market or put on TV fast food ads and stuff like that.

Just learning about how with the different portion sizes and different type of culture there, the marketing perspective flips when you’re marketing in Australia vs. the U.S. 


What were some of the influences that helped you make the decision to join the Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) Master’s in Business Analytics program?    

I was going to graduate in 3 years, but I realized that I did not want to do that. That’s when I started looking into the U2G program because I could still get my master’s and my bachelor’s in 4 years. In a lot of marketing classes I took we talked about the analytics aspect, how much it was going to be useful in the future, and how big the industry was growing. 

During my undergrad, I didn’t really take any marketing analytics classes. I did more of the consumer behavior and the merchandise side, so I wanted to tie that in. It can equip me both in going into the analytics using my master’s or doing marketing, so I really liked that aspect as well.

Basically, I did it on a spur of the moment thing. It’s weird because you don’t really decide to get your master’s randomly. I actually applied really late, it was summer of 2019 and usually you’re applying the winter before.

I was emailing a couple different people in the master’s program, and also my undergrad advisor asking them what their thoughts were. Also, I did a lot of looking on the Tippie website and in general, reading about a master’s in business analytics. I found that not that many programs did a master’s in business analytics at the time. Just knowing the background that I’ve seen from the world around me and touching on how big data is really influenced me. 

Also, my internship – I had only had it for 2 months when I really started looking into the program but knowing how much data the hospital got in every day, I was like I feel like we could be doing so much more with this. That’s what really sparked me to look into it 

Then I applied; I want to say within the last week that you could. I had my interview and when they were just asking me about why, that’s when I realized this was something I wanted to do and could open the doors to even more opportunities. Really, like I said earlier, it’s nice because now I have the marketing knowledge, but also this advanced analytics degree on top of it. It can open the door to many different fields.  


How would you describe your experience in the Business Analytics graduate program so far? 

My experience has been really good! When I first came in, the first classes I took were Data Management and Visual Analytics, Data Programming in R, and Business Communication. This was when I was still doing my undergraduate courses. It was interesting, just that jump because I had no coding experience in the past. That kind of scared me at first.

My sister also took a coding class her freshman year and that’s when she decided, “no, I’m not doing engineering!” So, that had me worried, like, oh my gosh, I’m jumping into this with no background. A lot of people come in from different majors in this program, so it was taught at a level that I understood. It was obviously overwhelming at first, but then I really got the hang of it. It’s interesting to learn because I feel like not that many people know how to code unless you’re doing those engineering or computer science-type majors. So, it’s nice to have that, in additional to my marketing bachelor’s degree.  

Even in the spring semestetaking Data Science – that class overwhelmed me. Now looking back, although it was frustrating to work with, it was nice to learn the machine learning aspect of it. Even now, with this semester coming to a completion, I can see how much I’ve grown just compared to my first year in the program. I’m just taking Python this semester, but I’m like this is so much easier than if I would have taken it last year at the same time I took R. I can see how much I’ve grown through that 

Although the Business Communication class was somewhat repetitive, it was useful because I was not good at public speaking at all. It’s something that I feared and I still don’t like doing it. I wouldn’t want to stand up in front of everyone, but it was helpful overall, just learning those communication skills. Obviously, technical skills are huge, but they want you to be able to communicate that. If you just have those technical skills, you can’t communicate it to the business, and it means nothing. 


Are there any opportunities that you wish you had taken advantage of during your time at Tippie? 

I was in Women in Business for just one semester and I really wish that I would’ve joined sooner. I did it in the fall of 2019, but I didn’t do it in the spring. My workload and class schedule were a little difficult, but I wish I would have signed up earlier. I wish I would have done it my sophomore year and even freshman year. My freshman year, I was more shy and I didn’t do as much. 

I also wish that I would’ve taken more classes with Mark Winkler. I wish I would have done more of the marketing analytics, since now I am doing business analytics. I feel like that would have been good because it differs in adding the marketing aspect to the analytics. 


How do you feel your experiences at Tippie have prepared you for life after graduation? 

A lot of the real-world projects that we do, specifically in the marketing undergrad programIn almost all of my classes we had group projects where we were working with real companies and doing researchFor Merchandise Management we did a project with Aldi. A manager from the company came in and we had to find new topics or stuff that would work. She actually was going to take them back to the company. That was helpful knowing we’re working with a client and trying to do research on stuff that would actually work for them. 

Also, in the Introduction to Marketing course that everyone has to take, there’s a lot of group projects there. The aspect of working with teams really prepares you. No matter what company you’re in, you’re going to be working with other people.  

My undergrad advisor was also really good. I still just asked them a question the other day, so having them always be there is really helpful. With a lot of the other colleges, I hear my friends not liking their advisors at all. Tippie does a good job of having good advisors that are going to answer your emails and give you good advice, whether you want to hear it or not.  

With the master’s program, the Career Management team is really good. They are there for you and they’ll help you, but I do need to utilize them more. It’s nice knowing that if I get down to the wire and still don’t have a job come May, I can reach out to them. They have all these resources lined up for you, even after you graduate.  

Then, obviously, my study abroad prepared me by exposing me to different cultures, learning that business can relate wherever you go, and being open to travel. It made me realize that I wouldn’t mind traveling for a position. You do have to prepare for where you’re going by learning about how the culture and talking about business is different.


What are you hoping to do after graduation? 

I’m not 100% sure yet, it kind of depends on where I can find a job. I’ve applied with Wellmark in Des Moines, which would be more of the analyst aspect in doing insuranceI’ve also applied to Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, and Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. Those are a combination of positions like healthcare coordinator of a division. So, that would be an overview of using all the business skills that I’ve learned. 

My internship was going to be at Nationwide this summer. I’ve applied there knowing that I have some background with the company. That would be more in the personal product line and insurance side. I’m definitely leaning more towards health care, but otherwise using my master’s degree in analytics.  

I’m also looking at some marketing analytics positions. One of the Sanford positions I applied for was in marketing metrics for their cardiovascular department. Also, there was a position with Mercy, with their heart center in West Des Moines, doing marketing analytics. For Mayo Clinic, I applied for a marketing manager position.  

I don’t want to sit at a desk all day and just code or work on research. I guess I wouldn’t say not working on research. Some medical-type positions, I would want to do research, both on the marketing side and combining it to show my results through the technical analytics skills I’ve learned. That’s really what I want to do. Going out and doing research on the marketing side and then putting it together with the technical skills.  


What advice would you share with other marketing students approaching graduation? 

I would say don’t worry if you don’t really know what you want to do, but don’t narrow yourself on applying to just a certain position. You never know if something you randomly decide to apply to will end up appealing to you. It’s also good to know where you don’t want to be. I’m not sure exactly where I want to end up, but I know where I don’t want to end up. You can not know what you want to do or even where you want to be. I feel those things too right now, but I feel like you don’t give yourself enough credit for knowing what you don’t want and that’s huge. If you know where you don’t want to be, you’re halfway there to figuring out what you want to do. 

Through my internship right now, I’ve learned that you can come in with new ideas. You can’t completely try to change the job. But when it comes to marketing, you can be creative and come in with ideas. They really like that you can be a self-starter. At least at the hospital, they like that they don’t need to tell a marketing person exactly what to do. You can kind of come up with that. Through my internship I’ve been able to kind of make my own job. Obviously there are things that you need to do, but you can adjust that to what the company needs once you get in there and figure it out 


Marketing Faculty Perspective on Fall 2020 Semester

Marketing Faculty have had the tough task during the Fall 2020 semester of creating engaging content and ensuring the success of their students. The challenges they face go beyond just presenting quality information in their classes. They also have to consider the best format for connecting with their students and continuing to motivate students to perform well despite many obstacles.

We surveyed a few faculty members to get their perspective on what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, how they’ve adjusted their teaching methods, and how students can succeed in today’s job market.


What are some of the biggest obstacles you have been faced with in teaching this semester? 


Student Interaction:

“The biggest change has been adjusting to an online environment. I teach marketing research and marketing analytics courses. My courses do not have a live component. Teaching technical material without the benefit of in-class interaction is very challenging.”

“It is one thing to know that most of human communication is non-verbal. It is another thing to experience firsthand an audience wearing masks preventing you from seeing smiles, frowns, and more.”

“Feeling concerned about the student experience, with giving asynchronous lectures, there isn’t any immediate feedback.”

“Keeping students motivated. It was always a challenge pre-COVID. However, the pandemic has made it more difficult because the students are getting ‘pandemic fatigue’.”

“Not being able to check in on students regularly. I teach in person, but only 30% of the class shows up (even less now). I’m worried some of the people who aren’t showing up to class are being left behind.”

“When I teach, I like to interact with the students. I learn quite a bit from the students (usually). Zoom and social distancing in the classroom have kept us all safe, but have reduced my chances to spontaneously interact with students.”

Developing New Material:

“Developing new materials such as video. Adjusting assignments, tests, and projects. Dramatically reduced engagement from students. Some never showed up or only as a black box and when called on, never responded.”

“I felt much better prepared this semester because the Spring 2020 semester provided ample opportunity to work through the technical challenges associated with online teaching. The summer was an opportunity to organize content. The students have been fantastic to work with.”

Communication & Meetings:

“I had to offer multiple teaching modes and it became difficult to facilitate group discussions as students were attending the class through different modes.”

“Biggest impact is on PhD teaching. Miss quick meetings – everything is an hour long zoom. Also miss out of random run ins that lead to new ideas and directions.”

“Organizing an event with outside business people.”


What have been some of the biggest adjustments you have had to make this year to ensure your students still receive a high level of instruction? 


Course Structure:

“Updated curriculum to allow for more self-paced assignments so students could integrate into their unpredictable schedule and given space to manage the many disruptions they are experiencing i.e. personal, and family health and economic concerns.”

“I have switched exams to an open book and open note format.”

“I have added more frequent small assessments to help students stay caught up on the content. Reduced the number of group projects, to adjust for the break at end, where group work may be more contentious.”


“I tried to make the class as flexible as possible since all the students had their own challenges of dealing with COVID-19. So, I invested an extra amount of time and effort to respond to students’ requests on an individual basis.”

“Expanded virtual office hours to provide additional coaching time for individuals requiring extra help. Made use of the virtual break-out feature in Zoom to enhance the discussion.”

I have increased the number of touch points with students: announcements, emails, Zoom office hours, and a discussion board organized by topic.”

Virtual Lectures:

“In order to make the best quality videos I can, I invested in lights, a green screen, a microphone, and taught myself Final Cut Pro.” 

“I have given more class time to breakout rooms than I usually do. I try to minimize the amount of time that students listen to prerecorded asynchronous lectures.”

“Special recordings for at-home students, altered assignments for students who can’t present, flexible deadlines, altered participation grade schedule so students do not need to be in class.”

“None. I can deliver the same experience online as in class.”


In what ways has COVID-19 influenced your overall approach to teaching? 



“Perhaps now more than ever, we need to focus on mindfulness/positivity/and creating positive habits in our lives. I can’t tell you how many students have responded positively to a weekly habit assignment I have them do where they have to state, “I will [HABIT], on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].” I have students eating healthier, exercising more, meditating, journaling, going for walks, and more. While the assignment may not have a direct correlation with marketing, I tell students if you can’t influence yourself what hope do you have of influencing others? Plus, the positive outcomes of this assignment are far and away more positive than anything else I’ve ever assigned to students.”

“Made me understand and appreciate the value of being present for the students.”

I am much more sensitive to student challenges due to poor Internet speeds, student illness, need to take care of siblings or parents etc. Also, the use of student case groups has become a very important part of the course. Case groups help reduce feelings of social isolation.”


“It makes me put myself in the student’s shoes. I think it would be harder to keep track of all the e-mails, announcements and schedules. Going to class would help compartmentalize the classes and content more. I try to be really organized with the content, so things are not confusing. My ICON site is chronological, generally it is more topical by resource.”

“I have given more tests to make sure that students are keeping up with the reading and actually thinking about material as it is presented.”

“Students are now used to remote group work. So, easier to do group cases in online setting.”

“I have made all the teaching materials online, which is probably the biggest change I made in my teaching.”  

General Changes:

“More communication with facilitators and students.”

“It’s actually made me a more organized instructor.”

“It has made me a lot more flexible and understanding.”


Despite the challenges with teaching virtually, what are some positive outcomes you have observed so far this semester? 


Connecting With Students:

“Get to have students from across Iowa in the same class (combined QC and DSM class)”

“I ended very connected with a few students who were very impacted by situation.” 

“As an introvert, I love teaching virtually. I do miss interacting with the students in person, but I have Zoom one-on-ones with the students which has worked out okay.”

“I got to know the students who came to class very, very well.” 

Online Effectiveness:

“Some students like the online format. Lectures are shorter. The amount of help outside class is more extensive than previously.”

“My guest speaker recorded his presentation and made it available to multiple sessions, so he only had to present once. Also, the online exam worked out pretty nicely.” 

“Attendance to Zoom classes is very high.” 

“Learned some new technology, I didn’t get COVID-19. That is about all. Not of fan of this mode of instruction for the large class I teach.” 


What marketing trends have you noticed emerging recently in response to COVID-19? 


Virtual Advantage:

“More acceptable of remote work and meetings. Touchless everything. Software continues to improve dramatically. Video meetings (e.g. Zoom) were clunky at first, but continues to improve. These trends will influence how companies make real estate decisions and will also influence where workers live and design their homes.”

“The change to online has accelerated while some traditional retailers are winning with online ordering and quick pick up/delivery.”

“I will continue to use online aspects of teaching, like online exams and quiz, after the pandemic is over. I think the online aspects of teaching will not go away, if not take over the offline class.” 

Consumer Preferences:

“COVID 19 has accelerated trends in how products and services are purchased and consumed across the spectrum of Health, Food, Entertainment. For me, the biggest surprise has been how resilient companies and people have been. What I look forward to is to see which trends will slow or accelerate post-COVID.” 

“Changes in lifestyle due to COVID are making big changes in consumption. For example, delivery of grocery products and restaurant meals is much more prevalent. There is a lot more online buying in general. Social media and online communication (Zoom) are more important. All this has implications for the marketing distribution system and for how marketers communicate with consumers. Whether these changes will be permanent (after COVID vaccines are widely available) is unclear.”

“Online shopping of all kinds becoming more pervasive. Demand for home goods and electronics are high, plus grocery and package liquor. On the apparel and equipment front, no event wear or professional wear being bought. Athletic apparel, cosmetics, and personal fitness athletic equipment on the rise. General inflation in conveniently delivered and picked up goods.” 


“Companies have been SLOW to change their advertising – specifically, portraying people with masks and practicing social distancing. The marketing message and media has tremendous influence on the public’s behavior. Advertisers haven’t caught on to this – which can impact how people become more accepting of the ‘new norm’.”


What do you think are the most important skills or traits for a new grad to demonstrate in order to succeed in the changing Marketing environment? 


Empathy & Making Connections:

“Students who have better social connections (supportive friends and family) will do better. Also, students who are self-starters and who are better organized will also do better. Still, the COVID environment is challenging for everyone — faculty as well as students.” 

“Empathy for customers as they navigate this changed world”

“Empathy, resiliency, business acumen, qualitative, and quantitative research skills.” 

Commitment to Learning:

“If you are willing to put in the work, a growth mindset, and a commitment to life-long learning, you will succeed!”

“Being motivated to learn and able to organize his/her schedule are more important than ever as instructors will continue to adopt the online aspects of teaching. While efficient, the drawback of online teaching is that it limits the instructor’s ability to check the student’s progress. Students are left in charge of keeping track of assignment dues, studying for the exam, etc. more than before.”

“Flexibility and problem solving skills.”

Online Professionalism:

“Companies are going to continue working virtually, even after COVID is resolved. This will require students to learn self-discipline and self-motivation if they want to succeed in the new corporate environment.”

“Learn how to participate and work effectively online.”

“Online communication and shopping knowledge/skill sets.”

“Able to work in teams online. Able to communicate professionally on Zoom.” 

Fall 2020 Semester – Student Perspective

If one thing is certain, it’s that the Fall 2020 semester has been full of uncertainty. Yet, students have shown their resilience time and time again this semester by learning to adapt to the changing environment. While it may not be exactly the semester that students were hoping for, they continue to overcome the challenges.

We surveyed students to get their perspective on struggles they’re facing, how they’ve adjusted to the changes, and resources they use to help them succeed during the Fall 2020 semester.


Negative Feelings Towards Hybrid Learning

Out of 71 students surveyed, 42 reported that they are taking a majority of their classes virtually. Almost 60% of students said that this semester falls below their expectations. The hybrid-learning format has proven to be a huge challenge for students to overcome.

Some students described their feelings towards the Fall 2020 semester so far as, “stressful and tedious”, “difficult and frustrating”, and “underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time”. One student went on to say, “I am performing the best I can and utilizing all the resources at my disposal, however I benefit from in person discussions and lectures.”

It’s apparent that the nontraditional semester has instilled feelings of doubt and anxiety for many students. While students seem to fully grasp the circumstances, it has proven difficult for many to remain motivated. The increasing reliance on meeting virtually and lack of in-person activities leaves some students feeling mentally drained and unmotivated.

“I feel very isolated. I have some in person classes but the worst part of it all is the inability to be involved in any student orgs in person. My college experience is not the same, I miss my friends, and even though some things are still offered over Zoom I really don’t want to get on another Zoom call willingly after staring at a screen all day for class.”

Among difficulties that students have encountered during the Fall 2020 semester, Zoom meeting fatigue was the main obstacle reported.

Generally, students echoed a similar sentiment that they perform better when receiving instruction in-person over a virtual format. In particular, one student’s comments embodied this sentiment saying, “While professors are much better at dealing with the online format then last year, I am learning MUCH less online than I learn in my in-person classes.” A commonality among students who prefer in-person instruction is the ability to connect with professors and peers.

“It’s harder to make friends in classes because we’re not in person, and group projects are not in person usually either. Some of my good friends I’ve met through group projects, and I miss our times being in a study room goofing off. Now everything is just about the actual coursework, which is important, but there is no longer anything fun involved because being virtual just doesn’t give off the same vibe.”

For students who find that interacting with others gives them energy, this semester has been especially difficult. When asked about major differences in their educational experience this semester, one student responded, “the lack of connection and that resulting in me feeling like I have no motivation.” With less frequent opportunities to engage with others while walking to classes or studying in the Bizhub, many students miss the daily interactions they were used to. Another student simply stated, “I just miss my friends and talking with people.”

Additionally, students have increasingly had to deal with mental health challenges during this semester. One student reflected on their challenges with ADHD and how that has impacted their learning experience saying, “I have ADHD and it [has been] extremely, extremely hard for me to focus not in a classroom environment.”

The increased dependency on completing courses virtually has taken a heavy toll on students’ ability to focus and learn. Another student reporting feeling that, “much of this semester has felt overwhelming. The course load in online classes has almost been heavier than that of in-person classes, taking into account the potential technical difficulties and increased need for proper communication.”

It’s clear that the majority of students have felt that their academic success has suffered this semester. Between the tension and uncertainty of our current social climate and students’ difficulties with adjusting to a primarily virtual college experience, the majority of students expressed concerns about their ability to perform their best this semester. However, Tippie students do not give up when it comes to achieving their goals.


Finding the Positive

While the Fall 2020 semester has presented many challenges to overcome, students have managed to find positives in the situation. Among the positive outcomes students reported experiencing, having a more flexible schedule was one of the top responses.

One student described overcoming the challenges this semester saying, “Although the initial learning curve was difficult, I feel into a great rhythm and enjoy having online classes. It allows me to watch lectures and do assignments on my own time between engagements and hectic scheduling of events/extracurricular and jobs.”

Similarly, another student remarked that, “I learn a lot better when I can do the work on my own and seem to excel in this kind of education environment.” While virtual learning may not be effective for all students, this semester has taught many of them how to thrive in an online environment. One student reflected on the impacts they’ve experienced in engaging with content virtually saying, “This semester online showed me how effective recorded lectures are, and how they can be utilized more in our classes in the future.”

Whether we like it or not, working virtually is quickly becoming a new norm. Students’ ability to adapt to this environment will provide a major advantage when transitioning into the workforce. One student provided some recommendations for becoming more successful in the online format, saying,

“Turn video on as much as possible during Zoom meetings! I’ve learned that doing classes online can get overwhelming, and it’s easy to forget to do things. To combat this, I’ve been using a digital calendar that I can access 24/hours a day and edit/cross things off of my list. Game changer. Finding ways to interact with others and making sure you take care of yourself are super important.”

As many students discovered, forming connections has become much more difficult this semester. One student shared how they combated this lack of in-person communication saying, “Group meetings over Zoom are super effective – meeting times are easier to find. I’ve gotten to know my peers so much better this semester in breakout rooms.”

Many students also learned to take initiative in reaching out when they need help. Whether attending Zoom office hours, emailing instructors, seeking out assistance from tutors, or talking with peers, students have demonstrated their resilience and resourcefulness when it comes to succeeding in their coursework.


Resources Students Have Found Most Beneficial

Despite the challenges presented in the Fall 2020 semester, students managed to find ways to improve their learning experience. Check out some of the resources and strategies that students recommend to stay engaged and maximize learning outcomes!

Meeting with classmates:

  • Talking to other peers to help me learn when possible
  • Meeting with groups via Zoom to understand coursework
  • Using the share-screen feature in Zoom

Instructors providing assistance:

  • Professors sending out reminders before due dates
  • Empathy and understanding from my instructors
  • Seeking help – emailing instructors, attending office hours, individual meetings with professors 

Staying organized:

  • Getting up early to get things done
  • Structure the week out at the beginning of the week to know when all your assignments are due
  • Using a planner has been really helpful for me
  • Making a to-do list and schedule every day and sticking to it

Learning Styles:

  • Maximizing use of recorded lectures – Pre-recorded lectures help me better understand content because I can pause to take notes, go back if I don’t understand something and rewatch lectures and supplementary videos before exams as a review; recorded lectures were super helpful! Not only did it allow me to watch them on my own time, but also was helpful in referencing information.
  • Studying – I taught myself some new studying techniques and found some studying apps that have been helpful this semester; studying with roommates and using study videos on YouTube; Quizlet
  • TAKE NOTES!! – Detailed notes have been a godsend and help me to focus and retain information; hand write notes
  • If a class was in-person but moved to virtual instruction, still do the class material at the pre-assigned time. If it weren’t for COVID, we’d still be in classes at certain times and it helps to keep you accountable 
  • The ability to ask all questions through chat makes me feel more confident then asking questions in-person
  • External resources – Learning coaches, my advisor, library guides and resources 

Recommendations for Thanksgiving Break Activities

Thanksgiving Break is finally within reach (or maybe it has already started for you)! The week off from classes is a great opportunity to relax, reset, and rejuvenate. While the holiday break might look different this year, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the much needed time off. We asked students what activities they recommend for a safe and relaxing break.

Thanksgiving Break Recommendations 


  • Among Us
  • Scrapbooking
  • Napping
  • Christmas Decorating
  • Cooking, backing holiday treats, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, stuffing my face with food
  • I’m looking forward to going on long walks with my family again like we did in the Spring during lockdown. We like to bundle up and walk and talk for an hour or so after dinner.
  • Working on projects with my dad 


  • Netflix Christmas movies – new movies to check out include Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, and A New York Christmas Wedding.
  • Marvel and DC movies
  • My Octopus Teacher 


  • Queen’s Gambit
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Criminal Minds
  • House of Cards
  • How to Get Away with Murder 
  • Sports – Turkey Bowl football game, wrestling


  • Sell It Like Serhant is an amazing sales and real estate book!
  • The Hate U Give. I read it this summer and it correlates with some events that occurred earlier this year
  • The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. A book that changed my life and perspective 


  • I love the podcast Optimal Living Daily. They have all varying topics like finance, health, and they read off a different blog or book excerpt every day.
  • I highly recommend the “Simply Be.” podcast! It educates on topics like personal branding, business strategies, female empowerment, and spirituality. 
  • Joe Rogan Podcast

Student Highlight – Bella Volfson

Isabella Volfson standing under Tippie Arch

In a few short weeks the December 2020 graduating class will celebrate their accomplishments and join the Tippie Alumni family. For Bella Volfson, there’s extra reason to celebrate the upcoming event.

Bella was recently selected to be the Fall 2020 Tippie Commencement Speaker. With a staggering six Tippie RISE experiences completed, determination to forge her own unique path, and a passion for building relationships, Bella fully embodies the Tippie spirit.

In this interview Bella discusses how she got to where she is today and what the recognition means to her. Additionally, Bella reflects on her college experience, favorite Tippie memories, and tips on setting yourself up for success. There is no doubt that Bella will commemorate her graduating class exceptionally.


Tell me a little about yourself. Where you’re from, what brought you to Tippie. 

I’m from Davenport, Iowa. My dad actually went to Iowa, so I knew I was probably going to end up here. On my 18th birthday, it was a Saturday and there was an Admitted Students Day at Tippie, so I thought I might as well go. I went by myself, my parents didn’t come with me, and Ken Brown noticed that I was by myself. He approached me and asked me who I was and what my story was. After talking to him for 10 minutes, I knew that this is where I needed to be. I was stuck between here and another school, but talking to him just made me feel really welcomed. He even followed me on Twitter immediately! That’s what ultimately brought me to Tippie, that interaction with Ken, and I’ve maintained that relationship with him over the last 5 years. 


What inspired you to pursue a degree in Marketing? 

I chose marketing because I’m really outgoing, so I knew I wanted to be in a field that would allow me to work with other people and build relationships with them. I’m also very creative, so I wanted to be able to use my creative side within my work. I felt like other majors were more analytical or didn’t allow the creative use as much. Really, I chose marketing because I thought I could make my own kind of degree with it. For example, I took an Intro to Photography class and now I own my own photography business. The marketing courses offered and the electives I could take really allowed me to make my own path and do what I wanted. 


How did you get your start with photography to then go and start your own business?  

I was 16 when I first started, but that was very amateur and I didn’t know very much about it. Taking that class my first semester at Iowa really allowed me to expand and grow in that. Then I got a job with Marketing & Design at the IMU as a photographer, so I’ve been able to shoot things like the Bad Suns Homecoming ConcertI met the actors from The Office and I did shoots with them. Now I also work at Tippie as a Social Media Intern, so I do a lot of photography around Tippie for their social media platforms.  


What have been some of your favorite classes that you’ve taken? 

At Tippie, specifically, any class with Nancy Abram.  Doesn’t matter the content. I think that she’s such an amazing person. She’s very raw, keeps it very real, and I think that’s really necessary when you’re about to enter the real world. She’s been a great mentor over the years. I also really liked Consumer Behavior with Chelsea Galoniand being part of Marketing Institute also really, really helped me out.  


What do you attribute your success at Tippie to? Are there any specific initiatives you took to set yourself apart? 

I did 6 different Tippie RISE experiences over the years. I think that getting involved really made a difference, inside and outside of Tippie. It allowed me to become more well-rounded and connect with different people from in the business school and outside the business school. 

I took a non-traditional route where I probably emphasized more time in my extra-curriculars than in school, which is reflected in my GPA. But I think getting involved in different things allowed me to have different opportunities which was really, really helpful.  


Out of all your Tippie RISE experiences, is there one that really stands out as your favorite? 

Studying abroad in Russia really changed my life. My dad is from Russia and I went to Moscow, which is where he’s from, and I really just wanted to see where he grew up. By taking that semester and challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone, it allowed me to return and join different student organizations like Multicultural Business Student Association. It helped me realize what I needed to do to become more well-rounded as a businessperson.  


What have been your most memorable experiences at Tippie? 

Yesterday, I was actually thinking about when I’ve been the happiest in Tippie because obviously I haven’t been in the business building very much this semester. There’s nothing like walking through the BizHub or one of the gallerias and seeing your friends there. Stopping to talk to them on the way to class or sitting with them in Pat’s Diner, the connections and the friendships I made at Tippie are going to last a very long time. I met my best friends there, so it’s been hard this semester to not have those same experiences where you randomly stumble upon someone that you really care about. But reflecting on those memories is what helps to have such a positive experience – the community at Tippie, for sure.  


What would you say are some of the best lessons you’ve learned during your time at Tippie? 

For my commencement speech I’m actually talking about this! I have four top things that I’ve learned. 

Change is okay. It’s okay for things to not go as planned. The outcome is always going to be different from what you initially thought, but it could come out better than you were hoping in the endJust be accepting to change. 

Face the future head on. It’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. If you didn’t study for an exam, that’s your choice and the outcome is going to be what you put into it. Just acknowledge that the future is unstoppable, and it’s just about how let it impact you and how you’re going to handle the challenges that are put in your way.  

Failure does not define you.failed a class my junior year. I did not think I was going to; I thought the curve was going to help me. There was no curve. That was really hard to rebound from. I thought that I was never going to amount to anything and that this grade was going to determine the rest of my college experience. But I retook it the next semester and got a D. I moved to New York and got an internship in New York City right after. I think people put so much emphasis on failure in college and they don’t think they’re good enough or not going to achieve anything, but that’s just not the case. It’s how you respond to that failure. 

You determine your own path. There’s no set path that everyone has to take. As I said I’m a marketing major, but I took a photography class, I’m in an anthropology class right now and graphic design, and I did Alternative Spring Break. You don’t have to do everything by the book. You’re allowed to do what you want and enjoy and what’s going to help you become the best version of yourself. Do what makes you happy. Ultimately, you’re the only one that’s going to be having those experiences. 


In your opinion, what are some of the “must-do’s” that other students should do or experience before graduating? 

A must do at Tippie is getting to know your advisors and get to know the people in the UPO because they are very supportive, very positive people and they will always have your back. They’re more than just someone you can go to when it comes to classes.  

At the University, have a radio show through KRUI. I got involved with KRUI my sophomore year. I worked my way up to Marketing Director one year and was the Assistant General Manager another year, but I always had a radio show. It was a great way to just let looseplay music you wanted to hear, and show your creative side. I definitely recommend it for students.  

For Iowa City in general, volunteer! I really enjoyed every time I went to the Ronald McDonald House and volunteered there. It’s really a great way to give back to families that are going through something horrible and traumatic at the time. It’s also very easy; you get to cook, you get to spend time with your friends, you get to do something enjoyable. Looking for volunteer opportunities around Iowa City to give back to the community that does so much for the University in general is a great way to get involved.  


What are you most looking forward to in the next few weeks before graduation? 

I’m looking forward to graduation itself. It’s something that I’ve been working towards for the last four and a half years. You know, you go through these classes you don’t necessarily want to take and you’re just like, “when is this going to end, when am I going to get to do what I want to do?”. Now that time is coming for me. I’m excited to sit down with family and celebrate all the accomplishments that I’ve had throughout the years. 


Reflecting on your experiences at Tippie, is there anything you wish you had done or done differently?  

I wish I would have studied more. I would have spent more time focusing on the academic side rather than extracurriculars. Those experiences did really help me grow professionally, but the classes and the lessons you have in class are invaluable. I wish I would have paid a little bit more attention to my schoolworktaken advantage of office hours, and connected with professors more. Any professor is always going to be in your corner, regardless of how well you know them or not. But going the extra mile to get to know them can really help you in your future.  


Could you share what being selected as the Tippie Commencement Speaker means to you? 

This is something that I’ve wanted since freshman year. I knew that I was good speaker, it just was a matter of presenting myself well and showing that I was capable of doing so. I thought that the commencement speaker was someone who had the highest GPA. Obviously, as I said, studying was not my forte, so that’s not the factor for me, but it shows that my hard work paid off. The involvement and the experiences that I’ve put myself through – failing a class, studying abroad, having internships – have made me a well-rounded enough person to represent the class. It’s a huge honor that I was selected. I’m speaking for however many people are graduating and that means a lot that they think I’m well encompassed enough to do the job well.  


During these unprecedented times, with COVID-19 cases rising and all classes moving online, how are you approaching the already difficult task of preparing and delivering a commencement speech? How did you decide what you wanted to share at graduation? 

I had the privilege of working with Pam Bourjaily for 2 weeks, meeting twice a week, and she gave me really good feedback. I had some other people reach out and help me with my speech, which was really nice. While I’m disappointed that I can’t deliver it in-person, it also takes some of the pressure off me because I’m able to just record it by myself.  

I wanted to talk about my experiences because I think my path and what I did during my time here at the University is really unique, but I also wanted to make it relatable to everyone else. I decided to share stories and lessons I’ve learned along the way. Even if my specific story isn’t something that someone else went through, they’re able to take away the underlying message and apply it to their own situation. I wanted to really make sure that everyone felt included and that their story was also being relayed through what I was saying, even if we hadn’t gone through the same exact things.  

Faculty Research Highlight – Andrea Luangrath

Assistant professor of marketing, Andrea Luangrath, was recently recognized for her work on the study“Caring for the Commons: Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods, which was published in the Journal of Marketing on September 25, 2020. With a goal of understanding how to motivate people to care for public goods, Andrea described performing a series of “really fun” studies to try and instill a sense of ownership in users of public resources.  

To learn more about the research topic that Andrea later claimed, “resonates nicely with people, I hopped on Zoom to chat with the co-author herself. In the interview below, Andrea discusses her latest research publication including the motivation behind studying psychological ownership, using the findings for various marketing applications, and the importance of research related to social and environmental welfare.  


First, could you tell me a little about the concept of psychological ownership? How did you become interested in the topic? 

The concept of psychological ownership is one of my areas of research, so it’s an exciting topic to me. The idea for psychological ownership really originated in management. It was born out of this idea that it’s actually better if employees can feel ownership of their job and what they’re doing workwise. In those cases when they actually do feel ownership, it leads to really positive outcomes, like job satisfaction. 

One thing that’s important about psychological ownership is this feeling that something is mine; feeling like you personally have ownership, even if you don’t. Even in the absence of legal ownership, you can still feel like something is yours. You might not legally be an owner of a company, but you might feel like you have ownership of the company because you’re an employee of it. This feeling of ownership is really important. 

In this [research], we were interested in trying to find psychological mechanisms to get people to care for public resources. The general idea is if you can get someone to feel ownership of a public good, like a public park or public lake, then people will be more likely to care for that good.  

In general, I’m interested in why consumers do what they do. Broadly, I’m interested in human behavior. More specifically, I’m interested in consumer behavior and how people make decisions around the consumption that happens in their lives. To me, it was intriguing that we don’t necessarily need to be actual owners of something to be able to have consequences, as if we were actual owners.  

It’s intriguing that a lot of the psychological processes that happen behind the scenes can actually influence consumers’ decisions, purchases, and ultimately, their lives. Very broadly, I’m interested in those psychological forces, and I’m interested in those psychological forces because they’re independent of other types of forces.  

With this project you can think of a lot of ways that we can nudge or change behavior. But if we can nudge and change behavior with simple psychological routes, that’s actually very effective because you don’t need to enact social norms or levy fees for bad behavior. There are lots of other mechanisms to get people to behave in a way that you want them to behave. If you can simply try to have subtle manipulations to get people to care more or invest themselves in something, then we can nudge behavior in a very positive way.  


What drew you to start researching the effect of psychological ownership on public goods? Specifically, why public goods? 

This is such an important topic right now. You look at a lot of different factors that make this so important  dwindling public resources, climate change, a lot of issues around sustainability and environmental concerns – and there are a lot of questions about, how do we get people to take care of the environment and to take care of resources that they do not own?”  

In this context it’s a fundamentally important question, right? I think starting from that point [of a fundamentally important question] is often a good starting point with research. We attempt to do things that are relevant to people and that have really positive consequences. From a societal benefit perspective, this is an important question. That was really the motivation for setting out to do this research, especially in a public goods domain. 

A lot of the theories that we know about ownership can apply to products – apply to products we own, apply to searching for products and our purchase decisions – in a very consumer-oriented context. They can also apply very broadly to things like this, citizenship kinds of questions, and globally, environmental questions too. 


Typically, when thinking about marketing, my initial thoughts relate to the purchase of goods and services. How do you draw the connection between your research and other areas of marketing? 

Within marketing, it’s a very broad fieldA lot of the research being done in marketing [is] a wave of research called Transformative Consumer Research (TCR). There’s a whole bunch of people that are doing work [in the area of TCR] with the aims of bettering society. The whole idea is to study problems, to ask questions, to find interventions, and to conduct a lot of research around topics that are important to social welfare and for bettering our world. That really is one of the primary drivers of a lot of the research that happens in marketing.  

Often times peoples’ traditional notions of what marketing research should constitute, or what it does constitute, or the domains in which the theories apply would be a fairly narrow perspective. The reality is thaa lot of the work that’s being done is being done from a consumer welfare perspective and a societal welfare perspective. So, I don’t really see [my research] as incongruent, I actually see it as part of what is now a lot of the mainstream work being done in the field. 


What implications do you think your findings will have in other areas of research or marketing applications? 

One of main goals of this work – aside from studying a topic that was relevant for social welfare perspectives – was to create specific, actionable insights for managers. If you’re a manager of a public good, hopefully, from this research, you will be able to find interventions that are very simple. [The findings] are actionable interventions that anyone could implement to see potential positive effects.  

In terms of applications, there’s very direct application to what people could actually do. People could pick up [our research] paper and look at all the things we’ve tested, in terms of ways that you could manipulate and nudge behavior, to positively influence the likelihood that someone will care for that public good. Application-wise, it has very direct relevance to what managers could and should do for encouraging behavior.  


Where do you see this area of research moving in the next few years? Specifically, where do you see yourself pushing the area of research on psychological ownership into next? 

I have a number of different projects that study psychological ownership in different ways. I have some work right now that’s looking at psychological ownership in more of a product sense, but in virtual domains. I think there’s a lot of potential for exploring how we essentially feel ownership of digital goods, of goods even when they’re mediated by technology.  

The same can be considered in the context of public goods too. We often experience public spaces digitally before we even visit them. We might look at what a beach looks like, you might take a 360-degree tour of different monuments. We’re doing these things all the time, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for exploring the effects of ownership in a more digital environment. 


With social distancing still in effect and other areas of life continuing to be impacted by COVID-19, could you speak to the importance of your findings regarding the changes we’ve seen in everyday life? 

We know that in the pandemic a lot of people have turned to activities that are feasible for them. People have turned to outdoor activities. As a result, our national, state, and local parks have seen massive increases in attendance, and a lot of people utilizing these resources who might not otherwise or who don’t necessarily do it as frequently as they are now. From that standpoint, we’re seeing that there’s this massive uptick in traffic to these places. At the same time, the worry is essentially what they would call in economics, “the tragedy of the commons”, where common-shared resources are overexploited and under-cared for. The worry is that people don’t actually steward these resources and care for them. The ways that we tried to encourage that type of behavior are more relevant now than they ever are 


Would you say that your most recent published research is related to previous topics you’ve researched?  

I don’t do a lot of sustainability-related work – that hasn’t been a massive area of focus for me – but this idea of psychological ownership is a thread that ties together a lot of the work that I’ve done. Across a lot of my projects, you will see some measurement of psychological ownership and thinking about that as a mechanism to affect consumers’ behavior. That idea threads with this paper. This paper is just situated in a little bit more of an adjacent domain [to sustainability research], mostly because it’s such an important topic.  

The issue of stewardship and caring for our public resources is important. It makes sense for people of all different disciplinesmethodological approaches, and philosophies on science to figure out how to combat some of these issues. Approaching it from a marketing or psychological perspective is actually really important.  



You can check out this additional article on the Tippie website to read about some of the studies Andrea’s team performed. 

Andrea’s research on psychological ownership was recently selected to be featured in the Journal of Marketing’s webinar series on Nov 19th. Andrea and lead author, Joann Peck, will be giving an abbreviated talk about their research, with an open forum for participants to ask questionsIf interested in attending, the webinar will begin at 12 pm CST and you can register for the event here.  

New CRM Course Offered to Undergraduate Marketing Students

DEO and Professor of Marketing, Dhananjay (DJ) Nayakankuppam, is teaching a new CRM course this semester for undergraduate Marketing students. As the world of marketing continuously evolves, so do the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in workplace. CRM has been around for decades, but continues to advance in its applications for the increasingly digital marketplace. DJ provides an inside look at the course he is teaching this semester and why it’s more relevant that ever.


Could you start by telling me a little bit about the CRM course you’re teaching this semester? 

CRM (or Customer Relationship Management) is really a rather old idea but has burgeoned recently because of a slew of new tools that make it possible to practice in a much more powerful way than before. In the past, a ‘mom and pop’ store where the proprietor that knew all customers by name and their needs and shopping habits was, in a sense, practicing CRM. However, all the knowledge resided in his/her head. The explosion (and reduction in cost) of database technologies and computing power now makes it possible to employ similar concepts in a much more powerful fashion.

One way to think of CRM is that it is the marketing idea of segmentation on steroids. Segments of size 1. Instead of a focus on a purchase process, the focus shifts to customer lifetime value. The course can be thought of as equally divided between discussing marketing ideas in the CRM space and analytical tools for someone looking to work in this space.

Students can expect to be exposed to a range of analytical techniques for dealing with data typical of the CRM world. I should also point out that marketing jobs are increasingly shifting from the mass media/advertising orientation towards a more CRM orientation. If you work for Amazon, iTunes, banking (and many more…), there is CRM in your future.  

Is this the first time a CRM course is being taught at the undergrad or graduate level? Do you plan to continue teaching/offering the course in future semesters? 

I believe it is. Assuming there is demand for the course, we certainly plan to continue offering the course.  

In your opinion, why is understanding CRM important to marketing or overall business operations? 

The marketing world is increasingly shifting towards a CRM focus. I’ll not engage in the usual hyperbole of ‘X is dead, make way for Y…’. For many decades now, there has been an increasing shift away from mass markets towards more and more highly segmented markets. This process has accelerated over the last 15 years or so. Look, for e.g., at the rise of online retailers – Amazon, Suitsupply, iTunes, Spotify etc. are not interested in the money they make on their first sale to you – it is your lifetime value to them that they are interested in managing. Arguably, this has always been the case but it was operationally difficult to do in the past. In other words, while the principles have always been known, it was difficult to actually put into practice – we had to wait until database and computing technologies caught up. But that has happened now.  

Why do you think undergraduate Marketing students should have an understanding on this topic?  

Jobs….. in one way or another, this is likely in your future. The more prepared you are for it, the better your prospects.  

What do you hope your students will gain from completing the CRM course? 

Analytical skills for managing CRM and a greater appreciation for the creativity that is possible with a mix of analytical skills and marketing principles.

How is this course similar and/or different from the PhD courses you’ve previously taught? 

Ph.D. courses are designed to prepare one for a career in academia. You can think of it as the difference between basic science and applied science (like the difference between physics and engineering – physics may want to understand the nature of force, engineers want to build bridges). We often seem to imply that one is better than the other, depending on our individual proclivities. There is, in actuality, a back and forth between those two things in human knowledge. However, to do either well requires a very specific way of thinking – the constraints and challenges are unique to each discipline and getting the two mixed up can result in not doing either thing well.  

Ph.D. courses are designed to help you tackle questions in basic science – the emphasis here is on control. The real world is messy and everything is moving at the same time. So we build artificial laboratories that do not resemble the real world at all but they hold everything constant except the things we want to vary. This allows very clear inferences from studies. Are the findings useful in the real world? Sometimes, but sometimes not – sometimes, it might have to wait for other discoveries and creative combinations of various findings to make something useful in the real world. Einstein’s theory of ‘time dilation at near light speeds’ made mostly for interesting science fiction for a long time till we came up with GPS satellites that were 20,000 km above the ground, experienced weaker gravity and the clocks on these satellites ticked about 38ms faster than clocks on the ground. May not seem like much but it can really mess up someone in a car in rush hour traffic in Chicago if it is not accounted for.  

This course is different in that it is more applied in nature. We start with ‘Here are things we are pretty sure about as of now because we did these things in those artificial labs etc.…’. If you want to be able to use it in the messy, fast moving, real world, here are techniques that you will need. A bit like saying, “Here is the theory of force. Given that, here are equations and models you will need to build bridges.” 


A huge thank you to DJ for taking the time to provide an overview of his new CRM course.

Marketing in the Age of COVID-19

“Since March, I’ve been furloughed from my previous company, filed for unemployment, been recruited by a direct competitor of my previous employer (in the same industry), worked for that competitor for about 2 months, and then finally received a job offer with a company in the digital experiences space.” – Stephanie Coupland


It’s no question that COVID-19 has had some level of impact on all of us over the last 9 months. If you’re like Tippie Alum, Stephanie Coupland, you’ve experienced firsthand the direct impacts of COVID-19 in the workplace. Despite many challenges, the Tippie community is resilient. For companies and individuals, adjustments have been made, priorities reevaluated, and Zoom meeting fatigue is battled daily.

With all the change happening around us, life after graduation is sure to look slightly different than in past years. With that in mind, we sought out some answers from our Tippie family. They shared their insight on what marketing in the workplace looks like in the age of COVID-19.


Meet the brilliant Tippie alumni who volunteered to share their experiences and observations of the impacts COVID-19 has had on marketing.

Jillian Book: graduated in 2010, works as a Global Business Development Director for Publicis Media in the Advertising industry

Alexa Brown: graduated in 2017, works as a Marketing Analyst in the High Tech industry

Stephanie Coupland: graduated in 2017, until recently worked as a Marketing Specialist in the Trade Shows & Events industry,

Tom Lyons: graduated in 2017, works as an Account Manager in the Professional Sports Sales industry

Jill Kofron: graduated in 2018, works as a Sales Executive for Cottingham & Butler in the Insurance Brokerage industry

Matthew Koziol: graduated in 2016, works as a Category Manager for Anheuser Busch in the Beverage industry

Erin Foley: graduated in 2020, works as a Digital Marketing Specialist for J.W. Morton & Associates in the Advertising industry


In what ways has COVID-19 influenced marketing strategies within your company or across your industry? 

“This has been a very emotional, and disruptive time for a lot of people. The sports industry has had to deal with a lot of adversity, and had to create ways to still keep people interested in attending sporting events. Our marketing team had to come up with ways to keep our fan base engaged throughout the off season without coming off as tone deaf to the environment we’re all living in, which was not easy.” – Tom Lyons 

“When COVID-19 hit, the entire events world shut down completely. Our clients still needed ways to connect with a large number of customers at once, so events quickly shifted from live to virtual. Instead of focusing our marketing on how to create impactful live experiences, we now had to focus on how to do it virtually. With that came developing new content and marketing materials such as capabilities decks, blog posts, and informational webinars.” – Stephanie Coupland 

“We have had to shift many of our event strategies to online forums. We’ve created a whole webinar series to educate and inform our audience, rather than hosting in-person events, which had been a primary method of marketing to our community. This has forced our team to increase our agility and flexibility in terms of content creation.” – Alexa Brown

“Ad spend is forecasted to be down 20% from last year due to COVID’s economic impact. With nearly all major companies feeling uncertain about their business, it has driven our agency to behave differently. Our focus this year is on client relationships and our employees. Given the times of uncertainty, we are doing everything we can to weather the crisis together. Not only has this been a year marked by COVID, but also influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement. There is a renewed focus for both our clients and people on safety, mental health, and diversity and inclusion.” – Jillian Book

“Covid-19 has created a transparency apparent now more than ever. If a company was not being ethical, moral or even fair, folks know about it now. Marketing strategies have the ability to show the impact of who you are as a company, what you stand for, and especially bring light to who you are employing whether it be behind the zoom conference or even an email. People need people right now. Our company motto is “Better Every Day”, for us and for our clients. Through our marketing efforts, we’re able to communicate compliance updates, teach new strategies, and give voice to all the people who need it most during this time.” – Jill Kofron

“We’re starting to push a greater online presence to our clients during COVID-19. Rather than going to physical storefronts, customers are shopping online for the most part. Our tracking and reporting systems are becoming a lot more robust because of this, and we are able to show our clients how beneficial our digital work for them can be.” – Erin Foley

“CPG companies have been challenged to conduct business differently due to our interaction with consumers, shoppers, retailers, and wholesalers. I have listed the market reaction to COVID and our response below:

  1. Consumers are forced to enjoy in isolation.
    • Our advertising has catered to safety, overcoming adversity and welcoming the return of major sports to name a few.
  2. Shoppers are highly discouraged to purchase at bars and restaurants.
    • On Premise (Bars and Restaurants)- we have installed “buy back” programs and prepared “welcome back” packages to assist bars and restaurants during the peak of the shut down.
    • Off Premise (Grocery, Mass, Convenience and Drug stores)- we have shifted most of our channel focus to “Off Premise” retailers since sales trends are massive this year.
  3. Retailers need to enforce social distance and support changes in shopper preferences.
    • We have updated signage to promote social distance and installed “virtual sampling” with video embedded QR codes and trial size packages.
  4. Wholesalers are ordering as much as possible to support the massive growth.
    • Our logistics team is hard at work completing orders and closing out inventory gaps.
  5. Lastly, Suppliers (like us) are trying desperately to acquire more supply (namely aluminum cans) to support the growth.
    • Our buyers are sourcing more inventory from countries that were impacted less and have a surplus of inventory.” – Matthew Koziol


What are some of the biggest adjustments you/your team have had to make this year in response to COVID-19? 

“As most people would say, way more Zoom meetings! Although I haven’t experienced the office before COVID-19, my team members have said the workspace was very collaborative, and they would often congregate to discuss thoughts and ideas throughout the day. Now, we use Zoom for all meetings involving more than 3 people. Most of us are still working in the office since we all have individual working spaces. We’ve found ways to continue being collaborative, but you don’t see activity in the office like before.” – Erin Foley

“Personally, I have had to be mindful and careful about writing copy that is in-line with the current environment. We provide solutions to the retail sector, who has obviously taken a massive hit this past year. I have had to shift my usual tone of talking about store shutdowns or dark stores and spinning it as advantages for retailers. For example. using dark stores as inventory warehouses as retailers slowly reopen their higher trafficked stores first. Moreover, on social, I was pretty free to write about anything before the pandemic. I have to go through a chain of approvals now, which forces me to really think about what I’m writing and who I am writing to. We/I have to routinely be cognizant of the tone we use for all mediums.” – Alexa Brown

“My organization had to quickly pivot and start developing messaging and examples that showed that we could be great at virtual events, too. The other big adjustment was that over 75% of our company was either let go or furloughed indefinitely, which definitely affected the structure and responsibilities of the remaining individuals. The people that are left have to pick up the pieces and take on new duties that were left behind.” – Stephanie Coupland

“Our job is to serve our clients, before COVID and during COVID, that objective has never changed. What has changed is the avenue in doing so. Largely pre-COVID, we had many internal meetings together huddled in a conference, jumping on an airplane to deliver a presentation or working side by side with clients to uncover and solve problems. While our duties haven’t changed, the way that we deliver those has. Now we face zoom issues, technical difficulties, and building a client relationship through a computer. While it may have brought challenges, it’s made each and every one of us better client consultants.” – Jill Kofron

“My team is charged with managing the relationship with a large grocery chain. As an additional service, we also manage their total beer category as Beer Category Captains. Since many of our annual processes revolve around large meetings, we have needed to adjust to virtual meetings. Additionally, COVID-19 has driven sales figures up significantly and caused out of stocks for some suppliers. Because of this, we have been asked to ‘control’ for COVID-19’s effects for future space and assortment plans.” – Matthew Koziol

“We were lucky enough to be one of the teams that figured out a way to allow a limited capacity this season. In order to do so, the management team developed top of the line & innovative safety measures where people could feel comfortable at a football game. We then went from selling a 65,000 capacity stadium, to only 13,000 fans for just 8 football games.” – Tom Lyons 


Have your primary job responsibilities, priorities, or expectations changed since before the start of COVID-19?  

“My job changed drastically. I went from being fairly busy on a regular basis and traveling about once a month to having not much to do because our workflow stopped. A big part of my job was content creation. I had previously created that content with information from new client projects and things we were seeing at live events. When COVID-19 hit, I had to redefine my content strategy. No longer did people care about recent live events or successful client case studies. They wanted to see relevant content to the pandemic and virtual events.” – Stephanie Coupland

“There’s obviously a greater focus on technology and working digitally. My role includes pitching for new client business globally, so ensuring the technology is set up properly is crucial. It’s forced us to think through every scenario, planning for the worst and hoping for the best. In addition, with everyone working from home, it’s created a greater focus on balance and understanding that we are all humans.” – Jillian Book

“My position has become more analytical with the surge in digital content. Clients appreciate constant communication of their results from online campaigns and how they can generate a positive ROI from those results. Especially in industries that have been deeply affected by COVID-19.” – Erin Foley

“My primary responsibilities center around serving clients and growing business. If you read any of the recent news, you will hear something related to the insurance industry every day. It’s nearly impossible for our clients to keep up with every change of legislation or compliance coming their way. Not only are we managing our customary and usual job, now we’ve added keeping up with the ever changing environment. However, that’s what makes our jobs important and what makes me fall in love with my job more every day.” – Jill Kofron

“It’s all about making sure my accounts are looped in on what all of these changes means for them, and guiding them to what’s best for them and their family. COVID did unravel a quick turn around on a lot of different things for us such as opting out of their season tickets, rolling their account over to 2021, and even picking seats in a limited capacity configuration. More or less, there was a lot to take care of in a short period of time.” – Tom Lyons 

“Our priorities have changed slightly but otherwise my job has been the same. Essentially, we have placed more focus on getting ample inventory to support the surge in sales.” – Matthew Koziol

“Not too much. If anything, we have been busier than ever as we constantly work to churn out content since the whole world is at home right now.” – Alexa Brown


Are there any marketing trends you’ve noticed starting to emerge recently, either related or unrelated to COVID-19? 

“Everyone has been impacted by COVID differently. Some have lost loved ones, some have lost their employment or even their healthcare. What I’ve noticed most is people marketing or relating to people individually, rather than as a whole. People are taking the time to care for one and another, to help solve problems, and mostly trying to take the time to understand the issue at hand, and relate to them one on one. ” – Jill Kofron

“For us, it’s all about engaging virtually right now. We must take advantage of the zoom type trends that make people feel safe, yet involved in what they care about. It’s not an easy task, but it’s been a main focus of ours for the fans that still don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes to show we care.” – Tom Lyons 

“The shift to digital, both in the events world and outside of it. I’ve also seen recently that webinars and virtual speaker sessions are being shortened greatly. We’ve been doing this now for 6 months and people don’t want to sit through hour long presentations on their computers. It’s now very important to be able to say what you need to say in about 20-30 minutes.” – Stephanie Coupland

“Live, online events were a big emergence during COVID. Everyone had to ditch in-person events and either participate in virtual events/booths or come up with enough content to produce webinars to attract our audiences.” – Alexa Brown

“Many areas of business that have always done traditional media and advertising are now seeing how beneficial advertising on social media can be. While we still do print media, Facebook, for example, is one of the top sites for advertising and should be utilized. Some businesses that have been around for a long time didn’t recognize the growth opportunities that could come from it. I think COVID-19 is pushing those types of businesses in a direction that they hadn’t thought of before.” – Erin Foley

“Since COVID hit the US earlier this year, consumer behaviors have changed significantly. There’s more time spent with media overall, but particularly with TV, OTT (streaming), mobile and gaming. With more time spent streaming content, but delayed production schedules, many publishers within the industry are hungry to acquire new content. In addition, the growth of e-commerce has surged, achieving a 3-year forecast for adoption in just 3-months. While people will return to brick and mortar stores post-COVID, the adoption rates of online ordering will never decrease to levels prior.” – Jillian Book

“Unrelated to COVID-19, Hard Seltzers continue to take market share from Beer, Wine and Spirits as a merger of qualities from each of those categories. It exploded in August of last year but has been steadily growing for several years now. Expect a craft beer type innovation to drive growth in Hard Seltzers. There will be many brands with little recognition with a few mainstays dominating the market. Due to COVID-19, we have seen a shift towards trusted brands, like Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite and Coors Light.” – Matthew Koziol


What areas or applications of marketing do you think will see the most change in the next couple of years? 

“As we say in our industry: pivoting to customer. Creating experiences that are so personalized to consumers instead of broad marketing tactics. This includes honing in on specialized offers, emphasizing subscriptions, offering all channels for purchasing and pickup (BOPIS, BOPUC, etc.). Customers have so many choices these days. It’s important to pivot to them to maintain and gain their business.” – Alexa Brown

“Multicultural marketing will be a greater focus with companies committing to an investment to grow strategy with minority owned and operated publishers and content creators. Many businesses are acknowledging that their best efforts have not gone far enough and are committed to better serving all communities.” – Jillian Book

“I think development of online platforms, such as online learning, will continue to increase even after the pandemic is over. Many institutions, whether it be in the workplace or in schools, are realizing that their work doesn’t have to be done primarily in person. With that being said, I think marketing for emerging platforms that can foster online learning and remote work is going to be a lot more prevalent.” – Erin Foley

“I think in the years to come people are going to be digitally overwhelmed. I can’t say with certainty what the best marketing effort will be. What I can say is those that can develop something creative, that reaches people in a new way of contact, will be the way to create new interactions and grow any business. As I mentioned before people need people. We have to find a way to be responsible with regard to our health, yet have the human interaction we desire.” – Jill Kofron

“For us, we generally offer a lot of face to face events to build relationships with clients or prospects. I don’t see much of that happening going forward with it being such a liability. Cashless POS systems, push notifications on cell phones through different apps consumers may have downloaded seems to be the way of the future.” – Tom Lyons 


What are the most important skills or traits for a new grad to succeed in the changing Marketing environment? 

“The circumstances have changed but the job of a marketer have not. Find out what your customers are looking for and do what you can do to help them. As I mentioned above, their priorities may change but the way you help them does not need to!” – Matthew Koziol

“This goes for a changing marketing environment or not, but it’s work ethic. Especially when first coming out of college, you should strive to stand out.  

  • Expect the unexpected. Again, this wasn’t in the cards for most of us. Businesses who succeed coming out of this saw it as an opportunity to innovate and improve their current business to be flexible and able to generate revenue. Preparation + Opportunity = Success.  
  • Be innovative. Think of ways that can better your organization given the environment we’re in. Leaders truly appreciate and respect someone young and willing to speak their minds in order to better their organization.  
  • Be next up. In a time like this, managers look for people they can depend on in their teams to be their second voice. Being that person is important to career advancement. This has generated a lot of turnover in companies, which means positions open up for you. Make sure you’re the first person they think of when wondering who can fill the spot.” – Tom Lyons 

“I think new grads should keep an open mind about entering the workforce during this time and be adaptable. My advice is to network, be persistent, and find other ways to add value to yourself during this time. Whether that’s earning online certifications, finding temporary work in customer service, or something else—use this time to make yourself even more marketable than you already are. And hang in there because this won’t last forever!” – Stephanie Coupland

“I’ve been lucky enough to coach a lot of great people. Those that always impress me most have a deep curiosity and need to continuously learn. It’s table stakes to do a job well and to completion, but those who dive deeper and continue to be students usually rise to the top.” – Jillian Book

“You have to be flexible. If you set your mind on one outcome or strategy, there’s a good chance you’ll get burned. Employers are looking for employees they can trust, that are going to do what they say they will do. Most importantly, you have to be positive. The only thing that’s known right now is there is a lot of unknown about the future. If you can come into a new job with a fresh mindset, willingness to work hard, and be dedicated with an open mindset, you will far out succeed your peers.” – Jill Kofron

“Constant communication with clients is key. When businesses are sourcing out their marketing efforts to a third party, they don’t want to be completely uninvolved. They want to know how your work is benefitting them. Daily, weekly, or monthly detailed reporting will get you respect and trust from your clients and allow you to continue building a long-term relationship with them. This is especially important in the agency world, where most new business comes from word of mouth.” – Erin Foley

“It depends what sector of marketing you want to go into. Something I wish I would have had experience with before joining the field was having hands on experience with marketing tools. SEMrush for SEO, Adobe Illustrator and After Effects for content creation, and others. Instead of just showing you have a good understanding of the job requirements, showing you know how to successfully use the necessary tools will put you far ahead of others.” – Alexa Brown

Rob Rouwenhorst’s Journey to the Tippie Top

The name, Rob Rouwenhorst, is far from new news around Tippie. However, he does have a new title as Associate Professor of Instruction this year. I sat down with Rob to learn more about his work and what it is about Tippie that keeps him coming back. Rob has quite the interesting story and I think everyone could learn a little bit from his experience. Without further introduction, Rob Rouwenhorst!


Could you start by telling me a little about yourself? 

I was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Of note, I started up a computer company in the late 90’s with my best friend since the 2nd grade, called ComputeTHIS. That went gangbusters. So many stories there which we don’t need to get into. VCs that had taken Gateway public had talked to us about taking us public. Russian hackers broke into our servers. Got a ‘Cease and Desist’ and threatened lawsuit from Sony.  

Best story though is one of our accountants embezzled all of our money. We found out about it when he got a charge on delivery, a carton of cigars for $1200. I guess, hfilled out the shipping wrong, so it got sent to the office instead of his office. I mean $1200 even today would be a lot, but back in the late 90’s that was even more. So then we came to find out that our accountant had embezzled all our money.  

Then Jerry and I, it was a big decision of what to do, do we take the money we paid ourselves and invest it in the firm and come out swinging again? Or do we just part wayssay that was fun”, and move on to the next thing? We decided on the latter.  

Then I went to the University of Iowa and majored in Computer Science. My senior year I took a class in Marketing with Dave Collins. He was very good. I had the privilege of later on I’d be his head TA. I worked with him for years, watched that guy in the classroom, saw him outside of the classroom. I mean, he and I are friends now. He taught me so much, he was one of my chief mentors.  

So I was interested in Marketing now. I was a senior and I was like I could keep going for another 2 years of undergrad or I could get my MBA. I chose MBA. Normally, they don’t let in people straight out of undergrad, but I told them the whole computer story and they were like ‘okay, good 

Then orientation week, they were hiring for a TA and I got hired on with Irwin Lebin. He’s probably one of the most prolific researchers at Tippie. The guy is retired now and will still come out with half a dozen papers per year. So, Irwin hired me and he said, ‘I want you to interact with the class,’ and I had no idea what that meant because if you were a TA, you were either a grader or you led your own discussion section 

I was going to class with him every day; second week of class he asked me, “Rob, what’s your opinion on this?” I stood up and I started talking, and that was my calling in life moment. The energy return I felt from students was such that I knew I needed to do this the rest of my life. That was when I was 23.  

I’m very fortunate, you know, there’s this cliche that if you know what you want to do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I was so singular on this mission of helping other people become better versions of themselves that now this is all just play for me. The fact that I got that at 23… I realize how fortunate I am. 

What is it about Tippie that has been so appealing to you in furthering your career? 

Well, I came back, but I never really left. It’s a weird deal. Tippie was very nice to me. I came out into the job market in ‘08; ‘08 was not a good year. They had set aside money to start something known as the Marketing Institute. So they said, ‘hey, would you like a crack at this?’. So I helped start the Marketing Institute with several people. I was the director before Peggy, so I did that for about 4 years.  

Then St. Ambrose University in Davenport reached out and told me that they had this tenure track position, and they wanted me to come out. So I went there and did that. I was there 7 years then Iowa reached out and asked if I would be interested in coming back.  

The thing that brought me back and the reason why I love this place is just the people. Fabulous faculty and Marketing Department, staff, like Michelle Highly, are awesome. The dean had a vision for engaging with the community. I’ve always been a huge proponent of experiential learning because Marketing is tied to that. Experiential learning and getting students involved with real-world problems and companies, not only helps those clients, but also helps students sell themselves later when they’re looking for an internship or job. It’s a lot more valuable for everybody if we can get students engaged with the community at large.  

Can you tell me about your research and teaching interests and why you think they’re important to understand? 

My teaching interests are basically teaching effectiveness in higher ed. I’ve done things like clickers in the classroom, looking at flipped classrooms in terms of just changing the model, banning electronics in the classroom. Which how much greater than using clickers in the classroom to banning electronics can you get? I’m constantly questioning, you have to question yourself and you have to question the assumptions that everyone has.  

My current research is related to banning electronics in the classroom, which now with COVID, that’s a weird paper to submit. Now, I’m really doubling down on healthy habits, trying to get students to think beyond just marketingbeyond the domain. Think about how they can better themselves and having, hopefully, a growth mindset that they can improve intellectually, physically, emotionally. My refrain is being better versions of themselves and constantly improving. I think now more than ever that hits home. It’s very easy, in terms of not only in our culture, of just complaining, but also the pandemic and everything going on. It’s very easy to look at the negative side of things, but if you step back, there’s 7 billion people on the planet, so as long as you’re not dead last on the list, you’re okay. I think we’ve got to focus in on the positive and help students know that they can constantly and always change.  

Circumstances are a bit strange this semester, so how have you changed your goals for student outcomes? How are you staying flexible with all the changes? 

The outcomes don’t change, but the message and tools I use are flexible. I’ve always been interested in technology, given my background. So, way back in 2011, when we first started discussing online education and online BBA, I was coming out with content in classesI’m always interested in what’s the next channel and how can I use these tools that society is going to, in some cases, quickly adopt? The outcomes haven’t changed, the method and structure has.  

It’s interesting to me because Id take a week’s worth of content, which is 3 hours, and if I take that lecture and just do a video of it, which was my old method, I’ve only got about 45 minutes now. That freaked me out because I was like I’ve got 2 hours of discussion normally and now I don’t have that. The last few years, I’ve thought that 45 minutes is too long in an online environment. I mean if it’s a Ted Talk, that’s something that you’ve really honed and mastered, and you can maybe, maybe capture people’s attention for 16 minutes. So, I’m shortening the videos; I’m creating more content, but shorter duration. Certainly, Zoom is something that’s intriguing with breakout rooms and discussion boards, so I’m just trying to take advantage of all these different tools that we have available to us.  

What has been the most difficult part of planning for this semester?  

My kids. I’ve got 4 kids. I’ve got two boys, 13 and 11, and two girls, 9 and 5. That’s been the most difficult thing because the school system is changing and the options they give. So my kids are here and I’m trying to entertain them and trying to work.   

How have you then adjusted the format of your classes? 

I have gone into it thinking, and this is terms to taking advantage of different tools as opposed to just set in stone, I’ve got to be flexible. I’m taking advantage of the tools that I have to make sure that the live class has the ability to go online. Plus, those that have COVID or have worries, they’ve got an alternative to the live class. There’s discussion boards they can use and videos they can watch. It’s more work, but it’s worth it in the end when you’re trying to create the best learning environment for students. That’s where I get a lot of pleasure actually, trying to create the best environmenthelp students be better versions of themselves and then constantly questioning how can I accomplish that goal. The fact that I’m able to take advantage of technology and always push to be ahead of that curve means that when we switched to online in Spring, I already had videos from the online section of the class 

What has been your favorite thing about Iowa/ the University of Iowa/ Tippie? 

That’s a tough one because it depends on my viewpoint! Friday after class is very fun when you’re a student. It certainly has changed with time and with my perspective with going through the family lifecycle. I think that’s what I value about Iowa City. Regardless of your age, the opportunities and things for you to do, see, and experience, are some of the best in the state. So I’d have a different answer when I was a student. I’d have a different answer when I got married, now that I’m faculty and have kids. There’s lots of cool stuff.  

When I was a grad student, the equivalent of Film Scene, played movies I thought were really cool. The different things they put on at Hancher, even the Main Library will bring in really quality speakers or comedians, lots of cool performances at the Englert. It’s a really cool place regardless of your age or where you are in the family lifecycle.  

What do you hope to gain from your experienceWhat are you most looking forward to this year? 

There’s this old cliché of a wooden vessel or an old sailing ship, if you replace all the boards is it still the same ship? When I left and now coming back, I feel like everything has been replaced and I feel like a new person. Hopefully, better. What I value has changed. So, the reason I left back in 2013 was because tenure was so appealing. It was this special deal in terms of being an academic, it’s this reward you get for years of hard research and service. So, I had the nicest office at St. Ambrose University and then you get tenure, and in my experience and depending who you talk to it probably varies, but my experience was that it was very anti-climactic. There’s no parade, there’s no ceremony. You get a letter and it says congratulations and I was like, “that’s all there is?”. I went there for that, but I found it unfulfilling.  

The thing that fills my cup and makes me get up super excited every day is helping as many people as I can be better versions of themselves. My metric has completely shifted to that. That was one of the appealing things about coming back. If that’s my metric and that’s my personal mission, then being able to be exposed to and hopefully influence students is very powerful.  

It’s very easy to focus on the negative. I’ve got all these students who are either freaked out to come to class or who have been exposed and can’t come to class, so it’s like what can I say? I think helping students be better every day, help them see the positive light in all of this, help them get jobs and internships – that’s the positive angle for me. In terms of improving, this has forced all of us to use technology, whether we want to or notI actually like technology, so I’m not scared by it, but it’s different. You have to adapt with the timesyou have to learn it, master it, and figure it out, so that’s appealing to me. I look forward to working through that and hopefully, being a better instructor because of it.

Favorite quarantine activities/ hobbies? 

Personal fitness has become a huge deal for me. 7 years ago I was way overweight, so I started swimming and lost a lot of weight, so then I started looking at my diet. Now, I’ll do cardio for about 30 minutes, I’ll go weight training for about an hour, my diet is pretty specific, and my Apple Watch tells me my resting heartbeat is 38 beats per minute. What’s changed in terms of quarantine is since the pool’s closed, I’ve picked up running.  

Also, lots of family time. More watching movies with the kids at night, more going on bike rides with the kids. We also got a dog on March 6th! We had been searching for a dog for a year and we had really specific requirements because we have 4 kids and an elderly cat whose 15 years old, so we needed a dog that could get along with the kids and the cat. I was like Goldilocks, I didn’t want anything too big or too small. The dog has been incredibly awesome!