Students quiz the AMA at Thunderbird

Courtesy: Deepali Ramaiah
Courtesy: Deepali Ramaiah

On November 4th, Thunderbird was graced by the presence of the board members of the Phoenix chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), who were here to partake in a Q&A panel.  The panel consisted of: Jared Bodnar, the Director of Demand Generation at Infusionsoft and an entrepreneur working in B2B Marketing and Sales Expert; Sara Schmillen, the Director of Marketing Position with Kahala overseeing Cold Stone Creamery and Cold Stone Yogurt Bar brands; Brad Larson, the Vice President of Marketing for Thoroughbred Research Group; John Hogg Sr., the of VP Marketing & Communications for Valley of the Sun United Way/Now and currently working with Super Bowl Host Committee for 2015; Kari Cowden, the President of Connect the Dots Promotions as well as the VP of collegiate relations for AMA Phoenix.

The panel was a chance for students to get marketing leaders’ take on the different marketing fields, the challenges they face in their jobs, as well as understand where marketing is headed and understand what is required to pursue a career in marketing. A great deal of the discussion centered around how marketing varies when dealing with B2B versus B2C. The panel members spoke about how collaboration & co-branding becoming more vital and planning ahead as marketing is often considered by organizations to be an after thought. They also looked at trends in marketing methods with a large movement mobile & video for marketing products and services, with Google, Facebook, YouTube emerging as the kings in that arena. More than once the panel members emphasized the need to be relevant & engaging, especially with  media being so fragmented today. With people getting information from multiple sources online and offline, marketers need to be able to sift through the wealth of data available and ensure that it is relevant to the end consumer, particularly in a B2C context.

Talking about the B2B area, the panel spoke of the world being a different place post the economic recession, with much skepticism existing in the B2B sectors. Success, they said, is now being defined in the B2B are by how marketers can help businesses problem solve and ensure that they get their ROI, with emphasis on thinking and knowing about the customer’s problems (be it B2B or B2C) before they know they have it and try to solve it for them. The bigger a company gets, the more important the partnerships as it grows in scale. When a company is smaller, one to one and customer relationships are of more importance. Another key takeway was that every marketer will have a different solution or answer, mostly because marketers have to look at demographics and see what matters to their product, hence there being no broad sweep of answers that can be applied to every scenario.

Talking about careers, the AMA board members emphasized that networking has an even greater impact in finding jobs in marketing because the marketing world tends to be a small one. They advised students to never underestimate who can help them, to first get their foot in the marketing door, and to always to look at showing what they are doing expands into being valid in other areas, apart from marketing. Most spoke about find something to be passionate about but also have a back up plan to your main career; if without a a passion, being open to what may come along the way as one never knows what one may find and how it can become one’s focus. The panel also mentioned that students must always seek companies whose vision and values match their own.

As for what makes them tick, despite having different functions, most of the panel agreed that wanting to create more value in the company and having a meaningful impact in the organization as well the community at large. Another common theme was the thrill of asking themselves what am I going to do today, and sometimes not knowing it or having to adjust it on the fly, which extends to every aspect of marketing.

Despite being an hour and half long session, the time just flew. The Thunderbird Marketing Association is looking forward to having the AMA back on campus in Spring!

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