Danielle Unnerstall came to Springfield and Missouri State University to get a degree in marketing and a minor in design. But her heart was still back where she was born and raised, Washington, MO. When she graduated with her bachelor’s in 2007, she and her husband moved back. Now, she works for the Bank of Washington as the director of marketing and public relations officer, and she loves being able to apply many facets of her education to a local business in her hometown.
About an hour away from St. Louis, Washington is in the heart of Missouri wine country. It has a central location in both the Hermann Wine Trail and the Augusta Weinstrasse, America’s first wine trail. The downtown area boasts several original structures from the town’s founding, and hosts a number of festivals, especially food, art, music and holiday. Now, it is also well known for the enormous Washington Town & Country Fair it’s hosted since 1872. Despite a rather small population, the history, waterfront and community give the town a charm that instills a strong local pride in its community members. “All of these events center around our community individuals and organizations coming together and wanting to keep Washington such a great place to be,” Danielle says. She says that the volunteerism and community spirit of the town, along with its strong industries, are what make it a successful and thriving community.
Danielle points out three specific reasons she loved getting her marketing degree at Missouri State: the focus on research, the business components and her design classes that complemented her major. The research focus of her marketing classes into markets, competitors and products has been invaluable to Danielle in her work. “Determining marketing and product strategy is something that is applicable every day,” she says. Danielle also says that she is glad that Missouri State’s marketing program was housed in the College of Business. The extra classes in statistics, accounting and economics allowed her to have a better overall understanding of business operations. This additional knowledge of business concepts has helped her expand her marketing position into more involvement in other aspects of the company.
At the Bank of Washington, Danielle says her main task is to align the bank’s business strategy with the marketing and public relations initiatives. She accomplishes this through a variety of means, such as handling the marketing budget, generating marketing plans, designing marketing campaigns, writing press releases and developing product rollout strategy. She says, “Every day is definitely different than the day before, which keeps it interesting.” She also feels that her work at Missouri State helped prepare her to handle all these duties and more.
It wasn’t all work though. Danielle’s favorite memory of school was a competition in her Advanced Advertising class to name the then-newly-formed bus transit system. Danielle’s team won, and many of their ideas and designs were implemented. Now, she loves coming back to campus to see the “Bear Line” running and knowing she was a part of it.
Despite loving Springfield, Danielle is glad she got to go back to Washington. She says she loves the city for its commitment to community volunteerism, strong schools and strong industries, all of which she gets to be involved with. “It would be difficult to grow up in our community and not feel a sense of responsibility to giving back,” Danielle says. She volunteers to help with the fair every year, and her husband, Spencer, coaches football and baseball at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. They have one son now, Charlie, but are expecting their second child in a couple of months. Among all of these activities and responsibilities, Danielle says balancing work and home life has been an adjustment. Luckily, she has a strong support team of family members and friends close by for when scheduling gets complicated. She and Spencer also love involving Charlie in their activities whenever possible; reportedly, two-year-old Charlie is Borgia’s number one fan, already singing the school song when he attends games!
Danielle has a lot of respect for Bank of Washington because of its family focus, active involvement in the community and commitment to staying up-to-date with banking technology and competing with the “big banks.” The bank has been a community bank market leader throughout its history, being the first to have a “walk-up” teller window in 1954 and currently working on deploying Apple Pay and Android Pay for its customers. When the marketing position opened up after she returned from school, she applied immediately.
The biggest challenge of being a marketing professional today according to Danielle is staying current with all the avenues of communication and then being able to apply them in an effective way to reach customers. “Technology and how it can be applied to make banking more convenient for our customers is definitely the most intriguing piece of the financial industry right now…researching and continuing to learn about both industry and marketing trends is always a priority.” Danielle is glad to have a job where she can stay up-to-date with the latest in marketing, contribute meaningfully to the community and stay close to her family.