For instructor Carly Pierson, marketing is much more than just a subject she teaches in class. As a result of the combined knowledge gained from coursework and real-world experience, this marketing instructor aims to provide students with unique and relevant examples to aid their learning.
Carly’s journey at Missouri State University began as a student. She first arrived on campus undecided between a major in either business or education. After realizing her skill sets and interests best aligned with the Marketing Department, Carly declared a major in Advertising and Promotion and never looked back. Her journey at Missouri State continued when she decided to pursue an accelerated Master of Business Administration.
While a student, Carly networked and built lasting connections with faculty members in the department. Instructor Sherry Cook recognized her hard work in the classroom and recommended her for an internship position at Meek’s, a locally based hardware and lumber supply chain. She attributes this opportunity to her diligence as a student. “If I had been a poor student in class, Sherry would have never called on me for this opportunity,” says Carly. At first, she was hesitant; a woman with a hot glue gun tattoo, glitter all over her carpet and a pencil bag that says “Cat Lady” did not seem like the ideal hire for a lumber and hardware company.
Carly took the opportunity and served as an intern in the organization’s marketing department where she worked with a team to coordinate corporate events. This internship later led to a full-time job offer at Meek’s, which she gladly accepted while concluding her final semester in the MBA program. As Marketing and Events Coordinator, Carly worked in a well-established marketing department focused on planning and hosting up to fifty events per year. These events were focused on building relationships with B2B (business-to-business) customers and included private golf tournaments, fishing tournaments and clay shoots. In the role, she learned to be adaptable and how to focus on what truly mattered to customers. “A beautifully designed invitation matters to me, but as long as the information is correct, the design doesn’t matter so much to the roofer we’re inviting to play golf,” says Carly. Not only that, but events often have problems. They once had to cancel a fishing tournament because it was sleeting on the lake in May. They hired a celebrity to sign autographs and he would not sign unless he had a silver Sharpie. They hosted an event for one thousand people and the heat did not work until right before they opened the doors. She believes that great event planners and marketing professionals are open minded problem solvers.
After nearly five years at Meek’s, Carly accepted a position with an independent insurance agency, Ollis/Akers/Arney, as their Marketing Coordinator. Her experience in this role was completely different from her time at Meek’s. Instead of working with a team, Carly became a marketing department of one. “I was the first full-time marketing person they had hired in a company that had been in business for more than a hundred years,” Carly says. In fact, she developed many of the organization’s first marketing strategies. In this position, she served as the project lead for a company-wide rebrand project with Revel Advertising. Along with a complete brand refresh, the company changed its name after merging two well-established insurance agencies. It was much more than just a new logo, email address, reprinting business cards. Carly explains, “It meant bringing together two families who had created and run their own brands for decades, then asking them to leave that behind and do something completely different.” The experience gave Carly a new perspective on how hard it is to change something that is already built and taught her the importance of project management skills.
While working, Carly was invited to teach as a per-course instructor in the Missouri State Marketing Department. Although hesitant at first, she realized her experience could add value to the course material. She accepted the invitation and spent her lunch breaks and evenings teaching. Carly never had any plans to become an instructor, however, these classes helped her realize how much she enjoyed teaching marketing.
In January 2016, Carly returned to Missouri State to become a full-time instructor in the Marketing Department. The position allows her to keep up with the world of business and stay relevant within the industry. She uses applicable examples from her experience—both at Meek’s and Ollis/Akers/Arney—to provide students with a clear illustration of marketing concepts and their application. “It’s really interesting to remember back to when I was a student here and how that influences some of my class decisions,” says Carly. “Both of the companies I worked for were B2B…sort of the hidden element of marketing because you need to be another business, connected to that business, to even be exposed to the marketing.” She went on to explain how consumers often think advertising and marketing are the same. Her goal is to provide students with unique examples and expose them to both aspects of marketing, not just advertising directed toward consumers.
Having experienced the world of marketing as a student, a professional and as a faculty member, Carly has developed a passion for theindustry. She describes how marketing can be applied almost everywhere, even if it is not part of your job title. She has used her expertise in marketing to assist the local community through volunteer roles and non-profit organizations. As president-elect for the Ozarks Counseling Center Board of Directors, Carly uses her background to make marketing decisions and strategy that support the organization’s mission. She says, “Everything is marketing…selling your house, renting out your Airbnb, even getting someone to go on a date with you!”
When looking for new opportunities, Carly recommends students get experience with an internship and not to be closed off about what that means. She says, “Be open-minded, creative and open to new possibilities. For example, Meek’s, a lumber and building material company…I would have never thought that’s where I would intern and work. But I loved everything about being in marketing there—it was influential to my life and I was exposed to all sorts of new things.”