Digital Marketing Professor and Researcher
University: Western Michigan University
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Scott Cowley is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Haworth College of Business at Western Michigan University, with a research focus on digital marketing strategy and education. His most recent work takes a comprehensive look at how digital marketing, social media, and marketing analytics are currently being taught in U.S. undergraduate marketing programs.
He also helps direct WMU’s Digital Marketing & eCommerce program, one of the only interdisciplinary digital marketing and technical programs in the U.S. He loves building the next generation of marketing talent through innovative, skill-oriented projects, like the BuzzFeed Marketing Challenge.
Prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Arizona State University, he was head of search engine optimization for a publicly traded company and client strategist at a digital marketing agency.
We asked Cowley a few questions. His answers are below:
I use Digital Marketing Essentials in my Digital and Social Media Marketing course, which was the most popular course in our business school this semester (hoping this isn’t the last time I get to say that). Students really appreciate how approachable the textbook language is.
WHAT TEACHING TIPS WOULD YOU SHARE WITH OTHER PROFESSORS?
There are things I do that everybody should replicate, and other things that are simply worth testing to see if they mesh well with your personal teaching style. Many of the things that professors might assign as projects in a class like this, we do during class instead. I find I can transmit more skills in a semester by using class time this way.
When it comes to homework projects, I have 2 main criteria:
- Is it relevant enough to accomplish learning goals and be something a job interviewer would consider worthwhile experience?
- Is it cool enough to get us written about in the business school’s newsletter?
So, I might pass up a dozen different client projects in favor of one with real impact or uniqueness. Impact was when we helped the city airport do all of the analytics and usability research that informed their website redesign. Uniqueness was when we arranged to send the whole class to see a touring Broadway show for free, with the requirement that they be Instagram influencers for the production.
If you leave space each semester to do the exceptional, you’ll be more likely to notice and seize exceptional opportunities.
Frankly, I just never want to be bored with what I do and I want to push the boundaries enough so that my own experience and experimentation might help another professor. Projects I’ve created for my own classes are being used at dozens of other universities worldwide, and that doesn’t happen by getting complacent.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES AND TALENTS?
I’m pretty passionate about digital marketing education and somewhere between hobby and talent, I enjoy helping and learning from other professors who care about this too. Otherwise, I love spending time with my wife and three daughters, seeing National Parks, watching NBA games, playing piano, racquet sports, and engaging in intellectual conversation (i.e., jokes) on Twitter @scottcowley.
CONNECT WITH SCOTT COWLEY
Thank you, Scott, and congratulations!