Thursday, February 25th was a good day for the Taylor Institute. It was a day that epitomized the mission of the institute and hopefully the vision that Gary and Karen Taylor had when they established it back in 2004. The mission of the Taylor Institute is to develop and inspire future business leaders in the area of direct/interactive marketing through education, research, and service. The key words in that phrase, in my mind, are “develop” and “inspire.” And Thursday had many opportunities for both of them.

Long before the start of a given semester, one of my roles as the Director of the Taylor Institute is to plan and coordinate opportunities and events that allow students in the College of Business Administration (CBA) here at the University of Akron to meet marketing professionals and provide for experiential learning. We have several ways we do that throughout the school year. Students can join our social media agency, learn new techniques in the marketing analytics lab, or attend one of our networking events – just to name a few of them. All of these events are made better and more relevant with the help and assistance of marketing professionals. We had two events on the 25th that gave students a chance to meet some fantastic marketers and, fingers-crossed, allowed then to learn a thing or two from them.

The first event of the day was our February session of Lunch with an Innovator (LWAI). LWAI is our monthly speaker series that gives a group of students a chance to sit and have lunch with a leader in digital marketing and have a chance to really pick their brain on where things are headed in marketing. We are very fortunate this semester in that all of our speakers are recent graduates of the CBA and work for some very well-known brands. Our speaker on the 25th was Kelli Shultz, a 2013 grad who is currently a National Accounts Strategist at Pandora in Chicago.

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Kelli shared, to nearly 100 students, the role data and analytics play at Pandora and how this data provides valuable information back to the music artists and ensures that, as a listener, only the most relevant music is presented. And the ability for Pandora to better understand its subscribers because of the listener data ensures that the Pandora advertisers can target the very best prospects. Kelli shared some examples of how they do this and how they do this very well, delivering an increase of 7% incremental sales and 3x the return on their advertising spend for one of their clients. It was great to hear from a student that only two years ago was in that very same spot as those in the audience. We are very grateful that Kelli stopped by and inspired our students.

Later, in the evening of the 25th, the Taylor Institute had its first agency tour of the semester to Sanctuary Marketing Group, a digital marketing agency in North Canton. Agency tours are another opportunity for students to meet marketers and learn about the reality of working in an agency. The institute started doing these events on a monthly basis a year ago and it has really given students an eye-opening opportunity to learn about a company culture, what they do, and what the student needs to do to start a career in an agency. And several students have received offers for either internships or full-time positions because of this exposure. Sanctuary was an excellent host and in addition to their staff and our students, they invited members of the Akron/Canton chapter of the American Marketing Association to also meet and network.

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Sanctuary gave students a tour of their office, discussed some of the work they do for their clients, and prepared a great presentation on social media marketing that elicited a lot of feedback and comments from those in attendance. I even learned a thing or two about how we can better use our blog posts in our social media activities. This was a great example of the perfect agency tour and the perfect day at Taylor Institute.

We are appreciative of our partners and those that support the Taylor Institute and the CBA students that attend these events. As I mentioned earlier, all of these events are made better through these partnerships. If you are interested in engaging with the Taylor Institute – we would love to have you help make our mission a reality for students. Send us an email to