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What entices twenty-nine Marketing Professors from sixteen different Universities to brave ‘Polar Vortex 2014’? Why would anyone (especially well-educated professors) give up vacation time to convene for a two day conference… especially the week before classes begin, in temperatures well below the freezing mark?

They’re crazy! You might guess.  If so, you’re right.  We are crazy about the DMAW Education Foundation (DMAW/EF) Professor’s Institute! Why?

Maybe the speakers… What a powerful line-up! Start with Digital Analytics from Ernst & Young, add PBS and the analytics they utilize to understand Downton Abbey’s audience.  Season Premieres are a great way to get a conference rolling. Then throw in some senior level folks from RocketFuel and VW of America and add Twitter TV Conversion tracking.  Now, we can’t wait to watch the Super Bowl on TV simultaneously tweeting about it; to see what they have in store. Then… suffice it to say, high powered, intelligent, practitioners kept intriguing information rolling at that pace the whole conference.

Maybe the subject matter… Big Data, Multi-Channel Marketing, Social Data Intelligence, Digital Advertising, Case Studies, Online Reputation Management; all topics we need to explore in the marketing classroom. DMAW/EF’s Professor’s Institute armed attendees with current, relevant, thorough examples to share with our students and inspire our research.

Maybe the job opportunities for our students… “We need Analytics Talent. There is no shortage of opportunity.” In the first presentation of the conference, Amy Sample, Senior Director of Digital Analytics at PBS made this bold statement.  Then, every speaker reiterated her sentiments.  ‘Bring analytics into the classroom’ buzzed through conversations in the halls during breaks.  Speakers continually reinforced the importance of analytics and provided case studies and examples to bring the topic alive in our classrooms.

Maybe the networking opportunities… Have you heard the one about getting a bunch of marketing professors together? I’m certain you could create a great punch line.  What really happens? … lots of chatter.  Each time I attend the Professor’s Institute, I come back with tips, resources, ideas and questions to explore; not just interesting information from the speakers but from my colleagues.

Maybe it’s all of that… and a free lunch (actually two lunches, a breakfast and a dinner)!

Maybe we’re just CRAZY about the DMAW/EF Professor’s Institute… It’s on my 2015 calendar. Thanks to the DMAW/EF, their leadership Circle, and especially PMG (the sponsor) for another AMAZING conference.

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Paula T. Morris is a Professor of the Practice in Marketing at the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. She’s a DMAW member and frequent Professor’s Institute attendee.