An UMSL Professor with a Big Dream and a Bigger Heart

Perry Drake, UMSL Professor

Featuring: Perry Drake

Recorded on: March 28, 2016

Show Description

Video Hosted by Brightcove

On Episode 44, AJi is introducing a new format of the Midwest Marketing Show called Stories. For this show, Jeff Julian and Perry Drake on-site as they discuss Perry’s influence and journey in the digital marketing world. We will also hear from a couple of Perry’s students as to why he has been successful as an educator, and see him in his day to day activities.  

Perry is currently an Academic Director and Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri Saint Louis (UMSL) where he helped develop the digital marketing program/classes the University now has. And in the words of his students, he has been giving them the knowledge and the confidence to tackle the world of digital and social media.

Don’t forget to join Perry, AJi, and other thought leaders from organizations like Venture Café, Google, Nickelodeon, and Under Armour at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference this year! Learn from the industry’s experts about innovation, disruption, entrepreneurial thinking and making the most of the resources and interconnectivity we have.


Show Transcript

[Voiceover] The Midwest was formed by explorers, those who are willing to risk everything to see a better future. While our lands are still rich with agriculture we are more than just flyover country. Our former cow towns are now business hubs and technology innovators. On this show we tell the stories of focus marketing in the middle. This is the Midwest Marketing Show. Welcome back to the Midwest Marketing Show. This is Episode 44. And this week we're going to try something new. We're going to incorporate a story and with this story we went to St. Louis to the University of Missouri - St. Louis, or UMSL, and we did an interview with a professor there named Perry Drake. And Perry has an interesting story. He is a former NYU professor, taught some of the first classes of marketing and analytics from a digital perspective. And he has started to incorporate his students into some new innovative ideas on how they can continue their education. And so through this Stories format you won't see us sitting in the studio like this and recording one on one conversations that I've had. Instead you'll see us doing interviews on site. You'll see several other takes of the interviewees, like students, Matteo and Kathrin, that we've interviewed. And then you'll also hopefully see some of the day life. So we've recorded a lot of time inside Perry's class which was awesome to work with his students during that day. And so some other formats we're going to introduce. We'll still do the one on one interview, but our hope is to make it in a local event. And so we want to invite our clients and our friends into these events, and then have a speaker do the one on one interview with me, and then also give a little presentation that we'll record and share with you. And the next form of podcast that we do will be called Connections. And Connections will bring the podcast and our setup to an event and to a conference. And this is where John and I really got started in podcasting almost a decade ago. Over a decade now. Where we would bring this, a setup, not this exact setup, but one very similar, to a conference, and we would interview as many people as we could. And the idea is to show the community what's going on at these conferences, what you can do. And so we can't wait to continue to extend this buildout and we hope to bring on some new sponsors to allow us to go even above and beyond what we're capable of. And so, without further ado I really want to introduce Perry Drake in this first Stories format. And I hope to hear your feedback, and so bring it to Twitter, or email me at, and let me know what you think. So here it is - Stories.

You can just go up to him, ask him questions. He is always there. He is sharing his passion. He is very enthusiastic in class. He has so many ideas, it's just boom, boom, boom, and he is sharing everything so you can really see and follow him in his steps and learn from him. And he is also, he's got a lot of stuff up in his head. So it's really nice to talk to him because he has always something to give to you that you can learn from. This is really nice.

He's more hip. I think that also like helps us want to kinda talk to him, get to know him, be with him. I mean I think that's the big thing. It's just like he fits with us, but he's also enthusiastic and knows a lot about the subject, and he's usually approachable, like Kathrin said. I think those are the big things for sure.

Other professors are also very approachable but they're just like, you know, they're not like Perry. I think I really, I really like classes with Perry.

So, you know, Perry is going to just kinda talk about what you--

[Voiceover] Wow, that's a stunning recommendation. So let's learn a little bit more about Perry Drake and how he got started in his career as a marketer and a professor.

Yeah, no-no, that was, at that point of time I kind of left corporate and got pulled into academia at New York University in '97 and was involved in their very first Master's degree in Integrated Marketing, which back then was just bringing in telemarketing and direct mail which are kind of both dead now for the most part. But again, cutting edge. So involved in that program kinda from the start which was great, and then around 2005, 2006 we started a digital marketing certification program where I probably taught the very first web analytics class that was ever taught. Google Analytics was not even around at that point in time and I was using a tool called ClickTracks which was a Canadian company where you fed log files in. And so, no-no, I was in the right place at the right time, right there, right at the start of the whole digital explosion.

So what brought you to St. Louis?

Well, my wife and I are originally from St. Louis. We left here in '97 and were in New York City for 28 years. And I had started talking with UMSL and UMSL was interested in the programs that I was helping create at NYU. We went back, it took about a year to kinda solidify the arrangement, and my wife and I just thought, as you probably know the story, out of St. Louis and always come back, when you leave you always come back to St. Louis. So we're another example of that. We just kinda felt like after 28 years it'd be nice to kinda come back to St. Louis and be in a slightly more relaxed sort of environment.

[Voiceover] It's always great to hear that people come back to the Midwest because it's a place where you can relax, it's a place where you can grow your family, it's place where you can have friends and hang out, and still have some distance between you and your neighbors. But in digital marketing things got really interesting and the students that were coming out of university needed to have new programs thought of that allowed for them to have that experience they needed to hit the ground running while the ever changing landscape of digital marketing caused everything to be disrupted.

The best part is just come and work comfortable. Like, you know, Perry came in one of the basic marketing classes, talked about all of this, and like, well, it seems like this is the future. I had no idea like where I'm gonna go as far as marketing, took his classes, and just felt he gave me the confidence, and like, okay, I'm ready to graduate, I'm ready to go into the world of digital media, social media. And I know like how to do it, I know what to do and how to do it. So that just gave me the confidence. Really it's like the best part I would say.

So tell us a little bit about the program with digital marketing and social media.

Right. Right. Yeah, again, kinda of coming in, it was kinda starting from scratch because there was no real textbooks that were teaching this sort of thing. So I began creating a Digital Strategies class for undergrads and grads and a Social Media Marketing class for grads and undergrads. And now we're three years in to the programming so we actually have a certificate in Digital and Social Media Marketing for MBA students. 12 full credit hours. Sowe've got Digital Strategies, Social Media Marketing Strategies. We have special seminars in digital and social media where I bring in an email expert. And it's a two-day intensive workshop. I bring in a mobile marketing expert, it's a two-day intensive workshop. And I believe Display Advertising is the other one. And then we have a practicum class, which can talk about as well, which is kind of a "lab". So that's the agency that my students run. And then we also have a minor. We just got last year on minor in Digital and Social for undergrads.

Oh cool

Which is kinda cool. Yeah, so I mean, I'm kinda proud of the fact that the university's been very involved and responsive to kind of what we need to do.

Yeah, I mean I'm actually from Germany so we don't have these classes at all. There is no cooperation between companies and professors and students. So I was really, I was really glad get to take his class. That was really nice. Because he is so enthusiastic about it, so he actually shares ideas and knowledge which makes it much more easier to actually learn by doing.

So tell me a little bit about this agency inside the program.

Yeah, I'm excited about that. So I started that two years ago. That's kind of a practical class for both the Master's degree certification and the undergrads minor. They really can't take that until they've taken the Digital Strategies and Social Media Marketing Strategies because it's not really a learning class, it's a practicum class. And what we do is we take on clients, we take on our St. Louis non-profits.


And startups. That's it. And we just help them out with whatever they need in terms of digital, social marketing plans. So we could be building them a new landing page, particular effort, or redesigning their web site, or building out their social media strategy, or helping them refocus Facebook. It just depends on what's needed. What's great is it's a win-win for St. Louis. So it's a win for the non-profits which can't afford this sort of things sometimes, and the startups which are struggling with resources, and then totally a win for the students.

Well, my aspirations are to get a job in, you know, digital media, social media. And I'm so surprised UMSL helps me, I mean, the internships, all the job opportunities they offer like they bombard us with emails as far as, like hey, there's jobs in this field, this field. And just the staff like Perry and all these people, like all the staff that we know they have connections and network in these communities.

And as far as UMSL, I've been in it for eight months now. I'm in the digital and social media lab with Perry. We get to do real work right now as students and get to talk to companies and plan the conference. And just, you have responsibility and you're doing actual work.

[Voiceover] So you may be wondering like I was, how does he even do this? Let's look into what Perry's day actully looks like. So one of the recommendations you have on LinkedIn was from Heather and she says that "Perry is doing "for the St. Louis community, and specifically UMSL, "what Henry Ford and Steve Jobs did for the automotive "and technology industries." That's a pretty high bar to set. From the sound of it, you're doing some pretty innovative stuff.

Yeah, I kinda, I'm a real collaborator. And the dean actually gave me, besides being an assistant teaching professor he gave me the title of director of business collaboration. If that kinda gives you the indication. So when people ask me which is funny on campus from a different faculty, "What's that mean?" I say, "Well, it just means I'm not on campus that much." I'm not there embedded in the community, just looking for opportunities to engage my students with business, bring business here, things along those lines which is fun and kind of exciting. Again especially in today's world where that real life practicum has to kinda come into the classroom as everything is being disrupted so quickly.

[Jeff] Absolutely.

[Perry] Yeah. Yeah.

[Voiceover] So that brings us to this conference. The Midwest Digital Marketing Conference is on April, 21st this year, in downtown St. Louis at Union Station. But this conference isn't just for students. Tons of marketing professionals actually come to this event. But rather than spoil all the fun now, let's listen to why Perry started this conference and some more details about how you can join in the fun. Let's talk a little bit about the conference itself. What was the origin of the event?

Well, it started, I started here at UMSL in January, 2013. And my community grew pretty quickly through the power of Twitter and LinkedIn. You know I didn't know anybody because my wife and I were away for 28 years. So I just worked Twitter and LinkedIn like you would not believe to find the influencers, find the community. I started reaching out to a couple of my contacts in New York and say, hey, can I get you to comment through a Google Hangout and talk with my students, or whatever. And a couple of them said, well, I'd be happy to fly out for you if that's what you wanted. And I thought, "Well, you know, heck, if you're going "to do that I'll just maybe have a little mini conference "that won't just be for my students." So that's kind of what started it. So April of 2013, after only being back not even four months I held my first State Digital Mini Marketing Conference on April, 2nd, here on campus totally through the power of social media. I just pulled in 425 industry professionals and no advertising budget whatever. I organized it myself which was a lot of pressure. But it was an awesome event. So that was kind of a catalyst for it. Then the next year we were in the auditorium here on campus. We extended up at about 550. I did a full-day event with bringing in Google, Twitter, IBM, and that was kind of a TED style format. You put a guy up there, 18 minutes, two-minute Q&A, down, next guy kinda comes up. Great event. This last April we had our third annual. We outgrew the J.C. Penney Conference Center at about 725 which was a record for attendance in the conference center. And we had about 40 speakers total, so a bunch of concurrent sessions going on, speakers talking simultaneously. Again, tried to bring in the thought leaders from Under Armour, Nickelodeon, Google, Yahoo, all the big names, bring in those thought leaders to St. Louis area.

When you started the conference, was the goal to attract professionals for the school or was it to integrate students into professional--

It was twofold. So my goal is a dual purpose. Really it was to help showcase UMSL as kind of a thought leader in this particular space and also use it as a vehicle to help teach the students, give them access to maybe industry professionals that they wouldn't have access to as well. So those were my two dual goals.

I'm really just interested in what all these speakers have to say that I don't know, like the new thing, you know, the new emerging things that they see coming that I clearly don't see. Let them speak, explain it and then engage in and talk about what they talk about with other people and see like different viewpoints. I mean for me, it's just that experience like what do they have in their experience, in their business, you know, what do they see and how I'm going to take all that into account when I go there and listen to it and use that information. Like give me a job and the work in the field and stuff.

Yeah, also the whole experience to be part of the conference it's really, I'm really excited about being there and learn from the speakers from big name companies. They share their passion, ideas. You just get to talk to them maybe. I'm just excited about being there actually because I've never been in a conference. Germany doesn't do that. I mean I haven't heard of it, so I'm really glad I'm here and I get to be there.

So this year, what is kind of your measurement what's going to be a success for you?

The things I did this year is what I kinda see happening is interpreneurship, entrepreneurship, silos coming now. So I felt like I needed to bring that innovation component into the conference so my opening keynoter is actually Travis Sheridan who kinda runs Venture Cafe which is a part of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a well-known guy here in St. Louis. And I tapped on his shoulder and I said, "Can I get you to be the opening keynoter "kind of talk about?" because with innovation comes disruption. And that's a good thing, that means we're testing business models, pushing the envelope, or maybe doing things illegally, like Napster or Uber, or something, which is a good thing. That means we're exploring new business models. So I just felt like that was critical to kinda open everybody's mind as they start thinking about kind of a programming throughout the day of the conference. What's interesting, there was an article I just posted on Facebook about last week that they are setting up their own venture capital with JetBlue. And again I think we've kinda seen that in St. Louis as well, right? It's that whole interpreneurship sort of thinking. That's kinda, we're overriding the tone of the conference so I want to make sure everybody is really forward thinking and thinking about what all we have in our hands now and where can we take that. So that's kinda how I threaded it through with the three keynoters. My second keynoter is Jason Snyder, who is a CTO of Momentum Worldwide. And again, he is really a good speaker on the Internet of things. So he's going to talk about how everything is interconnected, all the data we have. And then the final keynoter at the end of the day is Michael Becker. He is the author of Mobile Marketing for Dummies. He's going to talk about how marketers are taking all this inter-connectivity and information and just moving very quickly with respect to new needs of marketing and communications, contact creation which we were talking about earlier, all that sort of stuff. So I kinda thought through this very, very carefully, of what I want the conference to be and for me a success is somebody really coming away with kind of understanding why, how and kind of where we're going throughout the day.

Cool. So what can people expect for the event, professionals, students, and kind of, you know, what's in the pricing, what is not?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean the event's going to be packed. We've got about fifty, I was just told this morning, 54 speakers lined up. We'll start at 8 o'clock in the morning and we'll go until close to 5 o'clock in the afternoon. I'll have seven concurrent sessions running throughout the day. I've got five tracks so I've got the Social Media track, I've got the Digital Strategies track, I've got the Data track. Let's see if I can remember them all. I've got the Tech track, Innovation track, and then I've got the Student Academic track, and then I also have a Career track as well for just those who need some career advice, etc. So again, last year, I didn't give as much time for networking as I would have liked because I was like packing in a lot. This year I decided it was important to have those 25-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon, kinda shut down for a small time. At lunch time again letting everybody to collaborate and talk about the conversations that they're hearing throughout the day which I think is important.

[Voiceover] In the world. Like the ones that are listed up there have the most users and their video--

[Voiceover] So this year AJi is very excited to be a media sponsor for the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference. We're going to bring a podcast out there and record several Connection shows with some of the speakers, attendees, staff and, hopefully, students. We can't wait to see you out there and I hope you enjoyed this first episode of Stories.

But I do want to say I couldn't do without my students.

[Jeff] Absolutely. Yeah, I've got a team of, oh goodness, probably 25-30 students that support a lot of what's going on behind the scenes.