David Pierce brings latest trends, opportunities to IUPUI sport marketing students

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David Pierce, second from left, stands with students next to the race car on which sponsorship logos were placed for the 2016 Sport Marketing Association conference in Indianapolis.

David Pierce knows a thing or two about sales in the $498 billion sport industry.

A faculty member in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who researches sport sales and sport management education, Pierce was elected last month as a member-at-large to the executive board of the national Sport Marketing Association.

The association was founded in 2002 to meet the need for an academic organization focused exclusively on sport marketing, the engine that drives sport business.

It has over 350 active members, the majority of whom are university professors of sport marketing and management who conduct leading-edge research as well as educate and advise hundreds of students who enter the sport industry each year.

The association's annual conference attracts undergraduate and graduate students seeking to network with industry professionals through an annual career fair, as well as industry leaders who attend to share their experiences and provide insights that its membership can take back to their classrooms.

Pierce is also the author of "Selling in the Sport Industry," the first textbook that supports teaching the sport sales process and educates students for sales careers in the sport industry. It was published in January.

Sales is the No. 1 area in which there are jobs in the sport industry, especially entry-level jobs, Pierce said.

"But for as long as I've been teaching sales, there has not been an academic textbook to teach faculty how to teach students how to sell," he said. "I finally I got tired of there not being a book, so I took it on, and now there is one book people can use."

Programs at six university campuses, including IU Bloomington and Ball State University as well as IUPUI, began using the textbook this year.

With the association's close ties to the sport industry, Pierce's active participation in the group benefits students seeking a foothold in that field.

"It is a very industry-facing organization that blends theory and practice," Pierce said. "A lot of industry professionals come to the organization's conference to speak, so it's not the typical academic conference that just has professors talking to themselves. That's why I like it and why I've been involved.

"I am able to keep up to speed on current trends and bring that back to the classroom," Pierce said.

The revenue-generating side of the business -- ticket sales, sponsorship sales, college athletic donations and fundraising -- is where the job opportunities are, Pierce said, adding that the organization's conference brings all of these revenue functions under its umbrella. 

Last year, sport marketing students at IUPUI had the opportunity to participate in the association's annual conference because it was held in Indianapolis. Pierce led the local conference organizing efforts, which included selling sponsorships to companies and organizations whose logos were then placed on an Indy-style race car that was parked outside of the hotel where the conference took place. He also worked with a group of IUPUI students in a marketing competition the association held for college students.

"They find an industry partner that has a marketing problem and give that problem to the students to solve," Pierce said. "The IUPUI students got really good experience presenting in front of industry professionals."