Faculty Profile: Tom Betts

Professor Tom Betts

By Allison Graff

MAKING IDEAS FLY

Professor Tom Betts uses a funny YouTube video called “Advertiser vs. Consumer” to kick off his “Intro to Marketing” class. It gets students thinking about the ethics behind marketing and advertising. Is advertising always self-serving and manipulative? Is it innately bad or evil because it involves trying to sell people something? 

Take a marketing class taught by Professor Betts and you’ll learn that trying to sell something is about the approach you take, about using what he calls the “art and science of marketing” to connect the right people with the right products or causes. 

“As Christians, we have to take marketing further because we have a deeper call—we have redeeming work to do,” he said.

Professor Betts has spent more than 25 years exploring the best ways to connect people and products—from banking systems to magazines and, most recently, books at Grand Rapids-based publishing house, Zondervan. 

Instead of simply lecturing about marketing plans, Professor Betts connects his students to local businesses where they actually create real marketing plans. 

“I enjoy teaching, but I enjoy mentoring and advising more. I love seeing students become the best they can be—I get energy out of seeing that happen.”

Professor Betts worked closely with recent graduate Kelly LeCoy as she developed her award-winning business plan. He asked her a lot of tough questions in the process.

“In the real business world, you have to have a good plan for the idea to fly.” 

With all of his time spent in the business world, Professor Betts knows well what it takes to make an idea work. Now he’s all about helping students put wings on their ideas.