Targeting Your Market
Ten of Washington College’s motivated marketing minors received honorable mention after proposing an original strategic marketing campaign for the Wall Street Journal.
At first, it seemed rather simple—create a marketing plan for an established brand. Nevertheless, when 10 marketing students enrolled in this four-credit practicum, they were in for a truly daunting, one-of-a-kind, experiential learning opportunity. Every year, the American Marketing Association (AMA) chooses a different brand or company as a client—this year it was the Wall Street Journal—and asks teams of college students to address specific challenges and unmet client needs, as they build their own original marketing campaigns.
Last year, after realizing that other colleges were offering the AMA’s collegiate case competition as a course, Ryan Eanes, assistant professor of business management, pitched the idea to his department and the course was set to launch in the fall of 2018. Eanes began promoting the case competition among his students, looking for future marketing professionals eager to participate.
From the very start, this was not your average marketing class. Supervised by Eanes and career coach Georgina Bliss—both AMA chapter advisors at WC—the class focused specifically on developing a marketing campaign for the Wall Street Journal and submitting it to the AMA. Team members included Lizzie Bienert ’19, Conner Cotting ’19, Ashley Davis ’20, Mark Diese ’18, Alex Kincaid ’19, Brennan Martz ’19, Geoffrey Sloan ’20, Brett Van Hoven ’19, Naihui Wang ’19, and Bailey Willems ’19.
“It was definitely a ‘learn as you go’ type of situation, since none of us had ever done something like this before,” Davis said. “The case competition gave us real-world experience into what creating a marketing campaign is truly like.”
The best, brightest, and biggest institutions across the country—including University of Pennsylvania, University of Georgia, and University of Arizona—compete in the Collegiate Case Competition each year and, for the first time, Washington College was competing right alongside them.
The process began with a research phase as students surveyed American consumers, researched existing literature and data, and facilitated digital and in-person focus groups. The group met weekly in a classroom setting, while working long hours outside of the classroom—setting their own deadlines to stay on target.
“Our research was stylistically similar to what would actually occur at a marketing agency,” noted Van Hoven. “We were definitely able to gain applicable skills for our future careers.”
Davis recalled: “I think we can all agree, if we had to do it over again, we would budget our time differently.”
Despite last-minute scrambles to meet submission deadlines, the group developed an impressive proposal to expand the client’s college student subscriptions by leveraging a partnership between the Wall Street Journal and Chegg, a textbook rental service, and then adding elements of fun. The textbooks would include information about student subscriptions inside the packaging. A tour bus would bring live entertainment, giveaways, and contests to college campuses, while encouraging students to sign up for the Wall Street Journal. Finally, the team suggested that new student subscribers be entered into a drawing to win a grand prize: a dining hall takeover with a celebrity chef, plus the chance to win $50,000 for their school.
In December, the tireless hours of writing and researching came to an end as they submitted their campaign for judging. When the new year hit, the results arrived. Washington College placed in the Honorable Mention category, beating out hundreds of other institutions
“This is an incredible accomplishment that elevates WC students above institutions that are exponentially larger,” Eanes says. “Washington College was the smallest college in terms of total enrollment that placed in any of the categories.”
All of the top 10 finalists are invited to pitch their proposals at the AMA Collegiate Conference in New Orleans in mid-April. Washington College plans to send eight marketing students to the conference—a wonderful opportunity for professional development and networking.
—Meredith Kenton ’19