UNI AMA team takes first place in regional Marketing Strategy competition
The two weeks before Oct. 4 were a sprint for the UNIBusiness American Marketing Association (AMA) Marketing Strategy team. At least, that’s how Jacob Smith (Marketing ’20, Urbandale, Iowa) described it.
In those two weeks, the four members were preparing for the annual Marketing Strategy competition at the AMA Regional Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Their task was to create a comprehensive marketing plan for Montgomery Ward, a 140-year catalog company. The goal was to target Generation X.
But all of that hard work paid off in the end. The team, made up of Smith, Adrian Velasco, Andrew Jeffrey and Hannah Hoth, finished first place, winning the $800 prize.
“This was really, really similar to what you’re going to be doing at any agency,” Smith said. “So from an agency perspective, it was another piece of experience I can add to my portfolio. I can talk about this and reference this in any job interview.”
There were multiple parts to the project. First, after the guidelines were released two weeks before the event, the team researched and wrote up a report to send to the deciding committee. Being selected as a finalist, the team traveled to the conference with a handful of other schools to give a 10-minute presentation of their recommended solution.
To tackle the challenge, the team dived into understanding Generation X and its habits. The members then analyzed Montgomery Ward’s competitors and completed a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. After the initial research, the group focused its efforts around Midwest budget shoppers.
The next step was developing a plan for delivering the message. The members backed up their suggestions with research. Thanks to a Cedar Valley research and product development company, Discida, the group used eye-tracking technology to inform a complete redesign of the catalog front pages.
“There are companies around the US that have this sort of technology,” Smith said. “And we got to use this and grab a few participants. That was kind of the final part of the two-week sprint. We were putting together messaging, doing design work, conducting research all at the same time. It was a short amount of time. We put in the work for the competition.”
The competition was valuable to the students in a number of ways, but perhaps the most important takeaway was the experience. Team members immersed themselves in a real-world scenario — not unlike what they’d face in a professional setting.
“My main message is research, research, research,” said Kathleen Porter, who works in the Professional Readiness Program and advised the team. “Understanding the importance of organization and planning while also doing market research was an important takeaway. They learned a lot because they hadn’t done some of those things. It helps them learn the marketing discipline on a deeper level.”
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