Poole College marketing students Sofia Abdo, Parker Lee and Kaley Moffitt each participated in a four-day American Marketing Association student competition hosted recently by Utah Valley University, but they did not have to worry about travel, accommodations or missing any classes. That’s because this was the inaugural #iAMAdigitalmarketer UVUAMA Virtual Regional Digital Conference Competition, which took place from January 31 to February 3, 2018
The virtual event was created to enable American Marketing Association chapters around the nation to meet and compete easily and conveniently from their campus residences – in their pajamas, if they preferred. That was a plus for at least one of the Poole College competitors.
The competitions, however, were rigorous, and Poole College participants were up for the challenge. They wrapped up the competition with one first place and two second place awards.
Lee received first place for the LinkedIn Profile Competition. Moffitt and Abdo placed second with their digital marketing entry: a cycle touring company that they created called Trail Treks and based in Yellowstone National Park. Moffitt also competed in the LinkedIn Profile Competition, earning second place. Cash prizes were $200 for first place; $100 for second place; and $50 for third.
The three students are actively involved in the NC State AMA chapter, and said they owe their successes in the competition to the knowledge they have gained through AMA meetings and their academic coursework. They especially credit three of their professors – Tom Byrnes, Patrice Nealon, and Paul Mulvey.
“I can confidently say that I used concepts from every marketing course – especially digital – taken here at NC State to help me create the finished product,” Moffitt said, noting that Professor Nealon is teaching two digital marketing classes this semester.
The students also credit annual LinkedIn workshops hosted by the AMA chapter for their success in that competition. During the workshops, Rob Humphrey, a senior account executive at LinkedIn, teaches participants tips for preparing effective LinkedIn profiles that enable the students to differentiate themselves.
The students noted that the virtual competition – while allowing them to participate from the comfort of their homes – still required hard work and time management skills to complete all the tasks on time.
“Even though this was a completely hypothetical situation, we treated the competition as though we were working on a real-life marketing project,” Abdo said. “This dealt with more than just a digital marketing campaign; we were essentially launching a new business, defining areas of focus within a real target market, and developing strategies to creatively position our business in relation to the competition. I didn’t realize how much I would learn about what goes into this process but I left with an awareness that will allow me to take a more holistic approach to similar endeavors in the future.”
Abdo also said that participating in the competition was very different from what what she expected initially. Being virtual, she said, “almost took the competitive feeling out of it, since we didn’t know who – nor how many other people – we were up against.
“I think this allowed me to be more creative when coming up with ideas for the marketing plan since I couldn’t compare our work to anyone else. In the process, I learned the extent of what goes into a digital marketing business plan. It also made me realize that having a strong, diverse team with different perspective and areas of expertise is crucial to developing a well-rounded and comprehensive strategy,” she said.
Abdo said was able to draw ideas from a project she was working on in her market research course and one from a prior semester, in her brand promotions course. “These projects have given me essential skills needed to analyze a target market, identify customer needs within a particular segment, use creative to appeal to that segment, allocate budgeting via multiple avenues, and ultimately outline the crucial elements necessary to a successful marketing campaign,” she said.
The team members also said that networking and LinkedIn – important for anyone’s career plans – was also a value point from the UVA competition and a benefit of their membership in the American Marketing Association at NC State.
NC State students interested in getting LinkedIn tips are welcome to connect with Lee and Moffitt. Those curious about the NC State AMA chapter are welcome to stop by at their biweekly Tuesday evening meetings. Contact the student organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details are on the chapter’s website, which also has a video from the conference.