The art of Marketing

Melissa Black, AMA President; Walter Murray, AMA vice president; Karen H. Smith, Ph.D., faculty advisor for the Texas State AMA

The art of Marketing

by Catherine Duncan

Business students in Marketing, Advertising programs learn valuable workforce skills 

For students in the McCoy College of Business Administration, innovative programs are enhancing classroom learning and providing invaluable professional and personal skills.

An active Texas State chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and a national competition hosted by the American Advertising Federation offer students many opportunities to enhance their communication and leadership skills, network with professionals and fellow students, develop marketing and advertising campaigns, and learn about their chosen career fields. 

Dr. Karen H. Smith, faculty advisor for the Texas State AMA, says the student chapter is led by 15 officers who oversee meetings featuring marketing professionals, workshops for skills building, etiquette dinners, and casual socials to meet other students. “Student leaders gain a great level of self-confidence and learn how to manage their time between the organization, classwork, and jobs,” says Smith, professor of marketing. 

The Texas State AMA hosts an annual regional conference and invites students from other universities to benefit from speakers, a career fair, and competitions, such as elevator pitches and marketing strategies. Members of Texas State’s AMA also participate in the AMA Collegiate Case Competition in which teams develop a marketing strategy for a real company with a marketing challenge. Texas State’s team is coached by Dr. Gail Zank, professor of marketing. The top eight will compete at the international level by making a presentation to company representatives at the International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Texas State’s teams have ranked among the top eight plans for 11 of the 13 years they have been competing and earned first place in 2013-14 and in 2016-2017.

The student chapters also compete for  honors at the annual conference. “Our students have done well in the competition over the years. Out of 340 collegiate chapters in the U.S., we were in the top 20 the last nine years. Texas State won international chapter in 2013-2014,” Smith adds.

Melissa Black, Texas State AMA president and a business marketing senior, has been involved since her freshman year. “I really wanted to get involved in a business organization because I want to work in corporate law. I went to the first meeting with my resident assistant. I didn’t understand all they were talking about, but I knew I wanted to learn,” she says. 

Black said she recognized that participation in the AMA chapter would advance her business skills. The chapter has its own marketing consulting business that local businesses hire to create marketing campaigns, especially ones directed to fellow students. “We create a marketing campaign at a low cost. It is great experience for students,” she says. 

One benefit from the biweekly workshops was the hands-on learning. “We had a LinkedIn workshop where students walked in with little knowledge, and they walked out with a completed LinkedIn profile.”

Biweekly speakers, socials featuring local professionals, and networking with AMA chapters from other universities were all highlights for Black. “Personally, I learned very valuable skills for the workplace. I’m now a certified digital marketer, and I wouldn’t have done this without the experience and confidence gained from the AMA.

“I think the AMA helps students come out of their shells and really figure out who they are as individuals and as professionals. I think we at Texas State excel at that.”

Walter Murray, AMA vice president and an accounting junior, believes he has benefited greatly from networking with professionals and students from other universities. “This has been a perfect way to work on my soft skills. As an accounting major and more of an introvert, this experience makes me talk to people who I wouldn’t have otherwise. As an officer, I know I need to show up at every event ready to make students feel welcome. 

“I also have been getting more comfortable with public speaking. I think this will help me when interviewing for a job,” Murray says.

Dr. Rick T. Wilson, associate professor of marketing, serves as the co-faculty advisor for the National Student Advertising Competition by the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Each year, a team from Texas State develops a professional-quality advertising campaign for a company and then competes against teams from across the country. It is jointly taught by faculty from mass communication and the business school. 

In the fall, Wilson teaches a case competition course with 10 students who are responsible for gathering research on the clients’ product, the marketing challenge, and the targeted consumer group. In the spring, students take
the research and turn it into a formal campaign with all the creative materials, media budget, and promotional calendar.

“The company for this year’s competition is Wienerschnitzel. The selected company usually wants to target a younger demographic,” he says. “Our students will submit their advertising campaign in March. In April, they pitch their idea to industry judges in the district competition. If we win district, then we go to the virtual competition against the top 20 teams in the country. The top eight teams go on to the national competition at the AAF professional conference.”

Wilson says since 1990, Texas State students have placed first in the district competition 10 times and first in the national competition twice. “I think the competition is a great confidence builder for the students. At first, they are unsure about the entire process. They learn to understand the challenge and the work involved. Some really find their passion while working on this project. That is very exciting to see,” he says. 

The yearlong project, Wilson says, truly puts Texas State students ahead of others. “They end up with an impressive skill set. They really get to apply what they have learned in class.”

Chelsea Rosine, a 2017 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an international business minor, says the entire experience was very hands on, and students saw all the work involved in creating an advertising campaign. “You had to make sure every part of the campaign made sense, and it all worked together. It was fun because you had to put all the parts together: idea generation, market research, product positioning, and media planning and buying,” says Rosine, who served as the team’s media planner.

She is now working as a digital marketing specialist at WebCE. “I was able to walk into my job interview with a hard copy of the marketing campaign and discuss it thoroughly. They were impressed by my knowledge and experience.
They later told me the campaign was one of the reasons I was hired.”

Tyler Price, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2016, was in the fall class that was responsible for conducting the research necessary to understand the product and determine how to market to a younger audience. “We surveyed students to learn how to market to college-age students. Then we packaged what we learned and gave it to the spring class who did the creative part of the campaign,” he says. 

Price says he learned “it is good to be thrown into a mix of people and learn how to work well with others. You have to learn how to communicate with different types of personalities and work toward a common goal.”

Today he works as a social media analyst for Just Media in Austin. “What we did in that class for the competition was really relevant to the career path I wanted to take after graduation,” Price says. “I had a great experience at Texas State in general. My professors were really dedicated to the students. Their dedication helps us be hired over other job candidates and to be prepared to succeed in our careers.”