Friday, September 20, 2013

Marketing professor mentors two of top three teams in case competition

The teams from assistant professor Jessica Li’s integrated marketing communications class waited nervously for the Target representatives to tell them the results of the case competition. Weeks of hard work led to this moment.

The case study, made possible by marketing and strategic management lecturer Joyce Claterbos, was titled, “The War for Guests.” It involved developing a marketing strategy to help Target attract more customers. Li mentored two of the teams, whose presentations were also part of the final project for her class.

“For the final project, I let them choose between several options including participating in the Target competition,” Li said. “I hoped that by doing the case competition they would use some concepts and principles we learned in class.”

Zach Watchous, a member of one of the teams Li mentored, explained one of their ideas, a groceries-to-go service. Using a smartphone, a customer would input a grocery list and the Target employees would have the items waiting curbside when the customer drove up.
Credit: SXC

“You do this maybe 30 minutes before you leave work,” Watchous said. “Someone who doesn’t want to go to the store has their groceries that much faster and pretty much effortlessly.”

Jayant Narula said his group focused on three points. The first was a marketing campaign that focused on Target’s superior customer service. The second, a technological enhancement of sales strategies and devices, is meant to ensure everyone who walks in the store buys something. Marketing communication was the third point, and Narula said his team used the teachings from Li’s class more on this point than any other.

“It was about conveying all of our strategies and positioning effectively and efficiently so the customer knows our policies and why we’re above and beyond the competition,” he said.

Both students agree that the experience of the competition will benefit them in the future.

“It’s one thing to present to your class,” said Narula. “It’s another thing to compete with others while Target employees, people who are actually in the industry, judge you.”

Li believes these kinds of experiences are crucial to a good business education.

“I think it’s important for students to get as much real world experience as possible in their class,” she said. “Using opportunities that are out there to get the students more exposure to actual companies and experiences that can help them in their careers later on is definitely something I’m going to build into my future classes.”

by Dan Dutcher