For marketing professor Lisa Symons, the selection of participants begins quite early in the school year with a search for third-year marketing students who would be a great fit for the challenge. This year, the team was selected by the third week of September, and the team met weekly for practice.
“It’s open to all marketing students. Typically this event is for third-year students and there is another event called the Quiz Bowl better suited for second-year students,” Symons said, adding that sometimes second-year students do participate in both, but they haven’t taken all of the courses that would prepare them.
The competition includes ten different events ranging from market research, retail, sales account management and direct marketing, to entrepreneurship, sales presentations, job interviews and international marketing communications. Among the highlights are the case competitions, where two students are given 30 minutes to analyze a case and provide a marketable solution to a panel of industry leaders acting as judges. The resolution is then presented in less than 15 minutes.
“A marketing case could be almost anything.” Symons explained. “It could be a coffee company that isn’t doing well, for example, and wants to reinvigorate (the brand). The students would come up with a plan for the coffee company to get it back in the times, and get people thinking about it.
Each pair of students presents their solution to the same case. According to Symons, “It’s amazing how different their solutions are.”
For third-year marketing student Anthony Bailey, this is his second year in the competition. “I did cases both times,” Bailey said, “but it was a little bit easier the second time because it’s shocking almost, doing it the first time - you’re not expecting it to be exactly how it is. You only have 30 minutes to prepare something. Then you go and present to people you’ve never met before.”
“I would recommend participating whenever you can,” Bailey continued. “I did it twice because I liked it - I loved it.”
Aside from quick thinking and excellent solutions, students must be able to present their product or service solution with confidence and poise. Symons explained the event is quite intense, and partners are formed to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses to ensure success.
Each year, 15 Ontario colleges participate in the event, including Sheridan, Centennial, Mohawk, St. Clair, Fanshawe, George Brown, St. Lawrence and Algonquin. The 2013 event attracted almost 250 participants.
Conestoga is scheduled to host the Ontario Colleges Marketing Competition in 2017.
Story by Laurie Snell, second-year student in Conestoga’s Print Journalism program.