This article was written by BusinessBecause member Michael Hendrix, President of the Marketing Association at Johnson Graduate School of Management - Cornell University.
Can you convince your MBA classmates, faculty, and administration to buy a color changing candle or a men’s shower tool? Can you spend two weeks creating a “sales and marketing plan” that will allow you to generate the greatest profit for your “business?”
There are many ways to learn the fundamental tools and skills to be successful in business, however practical learning has proven to be a top method. Now in its third year, the “Battle of the Brands” Marketing Competition at Johnson at Cornell University has been a tremendous experience where first year MBA students partake in a two week-long competition sponsored by companies such as P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, and American Express.
Students are broken up in teams of five, given one second year student coach, and tasked to market one product to the Johnson community. They develop marketing plans during the first week and execute creative campaigns during the second week that involve digital advertising, posters, viral videos, and more! They get a marketing budget of $250, and develop price points and deals to gain the most revenue and profit.
All of this leads to the final day of the competition where students have two hours to perform and sell as much as possible during the “Johnson Marketplace.” They have sold everything from Puffs toilet paper to Frank’s hot sauce, Snickers Marathon bars, Dove Men’s shower tools, Speed Stick deodorant, and more! The diversity of products has NEVER impeded the learning or fun in the competition.
It’s a great opportunity to take the core concepts learned in Marketing and apply them in the real world. Processes such as STP – Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning – are utilized in every business today. To be able to implement processes such as these truly takes your understanding of marketing to another level. It not only helps in preparation for the recruiting process, but it builds your marketing leadership and expertise.
Even more, the competition typically coincides with another program where over 30 CEOs and CMOs come to campus to coach MBAs at Johnson. During this time period, students present to the executives who judge the competition based on application of core marketing concepts including STP and 4P (Product, Price, Promotion, Placement) analysis, creativity, financials including profitability, and presentation skills. The winner wins the “Battle” and receives $1,000 in American Express gift cards!
For the global MBA and business community, I think it’s phenomenal that corporations are vested in creating marketing leaders in a risk-free environment. The amount of support and resources to help implement a competition such as this leaves me speechless. I also think the “Battle of the Brands” marketing competition helps strengthen marketing expertise, thought leadership, and learning. It’s been three years of growth for participants, who have taken the experience into their internships and full time jobs. I look forward to taking it with me too!
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