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Gain Feedback From The Source That Really Counts: Your Students

Posted by admin on 3/10/14 11:00 PM

The following excerpt is from an article written by and published on the Salisbury Post. In the article, they describe a regional soft drink brand that attended a national contest hosted at Wake Forest University where marketing students from a variety of locations developed ideas specifically for the brand. While attending the contest probably isn't possible for most stores, you could easily adapt the idea to your own campus by reaching out to your communications or marketing department and asking if they'd be interested in adding something similar to their curriculum. Read on to learn the details:

For the fifth year, Salisbury-based Cheerwine was a sponsor of a global marketing summit at Wake Forest University’s Center for Retail Innovation in Winston-Salem. The event challenged the top undergraduate business minds in the world to tackle issues facing the soft drink with a cult following as it develops fans outside the South.

While Cheerwine’s association with Wake Forest University is a powerful asset, sponsoring the Marketing Summit was part of a larger strategy, said Tom Barbitta, Cheerwine’s senior vice president for sales and marketing.

Barbitta has been charged with expanding Cheerwine’s footprint outside the South. He’s solicited opinions from colleagues and experts, convinced family-owned bottling companies in the Pacific Northwest to make and bottle the soft drink and used social media to encourage devoted southern fans to send “Cheer Packages” to friends living far away.

Last weekend, he tapped into another source.

“This was about soliciting ideas from college students — our core demographic,” Barbitta said. “We believe companies are missing an opportunity if they don’t invite their fans and potential customers to co-create their marketing story.”

Students worked for 36 hours to develop a presentation for Cheerwine leaders and BooneOakley, Cheerwine’s new advertising agency.

Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business of Boston captured first place and bragging rights. They placed above teams from Universidad Panamerica, University of California Berkeley, University of Maryland, College Park, Wake Forest University and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Every team took a different approach and exceeded expectations,” Barbitta said. “Each presentation was rich.

“Northeastern won because of their passion. They had real commitment to what they were saying, and they believed in the idea’s ability to succeed.”

Soon, Barbitta and his team will revisit the strategies and tactics presented by all the teams and consider implementing some.

“Many of the concepts were affirming to us,” he said. “We’re doing the right things to speak to this market. Some ideas challenged us, and we’ll think about including those in the future.”

Cheerwine became involved in the event five years ago because the brand considers Wake Forest University a part of the community. The company wanted to be a good neighbor and recognized the benefits of the university’s talent pool, Barbitta said.

Today, Cheerwine stays involved for strategic reasons as well.

The company is tapping its core demographic to mine those marketing nuggets that only come from going to the source — the customer.


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