Marketing students create ads for local businesses

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: KATE OTTERBEIN
Students in Fanshawe’s marketing program came out on top, exercising the skills they learned at Fanshawe.

Fanshawe’s marketing program held a competition among students that created social media ads for local businesses. Students were divided into small groups, where they were then responsible for creating Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Google, and TikTok ads. The competition was completely funded by Northern Commerce, with each team receiving $2,000 for their advertisements. TikTok added a more complex component to the competition, according to Fanshawe’s marketing professor, Liz Gray.

“TikTok’s advertising is brand new and still in its infancy,” Gray said. “The students were challenged with creating targeted campaigns when the audiences of our clients may not even use TikTok. So we needed to determine how our advertising could influence decision makers and what would drive conversation.”

The group that won first place was Katy Trimble, Chris Bluhm, Andrea Gonzalez, and Caitlin Harasym. They were assigned two different companies to work with, one of which was Serendipity Home Decor & More.

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“We had to run digital campaigns to increase awareness of the brand,” Gonzalez said. “We had a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that we aimed to hit throughout the process and sales would have been a bonus. But awareness was our main goal.”

Some of the KPIs were time customers spent on the website, how many pages they browsed through, and more. Their main goal of awareness for the company made their pitch a little bit different compared to the other teams.

“When we actually went through and did our pitch to the judges, we were technically the only team to have a negative return on investment (ROI),” Bluhm said. “That was one of our bigger KPIs, just an actual return on investment. But that’s what helped make us different because we didn’t have any physical sales that a lot of the other teams did so we had to go about it differently.”

The strategy they used was attaching a dollar value to how long people were spending on the site and determine the likelihood that they would make a purchase, either in that moment or in the future. They also analyzed the newsletter sign-ups. Despite having some struggles, like being the only team with a negative ROI, they felt that the marketing program really set them up for this challenge.

“I didn’t know how to actually create a TikTok ad off of the business manager site,” Harasym said. “Obviously you learn as you go through, so there was a lot of trial and error.”

“There’s a few courses that we had taken that all kind of provided the knowledge that we used going into this competition, especially when it came to content creation, scheduling the ads, managing the budget to use a little bit of each program, and really helped in the end result,” Trimble said. “Everybody’s got their own strength in something. When you have to do a hands-on competition like this, you’re forced to use those skills that you’re not strong in and sometimes you discover you’re good at doing this other skill. It really helps for students to say, I thought I wanted to follow this path, but I’m really liking this other one.”

Overall, the group agreed that it was a great experience and this program has set them up for success moving forward with their careers. Harasym said the program was beneficial to build off of her first program she took at Fanshawe.