The Challenge: Hands-On Learning

Now in its 34th year, the Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge gives students the special opportunity to turn theory into practice. It provides hands-on learning and real-world experience. Students are challenged to combine their knowledge, research, and creativity as they work in teams on a marketing assignment from a corporate sponsor, their client.

Faculty advisors may use the Challenge as a teaching tool for part or all of the semester. The Challenge is often used as

  • a mandatory or optional class assignment,
  • a marketing or advertising club activity, or
  • an independent study or capstone project.

The Rewards of the Challenge

All marketing is interactive, data-driven, direct, and accountable. Working on a real-world challenge in a team situation, as marketing executives do, provides an excellent foundation for any career in marketing. Typically a Challenge asks students to develop a marketing plan that, when implemented, will:

  • generate or improve orders;
  • acquire and retain customers, subscribers or donors;
  • develop customer relationships;
  • build brands;
  • build store, event or web traffic;
  • increase inquiries to get leads for sales or dealer organizations; OR
  • build support for causes.

The response is measurable, return on investment (ROI) is predictable, and communication and transaction activity are data-driven. In simple terms, the media used (social, mobile, search engine marketing, mail, print, telephone, broadcast, etc.), singly or integrated, will target an offer to specific consumers or businesses identified as those most likely to respond and provides them the opportunity, one-on-one, to take advantage of that offer.

Data & Marketing Association (a division of the ANA) research clearly shows that in the areas of advertising spending, revenue, and employment, data-driven marketing growth outpaces total U.S. economic growth, with approximately half of all advertising dollars spent on data-driven marketing.

Hands-on experience in this area will give students a competitive edge. The Challenge helps to provide that experience with an actual client. And, participation in the Challenge is a differentiator that looks great on a résumé.