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Fall 2005 - Marketing

Destination Purdue > Fall 2005 - Marketing

Team warms up to marketing trade

By Andy Fordice

Since when were agricultural economics classes just about numbers and graphs?

Warner and Hadley

Photo by Andy Fordice

Stacie Warner (left), a junior agricultural sales and marketing major from South Whitley, Ind., and Tanya Hadley, a junior agribusiness management major from Woodburn, Ind., listen during class as they prepare their marketing plan for a piglet warming pad.

They can also be about gaining professional experience as students put their classroom skills to good use at the National Agri-Marketing Association's national competition. Each year the competition gives Purdue Agriculture students the ability to earn class credit by preparing and presenting marketing plants for a new agriculture product. Students also traveled to Phoenix last April where their project competed against projects from students across the United States.

"I am really learning about the different types of marketing and how I can apply that to products," said Tanya Hadley, a junior agribusiness managament major from Woodburn, Ind., and a Purdue NAMA member. Last spring, Hadley and six other students, took courses that allowed them to develop a marketing plan for a piglet warming pad.

The students spend one semester preparing a 20-30 page report describing all aspects of the pad, including its strengths and weaknesses, and information about competitors and potential buyers. Students spent the next semester editing that document down to their fnial five-page marketing plan.

Purdue team wins national event
A team of Purdue University students placed first in the marketing competition during the 2005 National Agri-Markeeting Association's annual conference and trade show in Phoenix.

The seven teammates, all members of Purdue's NAMA chapter, won the honor for their marketing plan for a piglet warming pad. There were 36 teams in the competition.

In addition to the competition, team members attended conferenc sessions where agricultural business leaders covered various issues, including leadership in a changing world and ethics in business.

Find out more:

National Agri-Marketing Association
Purdue Agricultural Economics

"This pad is going to save hog farmers lots of money because it will cut down on energy costs. Plus it's durable and it increases heating efficiency while keeping piglets healthier," said Toby Hollinger, a senior food industry marketing and management major from Richmond, Ind. "This pad is going to change the hog industry, because it will make the farrowing of swine more efficient."

Students may be learning a lot about the product, but according to their advisor, they are learning much more than that. "Students get the ability to work in a team, and they get professional experience with analyzing and researching information, making tough decisions, and with public speaking," said Christine Wilson, Purdue NAMA team advisor and an agricultural economics professor.

"I am really learning a student perspective on marketing, because I am learning skills that will help me in the marketing field for a future career," said Hadely. "I like that I am learning how to quickly think and analyze products."

Because a marketing plan is prepared in such a professional way, "you can't throw it together very quickly. It takes a lot of time," said Stacie Warner, a junior agricultural sales and marketing major from South Whitley, Ind. "It's a great resumé builder and it is helping me establish lots of connections with companies from across the country, because every marketing company knows what NAMA is and what it is all about," said Hollinger.

Even though agriculture students want to win, they are gaining other valuable skills. "I am really learning from my professors and other students what it takes to successfully market a product," said Hadley. "It's great to learn how to put a marketing plan together."

Warner hopes potential employers notice the marketing work she is putting in now. "I want to show them that I have worked with a team and developed a marketing plan."

"Employers will recognize that our involvement in NAMA is very time-consuming and that it forces us to step up a notch in our learning and application methods," said Hadley. "It is not your typical classroom learning with a lecture format. Rather, you are taking what you are learning and applying it while working as a team."

No matter how in-depth the project may be, the students say that's just fine because they are learning about the marketing process. "It's great to put all the pieces of the marketing puzzle together, I really enjoy it and would highly recommend it," said Warner.