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USC Marshall seniors top sales and marketing contest

Two USC Marshall School of Business seniors placed first as a team at the 2011 State Farm Sales and Marketing Competition held on Nov. 11 at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo.

Kyle Manis came in first for the integrated marketing plan contest and second in sales role play, earning a second-place slot for his overall combined scores. Ariyana Smith came in third place for her combined scores in the same events.

USC Marshall was the overall first-place winner based on the combined scores of Manis and Smith, who also competed as individuals against 14 opponents from seven other universities representing State Farm regions across the United States.

Manis took home $5,600 in prize money. Smith earned $3,000.

In its second year, the competition required students to develop a marketing plan targeting families with young adult drivers from the ages of 18 to 26. The students also competed in two videotaped presentations, one in which they attempted to sell a mock auto insurance policy to a young adult driver and another where they presented their ideas about leveraging the current State Farm marketing campaign as mock State Farm agents.

“I could not have been prouder of these students,” said faculty coach Jerry Giaquinta, assistant professor of clinical management communication, who began preparing for the competition in July. “It was a very real-world simulation. For those who advanced to round two, it was really on the fly. They didn’t know what people were going to say so they had to be quick on their feet.”

Manis noted that several courses he and Smith completed at USC “provided a great foundation for the competition because we had already done similar exercises.”

Smith, whose studies focus on strategic management, added: “The competition afforded me the opportunity to put to practical use many of the things I have learned throughout my undergraduate career. Being able to present my integrated marketing plan to State Farm executives and have it shape their strategies moving forward was an honor.”

State Farm will use the competition’s results to learn more about how to market its insurance and services to about 11 million households with young adults. Organizers are targeting that marketing niche because of the large number of individuals in the group who are approaching adulthood.

USC Marshall seniors top sales and marketing contest

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