University of Southern California

Marshall Seniors Tops in Sales and Marketing Contest
Undergraduates Drive for First-Place Finishes in State Farm Competition
December 7, 2011 • by News at Marshall

Against competitors who spanned the United States, two USC Marshall seniors placed first as a team at the 2011 State Farm Sales and Marketing Competition held Nov. 11 at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo.

Kyle Manis came in first for the Integrated Marketing Plan competition and second in the Sales Role Play competition, earning him a second place slot for his overall combined scores. Ariyana Smith came in third place for her combined scores in the Integrated Marketing Communications Plan and the Sales Role Play competitions.

Marshall was the overall first place team 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 U.S. Manis took home $5,600 in prize money and Smith earned $3,000 at the competition.

In its second year, the competition required students to develop a marketing plan targeting families with young adult drivers aged 18-26. The students also competed in two separate 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 a mock State Farm agent.

"I could not have been prouder of these students," said their 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 Marshall "provided a great foundation for the competition because we had already done very similar exercises."

"The competition afforded me the opportunity to put to practical use many of the things I have learned throughout my undergraduate career," said Smith, whose studies are focused on Strategic Management. "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 results to learn more about how to market its insurance and services to about 11 million households with young adults. Competition organizers selected the young adult market as a target because of the large number of individuals in this group who are entering adulthood.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.