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The Other “Extra Credit”

Posted by on Thursday, November 20, 2014 in Academics, General Information, Student Life.

As the marketing and advertising enthusiast that I am, I love an opportunity to think about connecting brands to people. (Kudos to my Creative Advertising professor from last fall, who opened my eyes to the world of advertising and strategic planning. Thanks Dr. Bob!) A cool opportunity materialized for me this semester, allowing me to work on developing targeted campaigns in a team setting right on campus!

In the last few months, I’ve had the honor of working with a group of four other Advanced Marketing students and my Marketing professor on a national marketing case competition through EdVenture Partners. Twenty universities nationwide participate in this “campus challenge” each year, and the type of marketing project depends on which organization or client we are tasked with helping. Professor Johnsen sent around a sign-up sheet on one of our first days of class, and he randomly selected five of us to be on the team. I was so lucky to be chosen!

This year, our objective was to increase awareness of and sign-ups for a Credit Score/Report website called Credit Karma among Vanderbilt students and young adults in the Nashville community. We will be measured based on a 30-slide PPT we created, detailing our integrated marketing plan, along with numbers of page views and sign-ups we obtained through our school-specific link: You can imagine the challenge presented in making college students care about financial tools and show interest in knowing a credit score that they won’t use for a few years. Only 15% of students nationwide know their credit scores, and 65% of 18 to 29 year-olds don’t have a credit card, so a major barrier for Credit Karma is a lack of education about the importance of building strong credit early among millennials. We were out to fix that.

An example of one of our creative ads.

Over a period of 6 weeks from early October to mid-November, we implemented a marketing campaign called “Credit Makes the Difference.” After preliminary online survey results came back confirming that students don’t know why credit is relevant to them, we got to work developing ads to combat that idea. We put up posters around campus and tabled around lunch time at “The Wall” with giveaways of macarons, candy, and Jake’s Bakes cookies. Good credit is “sweet!” Weekly give-aways of gift cards to Chipotle, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines kept students engaged on our social media pages.

Tabling at The Wall on a lovely fall day.

While we as Vanderbilt students can be so diligent and careful about preparing for our futures academically and socially, most of us have no sort of financial plan for the future. Sure, many of us receive financial aid and aim to land high-paying jobs after graduation, but most of our focus is placed on academics, extracurriculars, accumulating skills that will help us in the “real world.” Having a solid credit score, or at least just knowing what your credit score is, will be crucial to future success as well. I hope at least one or two Commodores walked away with this mindset after interacting with our campaign.

If our marketing plan is deemed to be the best by the judges, our team will have the opportunity to fly out to San Fransisco in December to present to executives at Credit Karma’s headquarters. We can taste the fresh seafood already. Wish us luck!

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