Studio 207 wins second annual Troy University IDEA Bank Marketing Competition

The marketing competition invites student-owned businesses to learn more about marketing and compete for an advertising prize bundle.

The marketing competition invites student-owned businesses to learn more about marketing and compete for an advertising prize bundle.

Troy University student business owners received a crash course in marketing during the second IDEA Bank Marketing Competition held from Feb. 19-23.

Different from the IDEA Bank’s usual programs, the marketing competition focuses on established small business owners who need help developing a marketing strategy.

“Most of what we focus on is educational opportunities, networking opportunities, business plan coaching and providing a space for students to work through the development of their ideas,” said IDEA Bank Director Lynne Firmin George. “We wanted to find a way to create an impactful program for the growth of existing student businesses. This was a way we could give those students a chance to refine their marketing and really focus on what it looks like, how they’re being strategic and how all the pieces fit together.”

Contestants set up their displays on Monday and Tuesday, and judges evaluated their tables and gave feedback over Wednesday and Thursday. The contestants were judged on not just the look of their setup, George said, but how it communicates their business purpose, how easy it is for consumers to engage with their business or buy their product and how it all fits together in a strategic way.

In addition to the display, students were asked to submit a one-page page informational document with their business name, mission statement, contact information, website and/or social media, target audience and general marketing strategy, an original business card and a promotional flyer. 

“This blitz, as we’ve been calling it, has been really cool to me because it’s caused a lot of excitement in the students,” said Mauree Alice Porter, IDEA Bank Program Director. “It’s been a great week. We have a lot of great programs that we host throughout the year, but the marketing competition has been one of our most amazing.”

The prize is an advertising bundle worth $2,000 to include: digital advertising on local Pronto Digital Screens; a professional photo shoot of their business/products; a quarter-page ad in the Troy Messenger newspaper; a TROY.Today blog story highlighting their business; a post on Troy University social media and IDEA Bank social media; a feature in IDEA Bank Buzz Newsletter; a feature on the IDEA Bank website for three months; a feature in the TROY Today Magazine; and 10 outdoor yard signs or similar signage.

Grace Wagstaff
Grace Wagstaff spoke about the importance of people in marketing

“We work with them to make sure they have a really powerful advertising package,” George said. “The winner last year needed a website, so we built her a website as part of her package.”

During Friday’s award ceremony and luncheon, two-time TROY graduate, life coach, social media marketing expert and current TROY Title IX Coordinator Grace Wagstaff spoke to the young entrepreneurs about the most important part of marketing: connecting with people.

“At its foundation, marketing is about sharing and empowering other peoples’ stories. As a small business owner, your story is very unique to you, your brand and your business and needs to be shared,” she said. “It’s not about the product or what I’m selling—it’s about the story behind it, how it makes me feel, how other people notice it, how it can impact someone else’s life. It’s never about selling the thing, it’s about the story.”

Wagstaff earned her bachelor’s degree in theatre and dance and her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Over her career, she’s worked in the medical field, as a teacher, as a performer, as a counselor, in store management and DEIB training and advocacy along with implementing successful marketing strategies for a variety of local businesses.

“In my roundabout resume, I’ve had one thing true the whole time: stories matter, and people are behind those stories,” she said. “Know your audience and what they need to know to relate to them. It’s about connecting the story of the product to the story of the person.”

She encouraged the students to be vulnerable, and to never be afraid to fail.

“It sounds so easy. ‘Just be yourself! Be who you are!’ That takes a lot of vulnerability to show up as you, and show up as you creatively,” Wagstaff said. “A lot of times it stops us from doing what we need to do, inside and outside of work. I encourage you to have the audacity to show up. The bold willingness to just show up. I fail all the time, in big and small ways, but the world keeps turning. I’m the only one that remembers my mess ups. Perfection is the really cruel expectation we put on ourselves that other people rarely expect.”

This year’s competition featured five student businesses:

  • The Lash Parlor by Takiyah Flynn
  • KiddieWink Kreations by Fredrica Sanders
  • KjaiArts by Kavarian Outlaw
  • GabbyJ Photography by Gabrielle Jent
  • Studio 207 by Howard Purvee, Jared Hester, Nathan Hobbs, Reanna Thompson and Zack Pappanastos

At the end of the ceremony, Studio 207 was announced as the winner of the 2024 competition. As part of their prize package, they will be awarded an in-depth feature on the TROY.Today blog to be published at a later date.