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University version of “The Apprentice” is a winner

They did not have to face Donald Trump in the boardroom, but UTC Marketing 313 students were challenged by Kristy McManus in the classroom for the UTC version of “The Apprentice.” McManus, Director, Graduate Programs for the College of Business, asked student groups to come up with their best marketing plan to promote La Altena Mexican restaurant.

Their first task was to create a mission statement for the business, and team Marketing Muchachos’ version was selected the winner by La Altena’s owner. The mission statement read: "Our mission is to be the best Mexican restaurant in Chattanooga that introduces American people to Mexican culture by providing and serving home cooked, native Mexican food that exceeds any expectations.”

Students then analyzed and chose viable target markets for the restaurant, according to McManus.

“I chose ‘Holy Guacamole!’ as the team that I felt had most carefully analyzed the market,” McManus said. “They had chosen to target the Pilgrim's Pride Poultry Plant across the street from the restaurant. I felt this was definitely the most well-defined and creative target market plan.”

The real fun began when students designed promotional materials and distributed them to their chosen target markets. Each team had 10 days to bring in as many customers and as much revenue as they could using their promotions.

When the promotion period was over and the dollars were tallied, The Trumps team prevailed as the winners.

“Their coupon was designed in such a way that the customer could use the coupon on the front and then fill out the back portion with their name and address information to be entered into a drawing to win a $20 gift certificate to the restaurant. The Trumps felt like their unique coupon design gave them an advantage in the competition. Not only did the coupon encourage redemption, but it also allows La Altena to create a database for future promotions,” McManus said.

The end result: for the duration of the project, student marketing efforts paid off with increased sales for La Altena; the College of Business received media attention, as WRCB Eyewitness News covered the students’ progress while also promoting the NBC show that provided inspiration for the class; and students learned a lot.

“All of the students had excellent ideas and each team got to experience a bit of real-life marketing,” McManus said. “They also learned to better understand the importance of each decision as though they were a business owner. I believe that the competition helped to make the project more fun and interesting."

May 11, 2006

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