By Safia Hashi

Mathieu Denis, Casandra Lafontaine, and Christopher Garlough assigned to Urban Element.

What was once a final project at the end of the semester has become now become a high stakes competition.

Graduate-level business marketing students made the transition from managing virtual clients to pitching a full marketing program to four Ottawa-based organizations. This year, one marketing plan for each organization will be selected. Thus, the teams are competing for the top spot at the end of the term in April.

An annual tradition dating back to 2005, the program seeks businesses with a product sold to customers looking for a full marketing plan to help with advertising, product ideas, and creativity. Students are challenged with utilizing elements of marketing to work as an on-campus consulting team.

Buckwheat Pillow, The Urban Element, Royal Canadian Legion, and The Ottawa Fury soccer team signed on for this year.

In level three, the students were molded with coaching skills to interact with clients virtually; they learned the basics of meeting agendas and organizing their ideas into a structured plan.

Monday morning in the ACE building, the four teams of five met with their assigned organizations to present in an industry style manner for the first time and they were being judged. Valerie Hill and Jill Baker facilitated the project for the graduate-level students.

“We are looking for students to come prepared and sell their market opportunity,” said Hill, a professor in both the two-year and three-year marketing programs.

The companies hearing the pitch also helped with grading.

Casandra Lafontaine, 21; Mathieu Denis, 22; and Christopher Garlough, 25; made up one of the teams assigned to Urban Element. They filed into a room with their teachers and a business representative to pitch their research proposal.

Lafontaine and Denis won the Ontario College Marketing Competition for two years. Garlough also has experience as a salesman. They have been paired together since last semester and understand their group dynamic, but there are other challenges.

“We’re confident but nervous,” said Lafontaine. “We believe our industry experience sets us apart. The biggest challenge would be getting our analytics in line to properly reaffirm our ideas.”

Hill has seen first-hand the opportunities that can come about from networking with these businesses.

“Every year a student or two connects with a client. These are real-life opportunities to form networks,” said Hill.