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The Hackathon for Marketers: Students, Startups and Marketing Coaches

Posted by Brad Voeller on November 3, 2015

Brad-coaching.jpgYou can find countless hackathons for developers and engineers. Even entrepreneurs can attend the 3-Day StartupBut there’s nothing for marketers.

What if you could create a fast-paced environment where teams of students work on the real-world marketing challenges of local companies?

*drumroll, please*

Introducing the first ever Digital Marketing Hackathon

On October 16-17, 2015, Digital Creative Institute hosted the first ever digital marketing hackathon with the UT Austin Student AMA Chapter at the McCombs School of Business. Over 90 students registered for the event. Although most students were business majors, the group included a diverse array of majors including Spanish, Computer Science, and Communications.

Check out the video below for a quick recap!

All the students had one thing in common: a tremendous passion for all things digital and an eagerness to challenge themselves. Because this was not a for-credit class, the event drew the best and brightest from across campus and even a few off campus. Every participant was there because they wanted to learn. They knew this event was important for their future career aspirations. And we wouldn't want it any other way!

So what happens when you bring together 11 marketing coaches, 4 local companies, and a room full of energetic students for 8 hours over two days? Six incredible sessions comprised of a 20-minute presentation followed by 40 minutes of application in teams of 7-10 marketing coaching startup

These sessions included:

  1. Crafting an integrated digital campaign strategy
  2. Defining buyer personas and goals
  3. Creating top of funnel content
  4. Outlining content promotion strategy
  5. Measuring results
  6. Pitching the client

“Think of mobile by default, not as an afterthought.” -Doug Kern, marketing coach (Tweet this)

At the end, it was immensely rewarding to see the creativity and strategic insight demonstrated by the students as they pitched their digital marketing campaigns to real startups in San Antonio and Austin. The startup companies were so impressed with the students and were eager to hire such growth-oriented talent.

We had a blast and learned a lot. No, really! Here are some of our takeaways and ideas for making future marketing hackathons even better.

  • Assign participants and companies to teams in advance: This will cut down time needed to organize and handle logistics.
  • Provide a template and examples for final presentations: This first time around we spent too much time figuring out what the end result should look like. No need to keep everyone guessing.
  • Make event more student led: The leadership team was amazing! We are convinced they can do even greater work if we better train and support them in advance on how to lead the experience.
  • Obtain sponsors: This would help us provide stronger support to the student organizing teams and help offset the AMA chapter budget needs. Result is better quality and faster scaling to other campuses.
  • Create a better system for portfolio integration: We were blown away by the quality of the teams and wish employers would have had a front-row seat with us. Thinking through how to make it simple to capture the experience and showcase it in personalized portfolios.

“Inbound marketing is all about empathy.” -Sara Helmy, marketing coach (Tweet this)

In addition to more hackathon type events, we hope to see more hands-on learning experience at McCombs and other business schools. Integrating leading technologies and certifications from industry partners like Google and HubSpot into the curriculum will accelerate students’ careers.

Students like those who attended the first ever Digital Marketing Hackathon are incredible. And given the right opportunity, they’ll be unstoppable. Here’s to many more Digital Marketing Hackathons!

WANT your company to participate in a digial MARKETING HACKATHON? Let us know and we'll send you more info!

Request information about Hackathon

We also held a Hackathon at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX - read the recap here!

Topics: For Recent Grads