Ever heard of Business Durham’s annual FBM competition? It stands for Future Business Magnates, and it is a business enterprise competition for schools across County Durham. Each school selects a team from Year 8 who are given a brief to start a business inspired by an assigned themed and from that point, are expected to develop their idea by taking part in six challenges throughout the academic year. By the end of the competition, these teams will pitch their business to a panel of industry experts before the Awards Dinner where the winners are announced.

The TICE Team were delighted to run one of this year’s challenges, and it was all about Marketing. The ultimate goal was for the students to create a unique marketing strategy which authentically tells the story behind their product. We also wanted teams to showcase the benefits of their product and question its international appeal. Hypothetically, could it even have a “made in Durham, sold to the world” label on it?

First, we had to go back to the drawing board. What exactly is Marketing?

Answers fired back fairly quickly – ‘showing your product’, ‘advertising’, ‘making your product appealing’. All of which is true but as we began to discover, advertisement and promotion have become so saturated in the digital age. One minute, we could be making a phone call. The next minute, we could be writing a Facebook post. It ultimately depends on what a business aims to communicate to the audience, which is exactly what the workshop was all about.

Before getting carried away with creating emotional TV adverts and online memes, we wanted to ask what is the value of your product? Teams began listing the potential impact of their product and it was wonderful to see some thoughtful outcomes. They considered the environment, disabilities, low financial incomes and even small companies in the local area. All ideas had shown a glimmer of motivation and purpose, which is a good start for any marketing strategy.

So if there’s value in a product, who is it valuable for? With help from the Generation Z timeline, they narrowed down their target audience and it was time to put their teamwork skills to the test. By using a human-shaped jigsaw puzzle, it was their job to decide what their ideal customer would look like. From that point, all students were given a body part to decorate – an arm, a foot, the head. Are they wearing joggers because they are a sports coach? Big hair or short hair? Trainers or stilettos? Although the varied levelled drawing skills created a peculiar and humorous result, they seemed to all have the same intention!

Now that they had the foundation of their marketing plan, it was time to put some methods into place. They were first given insight into current statistics including the fact that 74% of millennials prefer experience over the product and an audience member’s attention span only lasts approximately 8 seconds. No pressure!

It was with examples such as Dominique’s Instagram at @allthatisshe which gave a modern, up-to-date perspective on what is currently working in the marketplace. In her case, it was turning imagination into reality through her stop-motion techniques. Equally so, examples of direct marketing (building relationships) and public relations offered a different angle for teams to consider. From there, ideas were flooding in. There were talks of personalisation on products, creating jigsaws out of merchandise and even bringing in popular brand ambassadors.

Next, they had to think about their business in a holistic sense. What is their story, and how can they convey that? How can their product stand out from other competitors? Well, one of the first things we tend to see when we buy a product is the logo..so it was their turn to create their very own.

Students were advised to especially consider their colour palette and how that can represent their brand. When we think of black, we think of sophistication. When we think of blue, we think of trust. By looking at the colour chart, they were able to showcase their personality and purpose through their logo design. It was very exciting to see their ideas come to life and their marketing strategies fell perfectly into place.

What an amazing workshop with some fantastic students from schools all across County Durham. They had showcased ambition and entrepreneurial drive, as well as creating truly special results that are going to blow the judges away at their final pitches. From all of us at TICE, a huge thank you to Business Durham for having us and best of luck to all FBM 2019 teams!