"One of the reasons why I selected Bauer for my MBA was because it was more than just a piece of paper that said 'MBA' on it."
Heather Nguyen and three fellow University of Houston MBA students went beyond the textbook to showcase their online marketing skills as part of the Google Online Marketing Challenge, available as part of a C. T. Bauer College of Business class on Internet Marketing and E-Commerce with professor Steven Koch.
"We all took it because we want to learn more about online marketing, working with Google's marketing products and be able to get a nice taste of real-world online marketing in action," said James McLellan, an MBA student.
The contest allows the more than 12,000 students from around the world display their skills in advertising, e-commerce, integrated communication, management information systems, marketing and new media technologies. Teams were challenged to create online marketing campaigns for a real client. The UH team chose The Children's Museum of Houston.
"The active part of our challenge was three weeks—that's when we were running our Google Ad Words campaign with our budget of $250," he said.
Teams from Bauer have participated in the challenge for the last four years.
After speaking with their client and assessing their needs, the team set a goal of selling 30 tickets and at least two memberships online.
"At the end of the competition we had sold 264 tickets and five memberships," said teammate Jason Ruth. "And not just base memberships. We sold family memberships. We had an ROI of about 651 percent after cannibalization."
The success was evident, but Google judges also evaluated the teams' pre- and post-campaign reports along with their performance during the campaign. Then they waited.
"I was stuck in traffic on San Felipe when I heard my phone buzzing and I saw the email," McLellan said. It was the announcement that the UH team had won.
"We were all very excited," Ruth said. "Each and every one of us is very proud of the work we did. We couldn't have done it without each other. This has been just a great team experience."
The Bauer team of Heather Nguyen, James McLellan, Jason Ruth and Adam Jalfon was named Americas Winner, which earned them prizes and a trip to Google.
"Working with everyone involved, Adam, Heather, Jason and professor Steve Koch was a fantastic experience—one of the best in my life.," McLellan said.
Bauer MBAs are part of what's happening at the University of Houston.