In their quest to learn how to sell things, marketing students sometimes forget the biggest sale they’ll ever make: themselves.
The good news is the internet age presents more opportunities than ever before to do just that. The bad news is it’s not an intuitive ability, even for a generation that has never known a world without a screen at its fingertips.
Amy Buttell ’83 has been running Lake Effect Creative, her content creation and consulting company, since 1999, and she’s seen a lot of things change in the marketing world. One thing that hasn’t, however, is a skill as old as human language itself but as important as ever–storytelling.
“I call it a storytelling lab because that’s what marketing is all about,” Buttell said of the Integrated Marketing Communications class she teaches at Furman. “And in my opinion, the best way to learn how to tell stories is to do it.”
To that end, students are required to create a digital magazine, write blogs and build LinkedIn profiles, and when they’re finished they have valuable examples of their ability to use cutting-edge technology as well as new resumes on which to put them.
“We had to create a narrative in our LinkedIn bio that wasn’t just ‘I’m looking for this’ but demonstrated a time when we used our strengths in the field that we want to get into,” said Chad Boltz ’18 who took the course in the spring.
When potential employers visit Boltz’s LinkedIn page now, they learn how, as an intern in University Communications, he managed Furman’s social media accounts, showcasing his ability to adjust on the fly and take responsibility. Buttell thinks the LinkedIn project is the most difficult for her students.
“Telling your own story is the hardest thing to do,” she says. “And if it’s not specific, I don’t care about it. Don’t tell me you’re leader–describe in your profile what you’ve done. It’s much more powerful for me to draw a conclusion about you.”
To drive the point home, Buttell enlists the expertise of Greenville digital content agency EnVeritas Group, and Jay Spivey, publisher of “Fête” Greenville magazine. “Fête” was the only online flip magazine in South Carolina when it launched eight years ago, and Spivey helps the students create a similar-looking product of their own using Readymag.
“My format teaches students a very simple way to produce something online that looks great on a phone,” Spivey said. “When they land their first job, they’ll know how to make a communications tool for their company that most businesses don’t already have.”
Ty Randell ’17 was part of a team that collaborated to create “Sustainability at Furman,” and the project helped him land his job as North American sales manager for Finnish company Confidex Ltd.
“During my interview I talked about the work I had done, and the digital magazine came up. I told them how the class taught me how to market myself and also promote Furman, and they thought that was really interesting,” Randell, a business major from Lake City, Florida, said. “This class helped me get this job.”
EnVeritas marketing associate Shawn Daughhetee came to campus to aid students as they wrote blogs she then posted for use by professional marketers. “I wanted something from their unique perspective as business students in that age group,” she says. “They’d never written a blog specifically for a website. Most of their work had been academic or papers, so it’s a different style. Getting them to loosen up was a little challenging, but having a blog they can link to and show their work is really cool.”
And, Buttell hopes, it’s a step toward a successful career. And it’s an example of the many high-impact learning opportunities promised to every student through The Furman Advantage.
“Why should someone hire you?” Buttell says. “Figuring that out is the work of a lifetime.”
Back row: Jordan Burrell ’18, Grace Brink ’18, Will Tracy ’19, David Bernardy, visiting assistant professor of English, Brad Meccariello ’18, Sydney Schirra ’18
Front row: Annie Sanford ’18, Julie Esworthy ’18, Catherine Luke ’18
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