Naveen Jindal School of Management junior Shannon Cotts was chosen by the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the American Marketing Association as its 2019 Collegiate Marketer of the Year. The award was among 26 presented at the organization’s annual awards gala May 2.
An accounting and marketing double major, Cotts won for work she had done last fall in a Marketing Projects (MKT 4370) class with teammates Matthew Barker, Alyssa Martindale and Colby Thompson. The students’ objective had been to develop a marketing plan to help increase consumer awareness of FixD, a Dallas-based home warranty and service repair company. The project required extensive consumer research. The firm indicated the students’ work played a part in the company’s acquisition in January by ANGI Homeservices, the parent company of Angie’s List, a web-based home services company.
At the beginning of the project, the students met with FixD leadership and discovered that the startup company had not conducted much market research in the past. Going in, the students hypothesized that FixD would gain momentum by first interacting with consumers through its one-off repair services and then be able to upsell its home warranty products after gaining their trust.
“That was not the case,” Cotts said. “We determined that people were actually attracted to FixD based on home warranty, not on home service. We found out that most people already have someone they already trust to do their quick repairs. To tear them away from those relationships would take a lot of energy.”
Rita Egeland, an adjunct faculty member at the Jindal School, was the instructor for the class. She said the students had done surveys with FixD customers. They had gotten much useful data, but it was not in a format that was ready for analysis.
“Shannon spent untold hours making sense of the data,” Egeland said. “Most students would have given up, asked if they could take just a sample and then project results from that sample, but Shannon went through every bit of it.”
Egeland, the former chief marketing officer at Rent-A-Center and 7-Eleven, said the product the student team delivered for FixD was, at its essence, at a level of quality equal to that of a professional marketing consulting firm.
“It’s hard for me as a marketing person to envision a more insightful or more impactful project than the one Shannon and her team delivered,” she said. “I don’t think they had much competition.”
Cotts’ award marks the sixth time a JSOM student has won AMA DFW’s Collegiate Marketer of the Year award.
Dr. Julie Haworth, director of the undergraduate marketing degree program at the Jindal School, said that having students like Cotts win the award not only adds credibility to the marketing bachelor’s degree at UT Dallas but also provides the students with a significant résumé enhancer.
“This award gives our marketing program bragging rights,” she said. “It also shows potential employers that students like Shannon have implemented a marketing project and had outstanding results.”
—Jimmie R. Markham