A lean startup spirit led a student club to revamp its signature annual event, turning it into an opportunity for undergraduates to connect with Eugene-area professionals.
The University of Oregon American Marketing Association (UO AMA) has spent the academic year focused on growing its membership. The club has extended its reach beyond the Lundquist College, seeking to engage UO journalism students and others. It has also sent members to attend the monthly lunch meetings of the Emerald Marketing Association, a local professional group.
“We decided to run the club like a startup, nickel-and-diming everything we do,” said Jonathan Thomas ’14, the group’s president. “We have a limited budget, and we wanted to make sure we use it in the right places.”
As members of the club's leadership team scrutinized the most expensive item in the club’s annual budget—an annual sit-down dinner and casino night aptly named The Main Event—they realized that the event, though fun, was no longer providing the kind of return their members were looking for.
For a brief period, club leaders considered doing without a big event and instead using the funds to provide more site-visits for club members.
“But then we thought, wait—there’s a ton of great marketing and advertising professionals and agencies right here in Eugene, and we haven’t even tapped into them yet,” recalled Thomas.
Fast forward to February, and a new event—the UO AMA Marketing Mixer—was in full swing. Local networking expert KL Wells led the crowd through meet-and-greet basics. Attendees—thirty professionals and sixty-two students—mingled and enjoyed beverages and light snacks. Meanwhile, club leadership stayed busy matching undergraduates with organizations looking for interns.
So far, the response from participants has been positive and the club plans to repeat the event going forward.
“I’m excited for next year. I’m hoping that it will become an event where professionals can see all the activity that’s happening here at the college and for students to become more aware of what’s happening here in Eugene,” said Thomas.
Visit the UO AMA website and get a taste of the Marketing Mixer in the above video by UO student Chris Price.