The MA/MSc Marketing Management Compulsory Residential Weekend School took place during the first weekend of March (2nd – 4th). Students from the September 2017 and January 2018 intakes were invited to the Beaumont Estate near Windsor to experience a corporate training event that would enable character and team building as well as develop their marketing planning skills in a professional and competitive environment.
We gathered outside Madame Tussaud’s on Friday morning. Once on the coach, all students received goodie bags containing the programme, a fleece jacket with the University of Westminster logo, candies, souvenirs, and information about our team. The fleece was particularly welcome given the freezing weather conditions! Teams had been pre-selected by our Course Leader, Dr. Donna Mai, to mix up the nationalities and cohorts. There was some apprehension, but on balance, everyone seemed really excited to work with new people. After a one-hour coach ride, we were welcomed by the hotel staff to the ideally located Beaumont estate in Windsor. It is indeed a unique and enchanting conference destination. Every team was given its own private syndicate room for the next two days, to work on the marketing plan for the meticulously crafted case study. Each room was fully equipped with stationery and refreshments.
The intention was to start off the programme with an ice-breaking activity, that would be conducted in our syndicate rooms. Because of the weather, the course team proposed having some fun outdoors in the blizzard: a contest to see which group could build the best snowman! We all had serious fun attempting to build a snowman while trying to avoid snowballs from fellow students!
Finally, Dr. Jaafar El-Murad, Head of Marketing and Business Strategy Department, presented the marketing plan briefing and we all knew it was going to be a demanding but fun weekend.
The briefing indicated that we were to create an impressive marketing plan in the form of a 10-12 minute presentation explaining the rationale for our marketing objectives and marketing strategy for the niche, values driven-brand Aethic.
We were to progressively submit deliverables to build up the marketing plan as follows:
- Marketing Research & Situation Analysis
- Brand Personality and Positioning
- Marketing Plan and Positioning Ad
On Friday, the first deadline for the marketing planning project was the most challenging one as we had just less than one hour to submit an overview of the market and the brand’s main competitors. During the evening, all teams received an additional unforeseen task: to create a press release for the next morning. All teams worked until late on Friday, and some of the students came together afterward to socialize and relax after the first day.
On Saturday, we started officially at 9 am to continue working on the final submission of the marketing plan. All teams worked hard in their individual meeting rooms and, in between, all teams received some guidance from the tutors. The tutors gave us some good advice on what kind of elements we had to pay the most attention to develop a creative but realistic strategy for Aethic. All subjects that we have learned from different taught modules on the course fell into place in the process of designing the marketing plan. The lessons we had at the university and the briefings helped us to get started. Time passed by very quickly and we all were very happy to submit the work on time. We had a bit of time to practice for the presentation, and we must say that all teams did a fantastic job considering the short time we had to deliver the work!
Once all the hard work was over. All that remained was the prize-giving ceremony and the formal dinner – the highlights of the whole Residential Weekend! All students dressed up for the occasion and looked like true professionals. Every student received a certificate – and a round of applause from an enthusiastic audience!
It even seemed like a competition who received the loudest cheers while getting to the front. Everyone was curious who would be the winner. Several prizes were given to the winners of the photo competition, the winners for the best ad, the winners for the best press release and finally, it was time to announce the runners-up for the outstanding marketing plan, and at last the overall winners. Team 1 was recognized with the first prize, which included Aethic products, and a gold medal. The names of the winning team members would also be engraved on the commemorative plaque.
The seated dinner took place in a separate and elegant room with round tables where a 3-course menu was served. Chatter and laughter could be heard throughout the dining room and everyone enjoyed being together on this, the last evening. A lot of pictures were taken, and the professors gave some great speeches thanking everyone for participating and for making this event a great success and experience for everyone.
Special thanks to our course leader Dr. Donna Mai and the other facilitators (Dr. Jaafar El-Murad, Dr. Luca Cacciolatti, Dr. La Toya Quamina, Clive Helm, Dr. Frances Ekwulugo and Kate Ingsa) who organised the event.
The Residential Weekend helped us to enhance our practical knowledge in marketing planning, to work on our ability to present a convincing marketing plan and to apply our knowledge to an existing brand in a professional environment. We genuinely liked the Aethic brand and hope our ideas can be translated into actionable plans. We had a great weekend as we found it a really enriching experience!
Rocio Llorente & Lena Retzler, MA Marketing Management
For more pictures, see the course Facebook page.