Marketing student hones skills pushing doughnuts

Release Date: 9/21/2011

One sweet perk of going to school at Ozarks is the doughnuts. Every Monday and Friday morning, like clockwork, trays of doughnuts, scones, bagels, and other treats appear mysteriously in the workroom, free for the taking. And those enjoying the treats will also be familiar with the emails announcing the event, colorful and humorous invitations to come enjoy the cornucopia of sugar-glazed delights.

These emails are the work of Alex Murcia. A senior marketing/management major with a strategic communication minor from Grecia, Costa Rica, Alex works part-time for Dr. Niece and his executive assistant, Connie Booty. For Alex, the job offers a perfect opportunity for him to practice his marketing skills.

Alex Murcia at his workstation in the president's workroom.

Alex Murcia is using his marketing and strategic communication skills to promote "doughnut day" with some unique email messages.

"I think some students feel their work study job is just something else you do while you take classes," Alex said, "but I think it's a powerful, powerful tool for my resumé, having been able to have an actual job where I got to work with all these different students on campus and organizations, and a chance to put all my knowledge to work."

Specifically, Alex targets his audience with the emails he sends out as part of his job. "In marketing we are taught we need to take advantage of every single piece of information we send out, and though it's not a huge email, a picture is worth a million words, which is why I use the strategy of including images with the emails I send to students," he said. "If one day I decide to target only students because for some reason they are not coming to get the doughnuts, I will develop a very brief strategy encouraging them to come. I will use ideas designed to get them hungry, or mention that it's cold outside and we have coffee and hot chocolate. It's important to use the environment, or even what's going on around campus at the time. I also use the holidays when appropriate."

Alex sees the opportunity as more than a way to get rid of doughnuts. "It's not only just to target students, but also to give them something more than a doughnut," he said, "like changing their mood to a positive view during the day with these very, very early-morning emails."

Another target audience is faculty and staff. "For them I'd use more mature content," he said. "At that point, the fact the faculty and staff are generally older than students is important, so I'd use emails that would appeal to the maturity factor. One example might involve pets, taking care of pets, because that group of people is more likely than students to have pets. So I work that into the ads."

Targeting the animal lovers.

Alex uses images of pets to target faculty and staff, who are more likely to be pet owners.

He says part of the fun is seeing what sort of feedback he gets for particular emails, to see how many people respond.

So far the responses have been uniformly positive. "Stuff like 'Great email,' 'Awesome,' 'Thank you for making my day better,' and 'It's hilarious,' are common" he says. "As I mentioned, I think one of my main purposes in doing this is to make people's days better. On Mondays specially, people are often tired after the weekend, therefore I might send an email with something to help them endure through the week. So it's always helpful to receive feedback."

Alex has put together a portfolio of all the emails he's sent and has had people approach him about possible job opportunities due to his marketing. "I'm currently working with the U of O webmaster on promotional ideas for the university website," he said. "They just launched a new design for the whole site, so I looked at it and its functionality from a marketing perspective and gave them some suggestions. They invited me to come over and be a part of their promotional strategy. It's a good idea and I feel honored to be a part of those projects here at school. It's a long-term project and right now I'm able to give my point of view, so that's gratifying."

Alex looks forward to returning to Costa Rica following graduation in May. "My best friend and girlfriend came to Costa Rica during the summer, and I felt like I was marketing my country to all my friends. I call it 'The Land of Awesomeness' - which it is! - so people are encouraged to check it out further. I'm currently applying for jobs back home. I definitely want to go back and am looking for a company where I can use my skills in marketing and management. I'm very creative, so I like to come up with new ideas. I know I have a lot to give, and I hope my experience and all I've learned here I can put to work in the future there. My work study job has been a great way to develop new ideas to use in the real world. Everyone should take advantage of the opportunity."

The fun and whimsical!

Taking advantage of his PhotoShop skills, Alex pokes a bit of fun at the sterotypical "cop and doughnut" image.