In her home country of Colombia, Carolina Salazar studied industrial engineering and landed a marketing analyst position at a chemical company. A few years later, she realized she needed a formal marketing education in order to reach her full potential in the field. She moved to Atlanta to pursue a Master of Science in Marketing from the Robinson College of Business and serve as a graduate research assistant for Associate Professor Denish Shah. “The program offers a cool combination of marketing concepts plus data-driven models companies should be implementing right now,” Salazar says.
Salazar and her classmates tackled local companies’ projects, including building a social media strategy for the Georgia Swarm. After relocating from Minnesota in 2015, the lacrosse team struggled to drum up attendance at its matches, which take place at Infinite Energy Arena, located well outside the city of Atlanta in Duluth. In addition to recommending a retargeting campaign and advertisements based on zip code, Salazar and her peers suggested the team explore social media platforms beyond the basics like Facebook and Twitter. “Lacrosse games are just as much about entertainment as they are about the sport itself,” she explains. Because a singer typically performs at the games, the students encouraged the team to advertise on music-related channels such as Spotify and Pandora.
Salazar also collaborated with the Atlanta Business League to discern why, according to a recent census, African-American businesses underperformed in comparison to white- and Asian-owned firms. After analyzing approximately 100 data sets, Salazar and her classmates determined that business owners’ access to and level of education correlates with their success. Salazar took the assignment a step further than her classmates. As part of her assistantship, she helped compile a presentation that Shah delivered to the Atlanta Business League’s board. “The combination of going to class and understanding real companies’ issues was incredible,” she says. “It’s one thing to understand theory, but acting on what you’ve learned makes all the difference.”
Salazar graduated in December 2016 and immediately accepted a position on the customer analytics team at HD Supply, where she recently was promoted to senior analyst. She cites one particular project as her “baby” — spearheading the creation of a new marketing strategy based on customer lifecycle management (CLM). CLM defines different customer stages (new, growing, seasoned) and allows for customized communications as opposed to one-size-fits-all mass marketing. “It’s the future of how our marketing team is going to roll out,” she says with excitement.