The agnes Student Associates Program

Marketing through iterations of external triggers

In Nir Eyal’s award winning book Hooked, he illustrates how to use both external and internal triggers to build habit forming products.

Internal triggers

don’t use sensory stimuli because we can’t touch, hear or see them. They manifest automatic reactions and are often times negative emotions. Amongst the most powerful are loneliness, boredom, confusion, and pain.

External triggers

are interactions in the physical. They are videos, ads, posters, blogs, articles, environments, word-of-mouth, and situations that spark a desire within us to use a product or service.

Application to My Summer Internship

While working on the agnes marketing team, I was able to directly apply what I learned from Nir’s book to develop an approach that would generate external triggers to target, engage, and gain potential users. Our product, an app called Agnes, functioned to help college students find events & groups on campus based specifically on their interests.

Through researching existing, popular channels’ (such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter) engagement & use-cases, I discovered a way to use our direct competitor, Facebook Events, as a way for us to penetrate the college market.

While Facebook’s overall college student user-base pales in comparison to more popular products like Snapchat, “Facebook Events was one of the most centralized ways for student groups to organize & host events (with word-of-mouth from friends, posters, and individual websites scattering miles behind).

Determining an Angle

Because I was simultaneously working on the product design side, I knew that our tech & user experience was better and more college centric than anything else that students were currently using to be a part of events & groups on campus that they cared about.

But in order to convert Facebook events users to agnes users, we first needed to figure out what specific, external triggers to employ to best streamline the process of events & groups creation, organization, and registration.

Through brainstorming, I was able to narrow down to the plan that:

  1. Would incentivized large, active organizations to exclusively use our product for creating, organizing, and hosting events through our semester-long sponsorships.
  2. Had they type of forward-looking support structure necessary to continue growing both current & future partnerships long after our initial, on-the-ground efforts. This requires us to build relationships with students on campus who are looking to both engage with their community & expand their professional experience that a real company like us can provide.

In final form, we called it the agnes (SAP) Students Associates Program

SAP Program: Brainstorming & Planning

Pitch to Potential Student Associates: 
Agnes is the smartest way to discover campus and stay connected.

Instantly receive personalized recommendations from the largest collection of events, parties, and groups on campus. Our penguin makes it easier than ever to manage a recruiting process, communicate with your team, and promote events.

We’re looking for students who share our vision of a world where every person discovers and pursues meaningful experiences that strengthen our communities to spearhead our student associates program:

Marketing Associates Role:

1. Researching & Understanding Your College Campus:

  • Find the best, most motivated Content Creators
  • Find several influential, popular groups around campus to sponsor
  • (Tips) Target large, influential, popular, trendy groups for starters and work your way into more specific niches. Do this by creating quadrant mapping.

2. Application, interviewing, on boarding

  • For content creators, review their work/portfolio
  • Through interview/application, make certain they are experienced, passionate, and skilled
  • (Tips) Think about it this way, by looking at their work, do you feel compelled? If not, then they are probably not worth it. Use your own judgement as a consumer of college content.
  • For groups, make guidelines for the areas this group covers.
  • What audience does this group have an impact on around campus?
  • Evaluate if they are a good fit for Agnes’ brand and if they are worth sponsoring.
  • (Tips) Does this groups’ mission and events match with Agnes’? If not exactly, will it better/further/advance or do the opposite?

3. Pitching

  • After finding these groups, convince them that they should use Agnes to plan & host events and organize groups because of the tech and also that we will sponsor them.
  • (Tips) Do not make it seem like we are just throwing money at them. Our tech has great potential and the pitch should be balanced, more like a co-sponsorship.
  • After finding these content creators, convince them that our platform is a great way for them to voice their work and gain experience working for a company and that you’ll help promote their work.
  • (Tips) When speaking to true content creators, understand that the one thing they care about most is their work. Writers, photographers, film makers or artists. Respect what they do by appreciating and assuring that they will not only have the freedom to do what they want by creating self driven content, but also gain professional experience and exposure working with Agnes. E.g. John Malkovic w/Squarespace:

4. Event Planning/Promotion

  • A key role of a marketing associate is to assist in the event planning and promoting of a group. Usually this does not involve much work because we are only aiming for the most popular, influential, and impactful groups on campus. They are most likely to be large enough to be able to plan & execute their own events. However, you should always be ready to help with anything they need, be it resources, communications… be available and of service to them like a waiter/waitress at a restaurant checking in frequently to see if you can do anything.
  • Another key role for a marketing associate is to work with content creators so they can document an event hosted by a group we are sponsoring and promote their work.
  • (Tips) In your team of marketing associates, some will have more experience helping & conducting event planning. Understand each others’ strengths and allow the more experienced to take the lead.

5. Outreach and relationships

  • As a brand, there are always more possibilities for expansion and growth
  • Create personal and ongoing relationships with groups and content creators
  • Give both what they need and be ready to assist in sudden changes
  • Create and promote your own Agnes events that are creative and engaging
  • (Tip) Strategize how you will give out free swag
  • In general if you think there are more people we can work with (content creators or groups) take the initiative to reach out! Passionate, driven, and talented people are everywhere. As a marketing associate, one of your most important tasks is to identify and reach out to them
  • (Tips) Think not only about the members/leaders within the groups, but also the people that are interested and attend the events these groups host. A lot of times, the best ones are hidden in the crowd.

6. Guidelines & Must Dos for execution

  • Make sure the groups that we are sponsoring are using ONLY Agnes to host, update, and plan their events or organize their groups
  • Make sure that part of the content creators’ works include covering the groups’ we are sponsoring’s events, among the other content they are creating that should also represent Agnes’ values
  • (Tips) Always consider how we can get more users who are not part of the groups to download and use the Agnes App
  • Social media engagement
  • streamlining Facebook events through Agnes
  • create exclusive events that are only on Agnes

7. Social Media

  • Manage and promote content creators’ work on social media pages (make sure engagement is up to par)
  • Manage and run @Agnes_Cornell account (IG)
  • Manage social media relationships with groups
  • Make sure all relationships and communication between content creators & groups are clear so that content generates itself
  • (Tips) Assign specific associates to specific tasks and roles will dramatically increase efficiency and results. This is a great example. Just like event planning, some will have more experience, ideas, or passions for online/digital marketing/social media. Assign a social media manager.

8. “Why you should be a Marketing Associate”

  • This is a professional internship experience
  • Providing real learning
  • Making real impact in a company’s growth
  • You will gain exposure to a startup
  • Have a chance to build a team of likeminded individuals who are just as driven as you are
  • Working with a content creator who can publish content that you can promote
  • Branding, sales, communications, marketing, event planning experience
  • You are essentially gaining real world experience running a campus-based company

Content Creators Role:

1. Writers:

  • Write about topics that are of interests to you personally. If you are an avid writer, just keep doing what you are doing.
  • Your work should align with our values.
  • But also cover events that are going on by working with the marketers! Think of your role as also a journalist. You’re doing both creative and out of the box writing while also covering the engaging events going on around you.

2. Photographers:

  • Take photos that are of interest to you personally. If you are an avid photographer, just keep doing what you are doing.
  • Your work should align with our values.
  • But also cover events that are going on by working with the marketers! Think of your role as also a photo journalist. You’re doing both creative and out of the box coverage while also covering the engaging events going on around you.

3. Others:

  • If you conduct a certain type of medium that is not listed above, feel free to let us know!
  • All we ask is that you create content that are of interest to you personally. If you are an avid content creator, just keep doing what you are doing.
  • Your work should align with our values.
  • But also cover events that are going on by working with the marketers! Think of your role as also a creative documenter. You’re doing both creative and out of the box coverage while also telling the stories of the engaging events going on around you.

Student Organizations that We Sponsor (Their Roles)

  • Groups that fit our values, hosting events that fit our values (very broad, but important)
  • Anywhere that they are already advertising (FB, INSTA…) they would need to streamline all event and group planning through Agnes
  • Need to want to promote their own group and events
  • Promote Agnes by only using our App
  • Allow content creators to capture their events

Visualization of Program Materials

The SAP Recruitment Guide Serves as:

  1. A quick summary of agnes’ mission statement & value proposition
  2. An outline of campuses that agnes plans to launch at
  3. A brief pitch to potential student associates & overview of the program
  4. An introduction to the agnes team

References of Other Programs:

Give Butter & Deloitte’s Campus Ambassador Programs

The SAP On-boarding Guide Serves as:

  1. A welcome onto the team
  2. A more detailed product description
  3. A reminder of the campuses agnes plans to launch at
  4. A mission statement for what agnes hopes to accomplish with the student associates
  5. An outline of roles and responsibilities
  6. Contact

The Product Guide Serves as an In-Depth Explanation for the Product’s:

  1. Discovery Features
  2. Management & Organization Features
  3. Events
  4. Groups
  5. Chat
  6. Profile

Product Guide Drafts

Iterations 1, 2, 3 from left to right

Bringing the Program to Life: Other External Triggers

After building out the SAP and it’s content, we needed to complete the logistics required to make it a reality.

This required heavy operations & communications work such as:

1. Researching, filtering, and finding the campus organizations that we want to partner with & the potential associates that we would like to join our team

Our team had sent out mail merge emails to 20 universities, averaging 100 emails per campus

2. Getting the word out to associates and student groups through carefully constructed copy writing in emails, social-media posts, Appstore, and website.

Email & Appstore Copy Writing

3. Communicating & onboarding student groups & associates for Fall

On-boarding Email

Because of the timing of my internship, I was not able to see the entire project through. As we speak, the team is currently working with associates from different campuses across the states & planning a push to get ready for launch late August.

As my summer came to a close,

I was amazed by how much I was able to directly apply concepts from Nir’s book to work on both the marketing & product team. As an eager designer, it made me more sensitive than ever before on how information is taken & received in our daily routines.

Tony is currently a rising Junior majoring in Fine Arts and minoring in Business at Cornell University, Ithaca NY. He recently interned in Washington D.C. over the summer as a Product Design and Marketing Intern for

He can be reached at: