Consumer behavior class presents marketing plans for Arts Fest events

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Several groups of Penn State Smeal College of Business undergraduates put their marketing creativity to work this semester developing marketing plans for BookFestPA, a literary event of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (CPFA), and First Night, a CPFA-sponsored New Year's Eve celebration.

Associate professor of marketing Meg Meloy incorporated a real-world client into the project for her Marketing 330: Consumer Behavior class to enhance the students’ experiences.

“The students always benefit from taking the concepts learned in class and applying them in actual business context where there are more moving pieces to consider and greater uncertainty,” said Meloy. “It makes them think more flexibly about cause and effect.”

Rick Bryant, executive director of the CPFA, came to the students in one section of Meloy’s Marketing 330 class and asked them to put together ideas to increase attendance at both BookFestPA and First Night.

“In some ways, (small businesses and nonprofit organizations) require greater marketing creativity and resilience because the budgets are small. This exercise tests their problem solving and marketing skills so they can more fully appreciate the role effective marketing can play."

    -- Meg Meloy, associate professor of marketing, Smeal College of Business

“Each team was tasked with doing a marketing plan for one of the events, while staying within a limited budget,” said Bryant. “My background isn’t in marketing, so I’m always happy to hear new ideas.”

The teams all met with Bryant individually to learn more about the events and to do some preliminary brainstorming. Then, they developed integrated plans with ideas ranging from expanded events to improved social media usage and advertising tactics.

“The students often overlook marketing career opportunities with small businesses and nonprofit organizations. In some ways, these are the businesses that require greater marketing creativity and resilience because the budgets are small,” explained Meloy. “This exercise tests their problem solving and marketing skills so they can more fully appreciate the role effective marketing can play. I am so grateful to the organization for giving us permission to use them as our learning incubator.”

Students delivered final presentations to Meloy and Bryant in class earlier this month.

“The presentations really reinforced a lot of our current ideas, and often it’s the simple ideas that work the best, like improving signage,” Bryant said. “I do plan to implement some of their ideas.”

Another section of Meloy’s class worked with State College Framing Co. and Gallery. Meloy picks a new community client to work with each year, and in the past has worked with the Mid-State Literary Council, Girls on the Run, the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania and more.

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Last Updated December 18, 2013