Student projects provide local area businesses with fresh marketing perspectives

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Smeal College of Business students enrolled in Marketing 422 Advertising and Promotions Management this spring gained real-world experience through developing integrated marketing plans for local small businesses.

Clients for the spring 2014 projects included Vamos Lion, Blue I.V. Boutique, Sweet Heat Gourmet and Contempo Artisan Boutique.

Course instructors Jennifer Coupland, clinical associate professor of marketing and the Paiste Fellow in Teaching and Learning, and Karen Winterich, assistant professor of marketing, said that students tend to be more engaged with projects like these because of the possibility that clients might actually incorporate their ideas.

“What I love about these projects is that they provide a very real-world experience. Students learn about working with a client, developing solutions according to their unique needs, and even have to deal with a few curveballs along the way.”

-- Jennifer Chang Coupland, Paiste Fellow in Teaching and Learning, Smeal College of Business

Students spent the semester engaging with their clients and conducting related research to formulate a marketing plan for the business, including a mix of social media, promotions, advertising and public relations ideas. They even generated ideas for improving store layout and appearance.

“What I love about these projects is that they provide a very real-world experience,” said Coupland. “Students learn about working with a client, developing solutions according to their unique needs, and even have to deal with a few curveballs along the way.”

In the final week of classes, students presented final recommendations to their clients, as well as Senior Business Consultant Linda Feltman of the Penn State Small Business Development Center. This semester, all of the course’s clients are also clients of the Small Business Development Center.

“Small businesses are often stretched for resources, so marketing plans tend to take a back seat to everyday operations concerns. Projects like these allow my clients to gain some new ideas that could potentially result in an increased bottom line.”

-- Linda Feltman, senior business consultant, Penn State Small Business Development Center

“We work with Linda to identify good candidates for these student projects,” said Winterich. “After the students’ present their final recommendations to the clients, Linda and her staff can work with the companies to implement the students’ new ideas.” Feltman said her clients benefit from the students’ perspectives on marketing and fresh look at the issues.

The collaboration between Marketing 422 and the SBDC began in 2012 with just one section of the course working with local client Webster’s Café and Bookstore and has expanded now to all sections of the course.

“Small businesses are often stretched for resources, so marketing plans tend to take a back seat to everyday operations concerns,” said Feltman. “Projects like these allow my clients to gain some new ideas that could potentially result in an increased bottom line.”

About undergraduate education at the Smeal College of Business
The Smeal College of Business offers undergraduate majors and minors that span the business spectrum, preparing students for a business world that is complex, global and diverse. Smeal undergraduate students have access to dozens of student organizations and involvement opportunities, study abroad partnerships around the world, and personalized career planning and academic advising services to help them thrive at Smeal and in their careers. Learn more at www.smeal.psu.edu/uge.

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Last Updated May 22, 2014