The atrium of the Rowe Building was buzzing Monday afternoon, as eight groups of Commerce students exhibited marketing plans for local businesses and organizations.
The event was the Marketing Plan Trade Show, the main project for the fourth-year Marketing Strategy class. Students in this class approached local non-profits and businesses, and for four months have worked with them to develop marketing plans to address particular issues from each business.
The local organizations were Neptune Theatre, Freak Lunchbox, Choco Café and Chocolates by Design, Oddfellows Barbershop, IceCap Asset Management Limited, enVie – A Vegan Kitchen, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and Chester & Felicity.
Jenna Cavanagh, Fraser Godbout, Patrick Henderson and James Lewis got the opportunity to help Neptune Theatre.
“I’m from here,” said Patrick. “I used to do classes at Neptune when I was a little kid, so I jumped at the chance to work with them.”
Patrick described the process of building a marketing plan. “The first step was a kick-off session with Neptune to establish what they wanted to solve and for us to see how their marketing arm currently operates.” Neptune, he explained, was focused on the issue of attracting young people to the theatre.
The student group performed primary and secondary research to help them mine data relating to the media consumption, habits and behaviour of millennials. In one exercise, they used “scenario mapping” as a creative tool to discuss marketing needs.
“For example, say it’s a Friday night and Jenna is looking for something to do with her girlfriends. How would she research her entertainment options and decide where to go? That revealed that Neptune needs to consider that students use a number of channels and screens to decide on activities.”
As they worked, the group met monthly with the Neptune marketing team to discuss their findings. “Getting to know the Neptune team really made us care about the project,” said Patrick. “We got very comfortable with them. It was very collaborative…. We as students know what we want, and they know what’s feasible for them.”
An invaluable experience
Last week the students presented their preliminary marketing plan to Neptune’s Board. The feelings of collaboration and caring were reflected in comments the students received in return.
“We were thrilled to see the level of engagement, enthusiasm and professionalism the students showed for their project,” said Virginia Jones, Chair of the Neptune Board’s Advocacy and Education Committee. “Their exchanges with Staff and Board Members were full of fresh perspective. We eagerly await their final report to our Board.”
The final report, Patrick explained, will be presented later this month after a final check-in with the directors.
Sergio Carvalho, instructor of the Marketing Strategy class, is incredibly enthusiastic about the projects’ effects on the students and community.
“This has been an invaluable experience for our students,” he said, and mentioned the high praise the marketing students have received.
Patrick agrees. “It was a great experience. We got to touch all areas of marketing,” he noted. “It was rewarding because we were learning how to manage a relationship with a business.” He explained that the real-world experiences of the past four months made the students think about the audiences for their marketing plans.
“You think about the reader, not just the words you’re putting on the page." In terms of Neptune Theatre, hopefully that will translate to a different kind of audience.
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