Students at Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School got some real-world business and marketing experience by helping local businesses through their Strategic Marketing class this spring.
According to Assistant Professor and Marketing Program Director Erin Smith, right, the class is made up of Marketing and Business Administration majors who partner with a local business, treat the business as a “client” and develop a marketing strategy for that business.
“The project includes client meetings, site visits, group discussion and collaboration, a PowerPoint presentation and final presentation to the client at the end of the semester,” Smith said. “The students are learning about building client relationships, the discovery process, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, competitive advantage and competitor analysis, situation analysis, integrated marketing communications and overall marketing strategy.”
It’s a win-win situation for both students and the business, as the students gain real-world experience as they navigate client meetings, preparation, research, analysis and presentations. The business, in turn, hears fresh ideas and is presented with a marketing strategy to take into the next year.
“The students also make valuable connections with the client and learn the importance of building relationships, as well as proper meeting etiquette and question formation,” Smith added. “Most of the time, the client adopts a few of the ideas presented. Both the students and business really appreciate the project, and it ends of being very beneficial to both parties.”
Cade Devlin (’21), a Business Administration major from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, was one of the Strategic Marketing students who was able to partner with a local business. He and his group worked with Go ‘N Bananas Family Fun Center in Lancaster. By learning about the business and how it serves customers, Devlin and his fellow students discovered how to best serve Go ‘N Bananas.
“We found that they needed an increase in their social media development—a need for a development of connections with local businesses,” Devlin said. “We decided that Facebook groups, especially mommy bloggers, were a great connection point for the company to bring in more local families. We saw a need for local recognition, especially amongst businesses and families.”
Specifically, Devlin and his group of fellow marketers created and developed an example Instagram feed to engage with a wider audience.
“We (also) showed them examples of fliers and billboards that would better show off their brand to the community,” Devlin said. “We dove into the idea of further developing their VIP Club and discussed how to continue engagement with that program. We gave examples of mommy bloggers who would be helpful to connect with, as well as organizations that would be great to bring in for team-building exercises. We also discussed the importance of LinkedIn to develop relationships with local businesses. We presented an analysis of their competition and their own business model in order to better understand their target market.”
While taking this hands-on course, Devlin said he realized the value on both sides of the relationship.
“There is a benefit for us as students to get some real-world applications and how to work with a real-life client,” he said. “This is helpful to us as students in how to handle client meetings and how to partner with them in order to develop a strategy that will move them forward. This then gives the company free insight into their own company and what they can do to move forward with their own marketing efforts. This also develops opportunities for us as students to build our resumes and to connect with local businesses.”