At Northern Arizona University, two classes are offered that help businesses with very effective marketing plans for free and help students take what they have learned from their marketing classes to apply in real business situations.
“There are two NAU classes that I teach. One is strategic marketing [and] the other is marketing research. Both lend themselves to projects working with business,” said Len Hostetter, assistant professor of practice in marketing at the NAU W.A. Franke College of Business.
Hostetter says marketing research is critical to any business strategy. Without it, he says, it is like throwing money into a black hole.
There is no cost involved for the business other than a time investment. For the students, it is hands-on experience to take with them in real life.
This past semester, the businesses chosen were Happy Mountain
Farms, Chamber Music of Sedona and Wil’s Grill.
Because of the efforts of the marketing students, the owners of these businesses can decide which direction to take their businesses, where to dive deeper, where to pull back or take off in an entirely new direction and still continue to be relevant in the marketplace.
Since the studies were completed just before the holidays, the businesses are just now starting to pore through the results.
“The class gave me a crazy amount of information that I am still absorbing to this day [and have been] since I got it the last week of December,” said John Christ, owner of Wil’s Grill.
Allison Welty, a student who worked on the Wil’s Grill project, said she learned a lot during the semester.
“We took the concept that we had learned in the book and applied that to the market research questions in order to achieve our objective,” she said. “Our group created the questions, sent out the survey, got the survey information back, looked at the results and provided statically analysis. We created the results and provided John with recommendations.”
She said the experience helps her and other students take part in a real world situation, take a step back and look at it from a different angle.
And, of course, it looks good on her résumé.
Welty, a senior who is interested in commercial real estate, has already applied what she has learned to a real life financial project in which she was involved.
In the case of Chamber Music Sedona, the information needed was how to engage more people in chamber music.
A survey determined that the chamber music group should perform in an area where there were a large number of visitors, they should try to attract a younger audience and to perhaps try to reach people before a visit and encourage them to make a performance part of the trip.
From their survey, Happy Mountain Farms, which grows farm-to-table organic produce, learned from restaurant owners and chefs what they are looking for and where they currently get their produce and how much they need.
A similar survey was sent on behalf of Wil’s Grill.
“I went to the class, told them where we were and where I was hoping to head,” said owner John Christ. “They helped me identify potential catering customers, pinpoint price points, type of food and where the market is itself.”
For the surveys, the students used focus groups, email, a service called SurveyMonkey and a number of other ways to engage a target audience.
“I am teaching these classes again this semester,” Hostetter said. Currently, “there are four more [businesses] lined up.”
For more information, contact Hostetter at 928-523-1156. FBN
By Patty McCormac