Michael Mayers, Adjunct Marketing Professor, introduces juniors and seniors to “real world” problems of business in his Marketing 334 course, Promotion Strategy, or "integrated marketing communications" as he refers to it. He assigns his students a term project with a local business in Evansville, which this semester is with The Romain Automotive Group. The students are divided into teams with the overall objective of recommending ways Romain can strengthen its advertising and website communications. As part of this process, a survey is conducted among adults in the Evansville DMA, to assess their ad awareness and perceptions of Romain's and its competitors' advertising.
Based on their analysis of this research and their evaluation of relevant websites, each student team then writes a comprehensive report and prepares an oral presentation for the marketing staff. Students meet with the company’s marketing director and present their ideas firsthand. Mr. Mayers states that a fresh set of eyes (the student) brings creative, out of the box thinking, which along with keen analytic and strategic insights help breed superior marketing.
This service learning course benefits local businesses working with the class. In a previous semester, USI students recommended that the tv advertising format be changed to use real customer testimonials. They believed that prospective customers could relate more to peers than professional actors. This change has helped contribute to a significant increase in Romain's business.
Mr. Mayers explains that using service learning throughout his course keeps him grounded in practical business situations. Students learn how to solve business problems through experience. Reading a textbook is only one method. Physically communicating and interacting with a company is far more enlightening for everyone. His teaching method incorporating service learning allows information to turn into action. He notes his students learn faster and at a higher quality.