Texas Woman’s University students are gaining experience with real clients as part of a small business management class that recently worked with the Denton Chamber of Commerce to create a marketing plan.
“The purpose of the class is to give students real life experience,” said Pushkala Raman, an associate professor of marketing in the school of management at TWU who leads the class.
The concept is right in line with the university’s quality enhancement plan, “Pioneering Pathways: Learn by Doing,” which focuses on experiential learning. The plan is being created and implemented as part of TWU’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
And the students learned a lot from the experience.
“There is a lot more to business than is on the surface,” said TWU student Michael Collins, adding that a lot of it is in how a person presents himself.
Bobbie Simon, another student, said it was her first time to make a presentation, which has helped her as she is now earning her master’s in business administration.
In the past, Raman’s class has worked with other local businesses, such as Bookkeeper Girl, and regional businesses and organizations, such as the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.
“We are always looking for projects to help small businesses,” Raman said.
She calls it a win-win because the students gain the experience and the businesses receive help.
Sharon Venable, director of corporate and community relations and institutional development at TWU, approached Raman about working with the chamber. Venable is on the chamber’s board of directors.
The students were asked to help the chamber create a five-year marketing plan.
Before creating a plan, the students talked with current and former chamber members as well as business owners that are not members.
What the students found was that people weren’t aware of all that the chamber offers, including Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Small Business Development Center, which is a partnership with North Central Texas College.
The students suggested having an overall brand for the chamber that would be represented by its other entities, whether it’s on their websites or in a pamphlet.
The students also suggested the chamber use social media to promote itself.
Chuck Fremaux, the former chair of the chamber board of directors, worked with the students, but this was his third time to work with the class. In the past, TWU students helped him do a market analysis on a restaurant he owned previously and a wedding venue in Sanger he was looking into.
Fremaux said the students did a phenomenal job on both of those projects.
“They are looking for projects to interact with the community,” he said. “It’s a good training tool for them.”
And it offers a fresh approach for businesses, Fremaux said.
He said the suggestions the students made were in line with where the chamber is headed.
“We’ve done a poor job of telling our story,” Fremaux said, adding that the chamber has taken for granted that everyone knows all that it offers.
As far as social media, he said that suggestion seems like a cheap option, but there is manpower necessary to do it well.
It is something the chamber has considered, but it hasn’t been a focus, Fremaux said.
“They stressed we need to change our mindset and get more focused on the social media,” he said.
The students were trying to help show the chamber where it needs to focus, Fremaux said.
“I’m really impressed with the way they handle it,” he said of his recent experience.
Fremaux said the students are professional and mature in approaching the project.
If the chamber was buying the service, he said he doesn’t think it would get better service.
“They make a point of working with local business,” Fremaux said.
For more information about partnering with the class, call the TWU School of Management at 940-898-2957 or e-mail Raman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about partnering with the class, call the TWU School of Management at 940-898-2957 or e-mail Pushkala Raman, associate professor of marketing, at email@example.com.