On Martin Luther King Jr. Day the JMU College of Business (CoB) participated in its second MLK Day of Service inclusive of many CoB students, organizations, and faculty members. Students in my MKTG 477 class celebrated their MLK Jr. Day by making a difference for a local non-profit, the Explore More Discovery Museum (EMDM). This service project was a continuation of the students’ task from the GOMC Class of 2016 when they generated creative and effective marketing ideas for birthday parties held at the museum. This year’s students focused on ideas for increasing party and membership sign-ups as well as branding the museum. EMDM’s birthday events are designed to alleviate parent’s stress while providing a stimulating experience for the children. The MKTG 477 class excelled in a fast paced environment with new group structures. I asked three of my students to write a guest blog post about their experience. Here is what Michelle Mullins, Amanda Zwerin, and Brendan Reece had to say…
The 2017 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) class was introduced to the MLK Jr. Day of Service during our first class in December. After group discussions during our first meeting, we decided that our skills would be best put to use by continuing the efforts of the GOMC 2016 class, especially since Dr. Clarke encouraged us to use our strengths to give back to the community.
“MLK worked tirelessly to make my life better so I love giving back in his memory” –Raquel Sheriff, Blue Team
Last year’s students developed new ideas to promote birthday parties held at the museum. They successfully supplied The Explore More Discovery Museum (EMDM) in Downtown Harrisonburg with marketing plan ideas to increase birthday parties sales. The 2017 GOMC students were excited to pick up where the talented students before them had left off and brainstorm more ideas to help spread awareness of EMDM’s birthday events and increase memberships.
Students were given an opportunity to branch out from their GOMC groups and conceptualize innovative ideas with new teammates, each of which had a different team color assigned to them.
“It was really great getting to know and work with other students in the class that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to interact with.” –Riley Jamison, Red Team.
Dr. Clarke’s students are given one of four roles for her course: Team Captains, Account Managers, Strategists, and Analysts. Today, she had the “Strategists” step up to lead the teams for the day. All other class members were randomly divided into cross-functional groups to work together on our class goal: converting birthday party participants into members at EMDM, as well as further branding the museum. The 2017 GOMC students made it their mission to discover ways to make EMDM birthday parties more attractive to parents and children and spread the word about the great opportunities EMDM has to offer. This project required each team to utilize their creative talents under strict time constraints.
“Thinking of ideas that are easy to implement and realistic to achieve was challenging but rewarding.” Devin Hogue, Yellow Team
The Explore More Discovery Museum has basic party options and additional themes that can be added depending on the child’s interests. Other add-ons include Explore More souvenir cups, ice cream cups and more! The participating students wanted to emphasize that the hard-working staff at EMDM makes birthday parties easy and enjoyable for both parents and children. Continuing branding for the museum is important for museum foot traffic and potential membership opportunities for visitors.
“I really liked being able to utilize the marketing skills that we’ve learned in our classes to help out a local non-profit organization.” –David Bruce, Red Team
As a result of the GOMC MLK Day of Service, several great ideas emerged related to new party themes, coupons/discounts for parents, and small scientific projects to complete at home. Expanding informational materials throughout the facility can be helpful for showing parents and children what other opportunities EMDM offers. Our birthday party enhancement and branding recommendations are low cost and exciting for participants. One common idea that all students supported was a loyalty program to incentivize families returning after attending a birthday party.
“It was cool to see like-minded marketing students come together with similar ideas and build off each other.” Nicole Carothers, Yellow Team
Participating in service directly related to our skills created a unique experience for the GOMC students. Marketing is not only our area of study but has also become a way for us to give back to the local community. Collaborating with our classmates allowed us to develop great ideas for the EMDM. Students were able to collectively dedicate 50 hours with a clear purpose and goal in mind. It was an exciting and unique service experience that all students had fun participating in. We look forward to seeing this project continue with future GOMC classes!