No stranger to the benefits of an immersive curriculum, Professor of Marketing Charles Wood recently assigned three sections of students – two sections of Principles of Marketing (PoM) and one section of Consumer Behavior (CB) – to work with eight local startup clients as part of their Collins College of Business coursework requirements.
This marked the first collaboration between Wood, 36 Degrees North, and the ACT House, providing students the opportunity to engage directly with local entrepreneurs. “The eight founders at 36°N and ACT House were a great pleasure to work with,” he said.
The courses involved students selecting a startup, followed by team assignments consisting of three to five students per client. Wood’s assignment fostered a high level of collaboration and adaptability that left an impact on more than 100 students and the new businesses they assisted.
The first interaction between the PoM classes and their founders took place virtually, allowing students to establish a connection and familiarize themselves with their clients. The students then met with Lisa Grimes and Jessica Conley of TU’s McFarlin Library, who demonstrated how to hone their research skills in order to gain comprehensive insights into their clients’ industries. In a second virtual meeting with their clients, students reported their research and received feedback on their progress from the founders.
Each PoM group developed a final report for their client that encompassed industry research, interview transcripts, a list of current or potential customers, and recommendations for marketing and branding strategies. “These reports were produced after midterm and were given to my section of CB students and to the students in the Third Floor Design class (in TU’s Kendall College of Arts & Sciences) led by Brock Wynn,” said Wood.
Once the assignment moved to CB students, they selected two startups. Forming teams of two to three students, they utilized the research conducted by the PoM students and developed promotional ideas. After reviewing PoM reports, CB students met with their clients virtually to ask questions, learn about previous promotional efforts, and identify their clients’ needs, such as developing a stronger social media presence. Like the PoM group, the CB students coordinated with Third Floor Design and produced a final report and presentation of their promotional ideas and graphic designs including color palettes, logos, and social media templates.
Wood acknowledged the immense value of combining local businesses with the supportive framework of the university, stating that it “allowed these students to get a good taste of how the course material applies to actual business strategies and how to run meetings in a professional context.
“I knew this project would be challenging, but the students really rose to the occasion.”
Reflecting on the assignment, TU softball player Imani Edwards remarked that she learned how to work better with others. “I’m typically someone who prefers to work independently,” she said, “but in this group project I had to learn to get external, communicate with others, and work together.” Edwards, a business management senior from Tomball, Texas, said the experience will benefit her in the workplace, on the softball field, in relationships, and more.
Marketing senior Alex Fernandez of Bixby, Oklahoma, reported that the project gave him the unique chance to think like a consumer and understand how to garner interest in a product or service. Fernandez worked with the artificial intelligence marketing company Creativo.
“I built the branding around Creativo’s mascot, the Genie,” he said. “I came up with the slogan, ‘Market with the magic of AI,’ which acknowledges Creativo’s objectives and utilizes a fun nod to the magical power of the Genie.”
Using the skills from class, Fernandez defined the target audience and determined which platforms would have the most effective reach. “This hands-on project was both a challenge and a blast since I knew a real company was counting on my work,” he said. “This wasn’t just a class for me, it was an exciting journey into the world of marketing.”
Several other students reported sharpening their networking, communication, in-depth research, report-building, and advanced marketing skills, all of which bolstered their confidence and prospects of securing promising job interviews upon graduation.
Through the years, students in Wood’s classes have worked with more than 100 local companies and nonprofit organizations in a variety of ways, like running Google Ads campaigns, doing market research, and offering branding and promotional strategies, to name a few.
“I’ve found that most students really want this approach because they recognize that these experiences can be added to their resumes, help prepare them for their careers and are a great talking point for job interviews,” said Wood. “Projects like this give students a good idea of the areas they are strong in and the areas that need work.”
Wood’s approach fosters a growth mindset, encouraging students to embrace new challenges and overcome them. Through these experiences, students have thrived and developed a strong understanding of real-world business practices. “When a student successfully takes on a new challenge, they get stronger. It is wonderful to see,” he stated.
Interested in exploring your business acumen through marketing or management, check out TU’s degree options at https://business.utulsa.edu/management-marketing/.