What if your company could hire a talented group of students with a passion for marketing, supervised by professional staff and faculty, to help you develop and execute your marketing strategy at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire a professional marketing firm? It sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
That is exactly the purpose of BroncoConnect—to connect students with companies needing marketing assistance. Lisa Garcia, director of the WMU Business Connection Office, which houses BroncoConnect, and Dr. JoAnn Atkin, associate professor of marketing, spearhead the operation, making that critical connection that benefits both students and organizations.
“The goal of BroncoConnect is threefold,” says Garcia. “We want to provide students with highly relevant marketing internship experiences, provide clients with high quality and low-cost implementable marketing solutions and strengthen WMU’s community relations in the process.”
Whether they’re helping to revamp a website or create a comprehensive marketing plan, students work with Garcia and Atkin to develop, write and implement marketing plans for organizations. In a recent project, student consultants were connected with Junkless, a non-GMO snack company. The student group was able to develop marketing skills while helping Junkless formulate and execute a social media plan.
“When we started working with Junkless, we focused on researching the target market and the company’s competitors,” says Jenny Hammis, electronic business marketing student and digital analyst on the team. “Soon after, we were given permission to take over their social media platforms where we are able to post content and run ads we create. As we continue working with Junkless, we will be developing a social media style guide that will allow anyone at the company to follow our strategy going forward.”
Companies that collaborate with BroncoConnect receive services and assistance, while students are able to practice what they are learning in their courses and see how outcomes affect a company in real time. Garcia and Atkin work hard to recruit the right students who are studying marketing, public relations, e-business and graphic design to bring a well-rounded team to each project. Each project requires a different mix of student talent, and the students benefit from getting to work with others outside of their major.
“Students are able to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in class to a real-time marketing challenge,” says Atkin. “They get to work in a cross-functional team setting that gives them the opportunity to see the difference between what is theoretically possible versus what is actually probable or implementable, given different client situations.”
The clients realize just as many benefits as the students.
"BroncoConnect provides a very efficient marketing service alternative for smaller or startup companies," says Ernie Pang, founder of Junkless. "With BroncoConnect, they not only offer pragmatic, strategic consultancy but also the option of marketing program execution. Given the wealth of business student talent at Haworth, they can very quickly staff projects with highly creative and energetic students seeking real-life business experience. It's a win-win! As for our line of Junkless snacks, the students managed our social media program very effectively at a fraction of the cost of a full service agency. We have been very pleased."
Junkless is just one example of the power of great connections. BroncoConnect clients have included:
Urban Alliance, Fostering Success in Michigan, WMU Center for Integrated Supply Management, ChemLink, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, WMU Blue Line Club, WMUK, Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society, Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, WMU Office of Development