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Marketing Practicum: The College as Client
Marketing Communication Department 54-1750
Tuesday 1:30-5:20 - Instructor: Alton Miller

Course Number: 54-1750
Prerequisite: Chair approval

This experimental course will engage select students in a real-world marketing communication effort, with the college as client. As a capstone course, it will use advertising, marketing, and public relations techniques to identify and address challenges posed by the marketing needs of Columbia College Chicago, or individual departments or activities of the college. A specific professionally-oriented class assignment will be made at the beginning of each term; that is, a client will be identified each semester.

Each student will work to accomplish two outcomes. First, as a member of an agency team, each student will participate in the marketing communication process, resulting in the preparation and presentation of a marketing plan for approval by the client. Second, each student will be individually responsible for a major paper, in the form of a creative marketing plan, outlining fully-detailed specific recommendations for the client's future development.

In their team mode, students will work on two tracks: a process-guided academic track designed to simulate real-world deadlines and difficulties, culminating in the marketing plan at the end of the term; and a hands-on "guerrilla marketing" track, testing students' growing skills and entrepreneurial creativity in identifying and addressing immediate marketing problems from week to week. In the following syllabus, this track has been highlighted in red

In their individual mode, students will develop their individual papers as they progress through the course; the individual work will feed into and inform each student's contribution as a member of the team.

Students will be graded 1/2 on their participation in the team efforts, and 1/2 on their individual paper. Attendance is very important, and it should be clear that the work of this course will involve teamwork outside of class, as well as individual homework as described in this syllabus.

There is no text for this course but readings may be assigned, and it may be necessary to schedule quizzes on the readings.

Class 1 - Introduction

The team will discuss class objectives, and be introduced to The Client. They will hear details about how the course will work, discuss individual roles within the agency context, and agree on a division of labor. They will review samples from other professional marketing campaigns.

Guerrilla Marketing: Brainstorm on observations of the current registration process at Columbia College. How are "customers" attracted to Columbia? How are they attracted to the Marketing Communication Department? What could be done differently in the interests of The Client? What can still be done this week?

Also: begin a team clipbook of PR and advertising items in the local media relating to higher education in Chicago. Individual students will receive cumulative credit for their contributions to this clipbook, which will continue to develop over the course of the term.

Class 2 - Situation Analysis

The team will consider: who are The Client's current consumers -- in terms of both demographics and psychographics? who are current consumers of the competition? who is the competition? what are the seasonal cycles? what other timing factors are influencing purchase cycles?

Guerrilla Marketing: compare notes on other colleges or outside activities that might be considered competitive with your Columbia College client. Think creatively: Instead of prioritizing the most signficant challenges, identify the most immediately useful things that can be done in the coming weeks to improve The Client's image? Of those, which is the single most useful thing that can be done this week?

Class 3 - Research I - Methodology, Objectives and Strategies

The team will review primary and secondary research methods, develop initial information and hypotheses, and determine research objectives. Questionnaires will be developed, and assignments will be made for a schedule of primary research efforts (interviews, etc.) and secondary research work (analysis of available data). In a separate but equally important research effort, the team will do media research to determine which channels of communication will be most cost-effective.

Guerrilla Marketing: How do current students regard the Marketing Communication department? both those within the department and those outside. Collect anecdotal information for possible insights into current problems and opportunities. Do the informal findings suggest any remedial or promotional activity we should be doing right now?

Class 4 - Research II - Analysis and Summary; Problems/Opportunities

The team will review results of research and develop a summary of findings. Using research results, they will produce a formal S.W.O.T. analysis -- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats -- as material to assist in positioning.

Guerrilla Marketing: begin an informal communications audit of The Client's current advertising, public relations & marketing work. What are the most effective efforts? Of those, which is the single most significant? What are the weak points? Of those, which is worst? What two or three things not currently being done should be done right now? Are there informational materials we should produce on the photocopier and distribute or post right now?

Class 5 - Marketing Objectives

The team will address the question: How can our product/service be branded? How can positioning identify for us a unique market niche? What are the specific, measurable objectives for which our marketing plan will be developed. The team will develop a marketing flow chart for the work that will unfold over the next ten weeks.

Guerrilla Marketing: What are our competitors doing? how do their current advertising, public relations & marketing efforts compare to ours? any ideas we could profitably poach? Is there anything we're omitting that we should pay attention to right now?

Class 6 - The Creative Platform

The team will develop a creative platform or copy platform based on the work accomplished to date. This creative brief will succinctly establish the reason why our consumers should prefer our "brand" to any competitor's offering. As a comprehensive guide for the rest of the team's work, it will include supportive rationales, and considerations of philosophy, tone, legal and institutional mandatories, etc. From this point forward, each individual student should be deeply involved in the development of the major paper that will outline individual recommendations for a creative plan (see above) -- this work will also be important by the time that the class reaches the 9th week.

Guerrilla Marketing: What are the current institutional resources at Columbia College? Diagram the information flow from all relevant departments, including Admissions and the College's own PR operation. What are the publications of the college, and where are the distributed? What is the policy concerning printed material, posting notices, advertising, the use of the CC logo, programming on in-college video displays, and other coordinative efforts. Where are materials posted for students on campus? are materials posted off-campus where Columbia College students or other students are likely to see them? In all cases, are there deadlines we should be aware of?

Class 7 - Budgeting & Media Plan

The team will confront the realities of budgeting for a marketing plan, including the research and preparation necessary for a media plan. Using results of their research, and preliminary estimates based on the marketing objectives and creative planning, they will budget on the basis of competitive parity as well as the all-you-can-afford method (i.e., based on currently available departmental funds).

Guerrilla Marketing: What do teachers and staff think of the academic discipline of marketing communication? What do they think of Columbia's Marketing Communication Department? Specifically, learn from discussion with those in the departments of Journalism, Management, and Art & Design. Discern not simply information, but attitudes as well. Is there a general understanding of what marketing communication is? What remedial action should we take right now?

Class 8 - Public Relations

Current marketing practice directs that public relations should precede and guide advertising -- an industry practice that has only slowly come to the teaching of marketing. Before developing the creative plan into an advertising campaign, the team will outline its public relations plan, including a press kit, press releases, PSAs, video news release scripts, and related materials. (It should be noted that no public relations outreach will actually take place without coordination with the college public relations office.)

Guerrilla Marketing: How does the Columbia Chronicle collect stories? Who are the editors and reporters with whom we should be working? What other college publications are regularly read by our target market? What can we do in the short term to take advantage of PR opportunities? what are the deadlines and how should we prepare for the spring registration period?

Class 9 - Advertising I

Regardless of individal roles, this week the team will work as a group of creatives to weave together all the elements necessary for an advertising campaign. The advertising campaign plan should be split into levels of affordability, proceeding on the basis of both types of budgeting outlined above. The team is responsible for all copywriting and rough layouts, and it is anticipated that Art & Design students, and perhaps Photography and Film & Video students will be enlisted in directed studies programs to work with the team in advertising production.

Guerrilla Marketing: Consider the physical environment of the Marketing Communication Department; of the building at 624 S. Michigan; of the campus facilities in that block; of the city environs in the Columbia College neighborhood. What are the strengths and shortcomings? what can we recommend for eventual improvement? what can we suggest for immediate attention? what can we fix ourselves, this week?

Class 10 - Advertising II

This week's work is a continuation of the work begun in Class 9.

Guerrilla Marketing: Look at the graphics in use in the Marketing Communication department; where are they most evident -- signs? stationery? departmental notices? bulletin boards? how important is design? are there ways of improving our "corporate image" by changing them or making them more uniform? what kinds of type or design elements should be employed? how does our department compare to other departments at Columbia College? at other schools? what can we do right now to effect improvements?

Class 11 - Promotion

This week's work is a continuation of the work begun in Class 9, also, except that now the team turns its emphasis to other means of advancing its marketing plan -- through promotional efforts. From go-cards to billboards, from special events to promotional tie-ins, the full range of promotional possibilities should be considered within the context of the marketing plan.

Guerrilla Marketing: Apart from the context of the marketing plan, brainstorm on promotional ideas that can be launched right now, for the spring 2000 registration period. Come up with five dynamite ideas. Prioritize them and create simple action plans for putting them into motion.

Class 12 - Presentation Techniques

The team will focus on the techniques of making a client presentation, including demonstrations of the latest technologies. Assignments will be made to develop the client presentation of the work accomplished to date.

Guerrilla Marketing: Based on the lessons learned to date, and on your own entrepreneurial creativity, draft a flier to be used during the spring 2000 registration period.

Class 13 - Evaluation

The team will study evaluation measures, not for the purpose of making an evaluation themselves, but rather in order to be able to include an evaluation section of the marketing plan to be presented to The Client. Setting acceptable objectives (Class 5) will facilitate measurement of those objectives at the end of the day.

Guerrilla Marketing: What do you think would be a good news story to communicate the message developed in your creative brief? Write both a press release and a pitch letter to a local paper (not the Chronicle -- the Tribune, Sun-Times, etc.) detailing your idea. This should be an individual activity -- each student should create a unique press release and pitch letter. They will be sent not to the media but to the Columbia College public relations office.

Class 14 - Presentation

The team will rehearse their presentation to The Client, to be followed by a detailed critique.

Guerrilla Marketing: Make a list of everything the Marketing Communication Department should do to take full advantage of what we've learned over this term, in preparation for registration for spring 2000. Include everything, trifling or critically significant, that the team can come up with.

Class 15 - Presentation

The team will make the final presentation upon which they will be given their final grade. Individual papers (the creative marketing plan) will also be due this day.

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