Lending a hand to Wyoming businesses, Marketing Assistant Professor Elizabeth Minton provides hands-on experience for her students in the process.
By Micaela Myers
In the spring of 2016, the Laramie Soup Kitchen’s executive director, Ted Cramer, enlisted the help of Elizabeth Minton, assistant professor of marketing, and her class in rebranding the soup kitchen. He wanted to raise public awareness about the soup kitchen’s services and needs. The soup kitchen is one of many businesses and nonprofits with which Minton’s marketing management and advanced marketing management classes have worked during her two years at the University of Wyoming.
Practical experience: With basic classes already under their belts, Minton’s students are ready to apply their knowledge to a client’s real-world problems. “My classes are very oriented around client projects,” Minton says. “Students identify the problems the client is facing by doing surveys and conducting market research, and they then provide strategic recommendations. In some cases, depending on client needs, they actually implement their plan during the course of the semester.”
The students divide into teams and then present their plans to each client. Organizations and businesses they’ve worked with include a tourist shop in Cody, Union Wireless, the Cheyenne Family YMCA, a local painting studio and the area franchise for Express Employment Professionals.
Dual benefits: The real-world projects help the clients while preparing students for future careers.
“From the client side, a lot of them have gone back and used the programs students have made,” Minton says. “They’ve implemented brand logos or branding redesigns, they’ve redesigned the layout of their stores, they’ve used new advertising tactics, and they’ve even moved locations. A lot of them then refer new connections to me. I’ve found it very beneficial on both sides.”
While students often tell Minton her classes are some of the most challenging, she takes that as a compliment. “It’s very difficult for them because they’re stretching their bounds,” she says. “The framework that they learned in their classes doesn’t always work. They learn a lot about how to communicate with a business and how to frame their plan in a way that the business will be receptive.”
Just as in the real world, students who have done their work often get congratulated, while those less prepared will meet with frank clients who don’t mince words.
Minton plans to continue working with Wyoming businesses, providing hands-on learning for her students and creating valuable connections across the state.