Graduate business students at Black Hills State University-Rapid City (BHSU-RC) recently presented extensive market research and strategic marketing plans for local organizations, including the Rapid City Police Department, Dunn Bros Coffee, and South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Division of Wildlife.
This community-based project allowed BHSU-RC MBA students to use their education as a resource for Black Hills businesses.
As part of the Marketing Management course at BHSU-RC, three student teams partnered with local organizations over the last semester. Teams met with company representatives to discuss issues the organization was facing. Then, the students conducted investigative market research. Armed with their research results and an understanding of their company’s resources, the students developed a strategic marketing plan. The teams recently completed their semester-long projects by presenting to representatives from the organizations, as well as a board of community business professionals.
“Students have this real-life experience to enrich and apply classroom knowledge,” says Dr. Wei Song, professor of marketing, who teaches the course at BHSU-RC. “It also provides opportunities for students to offer valuable services to the community and make an impact on society.”
“The MBA program at BHSU is not just a standard MBA—it’s a master’s in business administration and applied management
—this means all our coursework is hands-on. This marketing project was a perfect example of that,” says Leonne Seevers, MBA student from Cleveland, Ohio. “We went to local businesses, researched the market and their resources, and created an actual marketing campaign.”
Lieutenant Cathy Bock with the Rapid City Police Department, worked closely with the team of MBA students to develop a plan to increase female recruit applicants.
“It’s nice to have an outside source. We don’t have a lot of resources for recruiting, because we put most of our resources in law enforcement purposes,” says Bock. “I was very impressed with their presentation. They were comprehensive and thorough in their study. Some of their suggestions—such as using hashtags to increase social media presence—were very helpful, simple, free things we could implement tomorrow.”
Chad Tussing, director of The Outdoor Campus-West, also took advantage of the BHSU MBA program’s project, challenging a team of students to create a plan to increase attendance to the free events and classes offered at the facility.
“One thing that was great to see was some of their ideas and recommendations were things we’d talked about internally at the department,” Tussing shared. “Their presentation gives me some additional research and support to bring to my bosses to show the rationale and research behind the changes we want to make.”
Diane O’Connor, the owner and manager of Dunn Brother’s Coffee in Rapid City, said the student team did a great job of approaching the company objectively, and bringing fresh insights to their marketing strategy: “It was fun to see all the little pieces I’ve been hearing about over the last couple months come together!”
Seevers said her team worked closely with representatives from the Rapid City Police Department, and that she appreciated the opportunity to invest time and energy in the Rapid City community.
Seevers, who graduates in May, says the MBA program has helped her excel in her own job as an operations team manager at Synchrony Financial in Rapid City: “I am now being asked to lead projects and programs at work. How to write a strategic plan, how to innovate, how to make more opportunities, more products, more services for your customers—this program has taught me so much about that.”
“My capstone project has been invaluable to my business, because it’s saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Seevers explains. “My employers have already told me, ‘When you graduate, this project is not over! It’s ongoing.’” Steevers says this kind of professional development has been invaluable to her career.
Michelle Kane, director of the S.D. Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO), was instrumental in much of the project’s success. The panel of reviewers included community business leaders: Dr. Don Looney, MBA director and professor of management at BHSU-RC; Dr. Bobbi Looney, professor of business communication at BHSU; Jennifer Frank, lawyer at Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebron, P.C.; Erin Smith, development coordinator at Regional Health Foundation; Breanne Canaday, project coordinator at Midwest Marketing; and Sara Lynn Pesek, governmental affairs manager for GenPro Energy Solutions.
About BHSU-Rapid City
With full-degree programs, including elementary education, business administration, human services, graphic communication, history, and social sciences at BHSU-RC, Rapid City residents have access to a comprehensive education, without the need to go online or pull up roots.
BHSU offers a master’s degree in business administration and applied management (MBA) and several bachelor’s degrees that can be completed at BHSU-Rapid City. The bachelor’s degrees include: business administration, corporate communications, elementary education, general studies, history, history education, human services, mass communication, political science, psychology, social science teaching, and sociology. In addition, BHSU-RC offers several associate degrees and certificates that can be completed without leaving Rapid City.
BHSU-RC is located at 4300 Cheyenne Blvd. on the east side of Rapid City with easy access from I-90. The University is committed to serving veterans, has a large network of alumni living in the region, and has a business program in the top five percent of business schools worldwide. In spring 2018, BHSU-RC debuted a new block schedule providing students a flexible way to take classes.
Learn more at www.BHSU.edu/RC