Pictured from left to right, Joey Painter, a business administration marketing major from Buffalo; Kelsey DeMers, a business administration tourism and hospitality management major from Winner; and Brandi Holmes, a business administration marketing major from Cody, Wyo., present their retail marketing plan for Pink 692, a downtown Spearfish store owned by Carol Tellinghuisen.

Black Hills State University marketing students recently received first-hand experience in putting their classroom theory learning to the test. Three of Dr.Wei Song’s marketing classes partnered with local businesses helping them develop marketing plans and strategies.

The BHSU associate professor of marketing said the project was a great experiential learning opportunity giving students the chance to be engaged in learning while blending theory and coursework with practical, applied experience.

“This is a kind of collaboration we hope to continue in the future,” Song said. “We truly have great local businesses here who use their expertise to help our students gain some first-hand experience.” Song also expressed her thanks to Spearfish resident Betsy Cordes who helped connect students with the businesses.

The students presented their ideas to the businesses during class presentations and many of the owners are heeding the advice of the young entrepreneurs.

Joey Painter, a business administration marketing major from Buffalo, Kelsey DeMers, a business administration tourism and hospitality management major from Winner, and Brandi Holmes, a business administration marketing major from Cody, Wyo., partnered with Carol Tellinghuisen to come up with marketing suggestions for her Spearfish store, Pink 692. Tellinghuisen also owns the Pink Door Boutique in Deadwood, another business researched by Song’s students.

Tellinghuisen wants more traffic into her two stores. The stores carry the latest trends and fashion brands; however, many people don’t know about the shops. “I assume everyone knows but I have to get the word out.If you are not just on the market, people will walk on by.”

All three students suggested Tellinghuisen work more with BHSU to capture the loyalty of the college shopper. Possibilities suggested include advertising in the Jacket Journal,giveaways on Buzz Radio and store discounts for BHSU student ID Buzz cards.

“Word of mouth is the biggest thing with our generation,” DeMers said. “I’m going to buy what my friends are buying.”

With a lot of Tellinghuisen's merchandise featuring a western theme, Painter suggested having booths at rodeos such as the Days of ’76. They also suggested making the most of social media, especially the pinboard-style social image sharing site Pinterest.

“You gave me some great ideas,” Tellinghuisen told thes tudents. “I hope to adopt some of your suggestions. “

Tellinghuisen plans to have two BHSU marketing interns next semester who can help implement some of the suggestions.

Melissa Barth, BHSU alumna and executive director of the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce, attended all the presentations and says she was impressed with the marketing students and their suggestions.

“The students took an academic assignment and turned it into a practical opportunity for local businesses,” she said. “Each group was able to take an outside look at the businesses and give real time suggestions on how to gain additional market share. This collaboration between students and local businesses is a win-win situation for BHSU and the community ofSpearfish."

Other businesses involved in the projects include: Dakota V Twin, Nick Cramer, owner; For the Win Interactive, James Carter, Jr. and James Carter, Sr., owners; Killian’sTavern, Nick Caton, owner; Good Earth, Page Dykstra, manager, Donna Stark,store manager; Base Camp, Dillon Julius, owner and manager; Kathleen’s, Doreen Cooper, owner and manager;  and Taco Johns, Jack Benne, owner and manager.