Debbi Brock, assistant professor of entrepreneurship & business, started her career at the Falls School of Business at Anderson University in the fall of 2009. During her first semester, Brock taught a class called Principles of Marketing: A Theatre of Metamorphosis in a new refreshing way. Upon completing her undergraduate work, she worked for the Collegiate Association for Social Entrepreneurship. This is where she found her passion for helping young people start businesses.
“This marketing course seeks to introduce students to the field of marketing and the needs, wants and motivations of consumers and why they make purchasing decisions,” Brock said. “The course investigates marketing from different perspectives, the sole entrepreneur, small and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits and corporations. Students learn about the marketing mix and how marketing is one of the core elements of business operating in an ever changing global environment.”
Brock was a new professor at AU trying to find a way to interest the students in her class. She feels when you teach a principles class, students are just going through the motions. She wanted to develop a way for the students to develop the same passion she has for marketing.
“The way to do that is through doing projects with small businesses. We picked up small businesses and entrepreneurial nonprofits. The students worked in teams and wrote marketing plans for those organizations,” said Brock. “It just ratcheted up the class so much because before it’s about a grade for yourself and you can blow that off, but when you’re talking about a client and it’s a nonprofit or a for profit and you fall in love with the person you’re working with, you really want to help them be successful. It brings the textbook to life and it makes it real world.”
Brock chose a few community partners for the students to work with, such as Mobile Seamstress, Alternatives, United Faith Housing Corporation (UFHC), Park Place Children’s Center and Anderson Business Incubator.
“We were able to practice implementing the topics being talked about in class with a real business, as well as work at developing our networking skills,” said Bradley Miller, a senior majoring in management and minoring in marketing this past academic year. “I was able to get a job with the business I was working with for this project, Anderson Business Incubator.”
United Faith Housing Corporation closed down one of their retirement home facilities and needed to shed light on the situation in a positive way to the community. Four students developed marketing materials and a marketing plan to help make this a smooth transition.
“I gained many skills and knowledge from this class but most importantly a better understanding about marketing,” said Latoya Francis, who took Brock’s class in the fall. “It involves a wide variety of different variables and underestimating any of these variables can be detrimental to the business.”
Four other students worked with Park Place Children's Center. They needed help with their budget and getting the message out to potential parents in need of day care. “The students delivered a fabulous marketing plan for the organization, and they learned some lessons about how they were allocating money and what would be a better allocation of some of their marketing dollars,” said Brock.
“It’s things you can talk about in a classroom, but you bring it to life through real businesses,” said Brock. Students working for Park Place Children’s Center discovered through doing a survey with all parents that they allocated too much money for radio ads and parents were hearing about the children center through word of mouth or signage, so they reallocated their budget due to the marketing team's research.
“I learned that creating value for the customer is very important. Also, surveys are crucial in order to find out how to best create value for customers,” said Katie Boes, a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in entrepreneurship and Bible.
“In the end, what makes it such a positive experience is that the students go into the class thinking ‘I get a grade’ and they come out of it going ‘I helped an entrepreneur,’ ‘I helped a nonprofit,’ and ‘I really added value to the organization and that was meaningful to me,’” said Brock.
- Lydia Smith is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in peace and conflict transformation. Smith is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.