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Moving Beyond Memorization

Monday, November 17 2014 01:00pm

Marketing class takes students from the classroom to the boardroom to develop a deeper understanding of marketing.

Mindless memorization and regurgitating facts; that’s what many people conjure when thinking about their classroom experience. Not so for the students in Ohio University’s College of Business. 

“We want our students to put the theory into practice, just like they would for law or medicine,” said Raj Agnihotri, professor of marketing and chair of the marketing department at Ohio University. “Marketing is a dynamic field and it’s important that our students have an understanding of how to apply the best practices in a real-world situation, so they can be successful upon graduation.”

Students in the Business-to-Business Market Management class are going from the classroom to the boardroom to develop a deeper understanding of marketing in a business-to-business context.

“We’ve chosen a manufacturing company as the client for this class,” said Dan Dahlen, an instructor in the marketing department and director of the new Consumer Research Center at Ohio University. “We’re taking the textbook and lecture learning and applying it to Palmer-Donavin Manufacturing Company and their real market situation.”

The class has been segmented into four teams that will develop a marketing plan for 2015.  At the beginning of the semester, Ron Calhoun, the company’s CEO and a member of the College’s Executive Advisory Board, presented to students about the company, market, and customers.  Over time, other executives came to Athens to give more information and answer questions.

“It’s really cool to have a live client for our Business-to-Business Marketing class. I have worked with live clients in classes before, but I think this is the first time I’ve had direct access to the company’s executive team,” said Amanda Breedlove, a senior majoring in journalism taking the class.  “The connections Professor Dahlen has in the industry are amazing, and for him to share those with us, his students, means the world.”

Members of the executive team have high expectations for the project outcome.  

“This project has been fantastic from Palmer-Donavin’s perspective.  The students have been engaged and asking very thorough, thought-provoking questions,” Matt Butzier, the vice president and general manager for Palmer-Donavin.  “Their inquiries are helping me view our business from different perspectives and I expect we’ll learn as much from the students, if not more than they learn from us, while going through this process.”

As part of the analysis, students went to the company headquarters in Columbus for a facility tour.

Breedlove describes the trip this way, “The trip to Palmer-Donovan’s headquarters is I think what really got the ball rolling for all of the teams. We all had a fair idea of what Palmer-Donavin did and what our deliverable was supposed to look like, but being there, experiencing their company culture and really seeing everything in action I think helped everyone get some more concrete ideas about what they wanted their final project to look like.”

Students will present to faculty and the executive team from Palmer-Donavin the last week of the fall semester.

“[This] is a great way for us to learn about real B2B marketing strategies and focus on real problems clients have, said Taylor Van Neste, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship. “I am really glad I had the opportunity to work with a live client like Palmer-Donavin, because we were able to figure out solutions to real problems.”

“Taking our classroom discussion and applying it to a real project, for a real company that has real consequence is how we are getting students ready for the real world,” Dahlen said. “This is the same kind of process I would’ve gone through during my 35-plus years in the advertising world. I believe that the discovery and analysis that students apply to their marketing recommendations will be a best practice process they follow through their career.”