Digital Marketing Students Develop Innovative Marketing Strategies for Local Businesses

May 16, 2022

When Professor of Practice in Marketing Zachary Daniels, MBA ’09 launched Assumption’s digital marketing concentration three years ago, he emphasized the primary focus of the program to be on providing experiential learning opportunities for students. A veteran in the marketing field and owner of Worcester-based digital services agency Daniels Digital, Daniels teaches each of his marketing courses in the Grenon School of Business with this same philosophy. 

A group of students in Professor Daniel's Digital Marketing class.This spring, students in Prof. Daniels’ Mobile Marketing course, collaborated with local businesses with the mission to develop and implement a 90-day marketing strategy addressing a specific need for each respective organization. Each group of four to five students serve as a mock marketing department for the business to which they were assigned, managing and maintaining relationships, identifying needs, and creating and implementing effective strategies.

This is how North Brookfield Savings Bank ended up entrusting a group of Assumption students to solve a prevalent challenge in the banking industry: attracting young adults to do business with the bank? The student group comprised of Kevin Corso ‘22, Alexander Steinman ‘22, Camryn Williams ‘22, and Joseph Letizio ’23 approached the problem by employing strategies that they learned in the digital marketing concentration program. The group conducted market research and target audience surveys to gather data that eventually led to a complete mobile marketing campaign with QR codes, text messages, and email messaging targeted at college students aged 18 to 25.

“Our collaboration with North Brookfield Savings Bank showed us how important mobile marketing campaigns are to companies like this, and how they can be used to maintain and create relationships with target customers,” said Corso ’22. “Through research on surveys, Google Analytics, and social media, we discovered new ways to reach a younger demographic and help create lifelong customers for the bank.”

“A common challenge for banks is getting young adults involved,” Prof. Daniels added. “The group approached the challenge by conducting surveys with students in their late teens and early 20’s to gather the data and information that they then used to create some innovative and effective marketing strategies to benefit the bank.”

“They hit the ball out of the park,” Thomas Henry, digital marketing manager and graphic designer at North Brookfield Savings Bank said. “The Assumption students initially spent time learning and listening about our business, our strengths and weaknesses, biggest competitors and obstacles, and five-year goals so they could tailor a marketing strategy. Our team at North Brookfield Savings Bank gained a renewed sense of energy from working with these young professionals.”

The group working with North Brookfield Savings Bank represented one of six total student groups working with businesses in the Spring semester’s section of Daniels’ Mobile Marketing course. For Pakachoag Music School of Greater Worcester and Frank & Sons Body Works, a family-owned auto repair shop based outside of the Albany, New York area, Assumption students developed a strategy to help streamline mobile appointment scheduling, reminders, and payment plans. On another front, businesses such as Brew City and Pelham Resorts turned to the expertise of Assumption students to create QR code and mobile strategies to engage audiences to opt into additional email sign ups or other amenities beyond their standard experience. Similarly for Worcester-based epoxy floor coating service Gnu Garage, Assumption students helped create and implement various web, email, and Google advertising strategies to streamline the company’s digital channel capabilities.  

Daniels has connected Assumption students with similar projects in his Digital Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and other courses since he started teaching at Assumption in 2016. 

“Collaborating with local businesses is a unique, hands-on approach that allowed me to use material I learned in the classroom and apply it to real world situations,” said Sarah Ardolino ’20. “In creating a social media marketing campaign for a local small business, I practiced implementing creative marketing strategies, managing projects to completion, and effective communication with stakeholders – all important skills I use every day in the workplace.”

Ardolino, a student of Daniels during her time as a marketing major at Assumption, now works as a marketing and communications coordinator for BigBear.ai, an artificial intelligence company known for their government and commercial decision-influencing products. She commented that the experiential learning projects she participated in helped prepare her to interview for and succeed in her marketing position. 

“The value of experiential learning is that it’s not just a case study where you’re reading about it, the true value is that you have to actually research, dissect, and work with a contact at a local company, and then produce a viable strategy that they can implement within 90 days of the semester ending,” Prof. Daniels said. “It’s more than just theoretical, it’s execution and implementation in real time, so the students are truly experiencing marketing in the real world.”

“At Assumption, students benefit from experiential learning projects to build their resume in the same way they would use internships,” he added. “Another example, if you’re an athlete, you might not be able to find an internship due to your practice and game schedule, but these types of projects are another excellent way of differentiating yourself when you apply for a job down the road.”

Assumption’s Digital Marketing Concentration features courses such as Digital Marketing Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Digital Marketing Analytics in addition to other core marketing classes. The concentration is designed to help students develop applicable skills such as social media measurement, business intelligence, SEO/SEM, web analytics, and marketing data insights to help prepare them for a wide range of business career opportunities. 

In the Digital Marketing Concentration’s first full year, more than 90 percent of graduating students were employed or in graduate school within six months following graduation; in the second year that number was nearly 100 percent. This year more than 75 percent of Assumption’s digital marketing concentration seniors had already received job offers or graduate school acceptances prior to the May 8 Commencement. Graduates of Assumption’s marketing major have gone on to join several notable firms such as Amica Mutual Insurance, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Brands, Staples, HubSpot, W.B. Mason, and many more.