For college students studying marketing, practical experience is essential. A hands-on project gives students the chance to see firsthand the work that goes on behind the scenes at a marketing company. Look for projects that expand on the principles students are learning in class; in doing so, they will make connections and improve retention of important concepts.
Successful marketing professionals have a thorough understanding of their target audience. Introduce your students to the effort that goes into developing a customer profile with a project that requires them to analyze an audience. Choose a specific "client" for the project and ask your students to identify a new audience sector. Then, they can flesh out the profile to gain an understanding of a sample customer in that group. Have students gather both statistical information, like median income and location, and more intangible information, like personal ambitions and attitudes. The more thoroughly students know their audience, the easier it will be to design marketing initiatives that appeal to them.
Surveys and Interviews
Part of a marketer's job includes talking to audience members; often, customers react in unexpected or surprising ways, and a marketing firm must adjust its strategies to better craft copy and advertisements. To teach market research skills, present your students with a product or service and have them figure out how to market it by talking to members of the target audience. Instruct the students to identify what they need, write concise questions that get right to the heart of the material and figure out how to analyze the information.
When a marketing professional develops a new concept, he often turns to user testing to see how people respond. User testing is useful for everything from choosing a new logo design to watching a person interact with a website. Have your students develop ways to test a specific product. Projects can be as simple as sending out three different versions of a design and asking for a preference or as complicated as videotaping people as they use a product to see how it can be improved.
Choosing a Message
One of the most important parts of marketing is writing a message that will resonate with customers. A marketing message should be concise and easy to remember. Give your students a product or service that has many potential marketing angles and have them choose one based on an audience profile. Have them come up with a central idea that states why the customer should care: better price, higher value or best performance, for example.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images