When Marathon Coach, Inc. decided to revamp its marketing plan, it knew just where to turn-the Strategic Planning Projects (SPP) program at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business.
SPP links first-year Oregon M.B.A. student teams and faculty members with companies interested in capitalizing on and analyzing emerging business opportunities. For Marathon Coach, the world's largest producer of luxury bus conversions and specialty recreational vehicles, students were tasked with developing a comprehensive understanding of the company's current and potential customers. The goal was to develop a strategic marketing plan focused on particular customer lifestyle segments, including retirees, touring musicians/celebrities, and outdoorsmen. During the course of the project, it also became clear that Marathon would greatly benefit from a media plan that dovetailed with the marketing analysis. As a result, the M.B.A. students-Sarah Strock, Deborah Marshall, Sukhrob Kodirov, and Enis Iplikci enlisted the help of their peers in the School of Journalism and Communication.
"We were able to make connections and work with three great journalism students," explained SPP student Marshall. "Their skills enhanced our project, and they had the chance to learn a lot about strategic marketing."
The end result of the project was a marketing plan documenting unrealized potential markets on which the leisure coach manufacturer could capitalize. In addition, the students presented a media plan and advertising campaign outlining specific publications for best communicating with existing and prospective target markets.
"I can't tell you how pleased we are with the student's work. Their suggestions were thoughtful, original, creative, and right on target," said Mary Barton, Marathon Coach's marketing manager. "The Strategic Planning Project has been a wonderful, extremely helpful experience. It was a pleasure working with all the students, and the lifestyle advertising campaign they developed will help Marathon reach its marketing goals."
Instructor Doug Wilson, the project's faculty adviser, concurred. "The students did a great job helping Marathon better understand its markets and providing viable tools regarding where it could and should invest advertising dollars," he said. "The collaboration between the business and journalism students made the project an even more dynamic experience. It's a great testimony to the benefit of interdisciplinary experiential education."