Student Raneisha Lewis discusses her group's ideas during end-of-semester
presentations for Dr. Clifford Scott's consumer behavior class.
Pitching ideas to marketing professionals may just be another day at the office for some, but for 29 University of Arkansas Fort Smith students, it was the culmination of a semester-long class project in one of their business courses.
Students had the opportunity to conceptualize, develop and pitch marketing- and product-related ideas to marketing leaders with ArcBest as part of Dr. Clifford Scott’s consumer behavior class.
Each group selected a different target market – from young professionals to members of the military – and brainstormed ways to improve customer acquisition and retention for U-Pack, one of ArcBest’s subsidiary companies that provides moving services to customers.
Students also conceptualized potential viral videos that adhered to principles taught from Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick.”
Aliena Grider of Van Buren was part of a group that proposed additional customization options for customers in the box kits that U-Pack currently offers. She said the experience helped prepare her to be successful after graduation.
“Being able to tackle a real-world problem in a classroom setting was fun,” Grider said. “It was very interesting looking into how a company does marketing and actually coming up with ideas that they could be used in the future.”
“One of my favorite parts about this project was when representatives from ArcBest came in and told us how they might use our ideas,” she continued. “It was so neat to see students and the ArcBest team working together. It showed me that I wasn't just doing this project for a grade. I was actually helping to make a change.”
The class project came about after Scott approached three members of ArcBest who are also UAFS alumni – Jeremy May, lead marketing analyst for special projects; Leanna DeLeon, manager of optimization and analytics; and Matthew Putman, paid search specialist – to attend end-of-semester presentations by one of Scott’s classes last spring. From there, Scott worked with ArcBest over the summer to implement a project in his fall class where students would work with the company.
For Scott, collaboration with ArcBest signaled an opportunity for students to receive participatory learning, where “students create the knowledge.”
“It’s a much more creative process. They realize that there’s not a right answer – they create the answer,” Scott said of participatory learning. “And incorporating a real business issues, where they see an important corporation trying to solve a problem, really gets them in that mindset and gets them to take risks, which is key in succeeding in business.”
May said he was impressed by the students’ presentations.
“Everyone in the groups did a great job of understanding who they were trying to focus on and coming up with ideas targeted at them,” May said. “All of the presentations gave us something to come back and think about. There were nuggets in each one that we will take back and see how it fits into our business model.”
Dr. Ashok Subramanian, dean of the College of Business, said the project was part of a larger goal for the College of Business to further engage with the community.
“We are not here to merely superficially engage with the business and civic communities. That every engagement be of the highest quality is very important to us – it is the essence of our brand,” Subramanian said. “This project exemplifies our ethos, and Dr. Scott’s and Mr. May's observations about the usefulness of this project is a vindication of our legitimacy as a premier College of Business.”
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.