February 06, 2008

Marketing students assist local businesses

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — It's a mutually satisfying relationship with benefits garnered all around.

Five Southern Illinois businesses got the benefit of marketing plans produced by students in the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Marketing 493 class taught by Maryon F. King, associate professor in the College of Business and Administration. The goal was to help the local businesses grow while giving marketing students valuable hands-on experience in the world of business. The Illinois Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) located in the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, and the Center for Innovation, within the College of Business and Administration, facilitated the arrangement.

The project focused on hunting and alternative agriculture business clients. SIUC students provided marketing research, evaluation and business projections for the companies. They wrapped up their work with final marketing plan presentations in December to the business owners.

"Having access to a 'living laboratory' embodied in the programs of the ISBDC, where students can apply what they are learning through interactions with entrepreneurs and business start-ups, provides a critical and invaluable component of their business education," King said. "Our students are fortunate to have the support and enthusiasm of the professional staff of ISBDC."

Participating ISBDC clients, along with a brief description of their product line and contact information, include:

• Bailey's Bobbers Decoy Co. of Vienna, manufacturing and selling quality waterfowl decoy packages including line, weight and reel, www.baileybobber.com.

• Trophy Trails of Mt. Vernon, creating an advanced electronic deer scent applicator, www.trophytrails.com.

• Morel Camo of Allendale, manufacturing a unique morel mushroom pattern camouflage product line, www.morelcamostore.com.

• Bo's Cabins of Centralia, a retail business featuring high-quality cabins crafted by Mennonites, 618/533-6853.

• Uncorked Tours of Carbondale, providing guided bus tours and wine tasting featuring Southern Illinois vineyards, www.uncorkedtours.com.

"Working with these marketing students gave our clients an objective look at their business concept and resulted in many new ways to look at their products and marketing strategies," said Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade and the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIUC. "I think it was a good learning experience for all parties involved."

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIUC is part of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network. It provides guidance and training using proven management fundamentals at little or no cost to existing and new area businesses. For more information about the ISBDC and its programs, call 618/536-2424 or look online at www.southernillinois.biz.