A marketing project assigned to students at Kalamazoo College morphed into actual help for a few businesses right here in Kalamazoo.

According to a post from Kalamazoo College, a Professor of Business Management, Amy MacMillan, teaches a class called "Principles of Marketing". In the past, I'm sure,  MacMillan would create scenarios for her students to come up with business plans and so on. But, this year she decided to change it up. In the fall, Professor MacMillan challenged her students to come up with a

real-life, actionable business plans that could assist business owners in persevering and even growing through the pandemic

The students were paired with businesses, both locally and beyond, and had to come up with recommendations for the business to help them grow. The project was appropriately named "PandemiK Partnerships". Here are a few SW Michigan businesses that were a part of this project.

1. Honore Salon

Honore Salone, which is located in the Kalamazoo Mall, was partnered with Joshua Pamintuan and his team. Noticing that Honore Salon had a very loyal, family like, clientele, the team developed a strategy to highlight all the things that made the clients so loyal by using Facebook and Instagram. All of Honore Salon's profiles were switched to business accounts and were streamlined to be more personal. They also recommended a Covid walkthrough video so clients could see the precautions Honore Salon continues to take and therefore feel comfortable about scheduling appointments. Genius.

2. Bilbo's Pizza 

Bilbo's Pizza, known in Kalamazoo for their handmade pizzas and J.R.R Tolkien themed decor and name, was paired with Mackenzie Maiorano and her team. Mackenzie actually works for Bilbo's Pizza which, I'm assuming, helped her develop an even more detailed plan for success since she had first hand experience with the business. Her group made three recommendations including "revamping the business’s social media presence toward more frequent and personal posts, re-centering its marketing messages toward college-age students, and conducting a College Night at the restaurant." Of course, the pandemic put those recommendations on hold, but hopefully they'll be able to implement them once Bilbo's reopens for dine in.

3. Intentional Yoga 

Intentional Yoga, on Westnedge Ave in Portage, paired with Jake Nugent who is a client himself. Along with his team, Jake suggested doing a customer survey to see what they felt was missing or what they'd like to get out of the business. The customer feedback suggested that the previous emails lacked a personal touch. So, Jake suggested including a 30 second video with a message from a class instructor in each email. He also recommended a monthly destress week where college students could take classes for free.

4. Rochelle Collection Winery

Rochelle Collection Winery produces and bottles wine right here in Kalamazoo. They were partnered with Baylee Bacheller and her team. Rochelle Collection Winery is actually currently in the process of opening a tasting room in downtown Kalamazoo which made Baylee's recommendation easy. They focused on what could be done to bring exposure to the tasting room suggesting Facebook advertising, a billboard in Kalamazoo, and specialty nights like a Ladies Night. Baylee, who was questioning her decision to get into marketing, said this project helped convince her that she has a possible future in the business.

In my opinion, collaborations are the key to success if you're a local business. And I love seeing local college students getting involved.

For more information on this project or to see other suggestions that were created for other businesses click here.

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