Marketing Students Help Roanoke Non-profits

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Virginia Western Community College marketing students help Roanoke non-profits develop grassroots low-budget marketing strategies. Non-Profits such as American Red Cross, Junior Achievement, United Way, Jefferson Center, and The Taubman Museum were excited to take part in this project.

I wanted to teach my students to think outside the box

Can students enrolled in an introductory marketing class at Virginia Western Community College solve the marketing problems of Roanoke’s struggling Taubman Art Museum, while helping other non-profits as well? Marketing Professor Samantha Steidle, who also owns Virtual Marketing, thought it just might be possible so she decided to put her class to the test.

A newspaper article in The Roanoke Times that showed Taubman Museum’s finances were “etched in red ink” inspired Steidle to initiate the class project.

“I read the article, which stated that the museum continues to struggle and relies heavily on donors with deep pockets,” noted Steidle. “It prompted me to think that instead of just teaching basic marketing principles, it might be better to show my students how to approach and solve real world marketing problems. The reality is that often budgets are small or non-existent and that innovative marketing tactics can make a difference. I wanted the students to be a part of the solution that could actually help local non-profits.”

Steidle’s previous employment with the American Red Cross created her connection to philanthropy and was also an inspiration to tackle the marketing problems of non-profits. She divided her class into 5 groups of 4 students each. The assignment was to develop unique marketing strategies that could benefit the non-profits. In addition to the Taubman Museum, the other non-profits included the United Way, Junior Achievement, American Red Cross and Jefferson Center.

“I wanted to teach my students to think outside the box,” stated Steidle. “They were fully engaged, contentious and over delivered with the assignment. I was very impressed with the high caliber of their recommendations. The goal was to give low-cost marketing ideas to the non-profits, investing time rather than money. They really came through.”

Steidle hopes to continue teaching the Marketing 100 class while offering both non-profits and small business owners new marketing ideas from a younger perspective. As the economy continues to improve, these ideas can help to benefit a current marketing plan.

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About Virtual Marketing, LLC            

Samantha Steidle is the owner of Virtual Marketing. Virtual Marketing offers marketing and media planning for small and medium-size businesses, and has offices located inside the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Building. Samantha also works as a Marketing Professor at Virginia Western Community College, and holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

Contact info:    
Virtual Marketing, LLC                                         
210 South Jefferson Street                                
Roanoke, Virginia 24011           
(540) 397-4377    

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