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Marketing Students Work on a Mayo Clinic Health System Capstone Consulting Project

| Lauren Herrmann

Friday, May 17, 2019

For the fourth semester in a row, students in Dr. Kranti (Kran) Dugar’s capstone class in marketing (marketing management) were engaged in a semester-long consulting project with Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS). In phases through the semester, student teams worked on three different business problems: (a) one section worked on competitive scanning, product/market development, and promotional plan development for MCHS’s Sports Medicine Services, (b) Another section worked on competitive scanning, product/market development, and developed strategies for increasing the number of externally referred patients of MCHS’s Oncology Services, and (c) yet another section worked on developing a marketing strategy and promotional plan for MCHS’s new Genetic Counseling Program in Eau Claire (leading to an understanding of healthcare planning in specialty departments and experiences matching markets to services).

Throughout the semester, various representatives from MCHS visited the student teams to conduct guest lectures, coaching sessions, and answer student questions. At the end of the semester, all teams presented and submitted a report to MCHS’s Administrative and Planning Leadership team.

Reminiscing about his experience working with students, Jason Craig, Vice Chair of Admin, said, “I enjoy the one-on-one coaching sessions with the teams. Education is such an important pillar of our mission at Mayo Clinic Health System. Interacting and engaging with students of marketing at UWEC’s COB allows me to educate them and learn from them.” Talking about the progression of the project, Jay Edenborg, Director of Public Affairs and Marketing, observed, “Over time, we have learned how to shape student experiences so that they can get the most out of the project, and we can get the most out of their recommendations.” Referring to the quality of students’ work, Susanne (Zan) Degen, Vice chair, Admin, said, “I have always been impressed with the caliber of students in the senior marketing capstone course.” Similar sentiments were shared by Jordan Beeler, Administrative Fellow: “The students all did a great job and had very unique strengths within each team—it was apparent that they have been prepared very well throughout the semester! I was very impressed at the level of professionalism and preparation in each presentation. This was a great experience and the students gave us a lot to think about—their insights into our target markets will allow us to look at our websites and marketing materials differently to ensure we are meetings the needs of our patients.”

The students are appreciative of the opportunity as well. According to Brooke Boegli, a senior student majoring in marketing, “My experience working with our client, MCHS, really challenged our group to think outside the box to come up with a creative campaign, utilizing the data and information that we were given. The positive feedback that we received from the client after our presentation proved to us that we really are marketers. Working with a client, group members, and the ideation process that was required will be useful as we continue on with our careers.” Chelsey Barnes, another senior student, quipped, “Having the ability to work with MCHS was an incredible example of the high impact practices offered within the UWEC COB. MCHS spent time with us within class to communicate their needs and hold check-ins to answer any questions. They came to us with real world problems and goals. This ultimately made my team and I invested in the project because I knew they counted on our information and research done. When it came time to support the other groups presenting, I enjoyed the diversity of work and ideas that was inspired from the different prompts MCHS gave. We had the opportunity to listen to groups who had completely different hurdles to approach and I was able to grow knowledge - not only from my own work, but also from others.” Highlighting the hands-on approach afforded by this experience, Jordan Winegar, another senior marketing grad, said, “Being able to develop a marketing plan for MCHS was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to gain real-world business experience in a classroom setting. Not only did we have the chance to present in front of MCHS executives, we also got one-on-one coaching with them and multiple client interactions. This experience taught me how to interact with professionals and how to take their advice to deliver a professional presentation. I'm grateful for the experience of being able to work on a project for such a well-known non-profit organization.” 

Reflecting upon student and client experiences over the years, Dr. Dugar said, “I am proud of my students. My goal was to provide a high impact experience to my students. Services marketing requires budding marketers to approach strategy differently. Add medical services to the mix, and you got yourself a real challenge! So, working with student teams to formulate solutions in strategic marketing to MCHS’s business problem(s) has opened my eyes to the advantages of community partnerships. Talking of which, I want to go on record and commend our community partner. MCHS has been a pleasure to work with, and I am forever grateful to the support and insights of Jason Craig, Jay Edenborg, Zan Degen, Ann Thayer, Nicole Aloia, and the rest of the MCHS team. I look forward to many more semesters of a symbiotic partnership. I am also thankful to my Chair, Dr. Kristy Lauver, who always encourages me to build and maintain such partnerships to enhance my teaching.”