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Marketing Test Drive

Experience Marketing class teams up with local small businesses to turn classroom learning into real plans.

Campus News  |  Sep 6, 2018  |  By Megan Neri
Four people around a Mclaren.

Serge Shaakov turned to UNLV's experience marketing class for help getting his car detailing company, Dr. Suds, on the right track. From left, professor Anjala Krishen, Shaakov, and students Magdalena Kobylak and Emma Glaze. (Lonnie Timmons III/UNLV Creative Services)    

A polished video with voiceover begins: “What’s a luxury car? It’s not just a Lamborghini, BMW or Audi. It’s an extension of you. Treating your car right means treating yourself right. A car wash is a sensory experience that not only creates a gleaming interior and fresh scent, it generates a renewed sense of self.”

It looked like something you would see marketing executives pitching to a client.

Rather than a high-end boardroom at a bustling advertising agency, this presentation took place in associate professor Anjala Krishen’s Experience Marketing class. Students were tasked with developing an experiential marketing strategy for a real business on a tight deadline.

After researching several local businesses, including a doughnut shop and dog groomers, Emma Glaze and her fellow group partners Magdalena Kobylak and Zillion Chanla chose Dr. Suds Mobile Detailing for their project. The group had only three weeks to deliver a marketing strategy and create a new logo, website, and a video to tie it all together.

The timeline alone presented a challenge, but Krishen believes connecting students with real businesses in the community is a vital component of the class.

Real Clients

“Using real clients in the classroom can be complicated, but the reward always outweighs the risk. I do it because I am huge believer in fostering student creativity in the classroom,” Krishen said.

Founded in 2016 by Sergey Shaakov, Dr. Suds Mobile Detailing has found success because of Shaakov’s meticulous nature and commitment to customer service. A friend of Kobylak, Shaakov jumped at the opportunity for some help and guidance in marketing when he heard she was looking for a business to partner with for the project.

“Working with the students at UNLV was a pleasure,” Shaakov said. “They have amazing work ethic and were very thorough in their process of learning about my company.”

The process each group went through was as unique as the businesses they were working with to develop the marketing strategy. In the case of Dr. Suds, the student group realized after several conversations with Shaakov that they needed to include an overhaul of the company brand to reposition the car detailing service as an experience for the customer. It was at this point in the project the team realized their work would truly help Dr. Suds.

Finding Solutions

“One of the reasons I decided I wanted a degree in marketing is that I enjoy the problem-solving aspect that comes with working with a real person” Glaze said. “Case studies are compelling but they create the idea that there is a right or wrong answer and less opportunity to be creative,” said Glaze. “There’s nothing more rewarding than solving someone’s problem and being invested in the solution. I don’t know if I would have felt as excited about what we did if it wasn’t for a real person, solving a real problem.”

Businesses the students partnered with varied from a Brazilian restaurant to a hair salon, nonprofit organization, a bakery and even a jewelry maker.

“Very often my students make lasting relationships with the businesses they work for on this project,” said Krishen, adding that it exposes them to the real struggles of owning a small business.

Not every business receives a new logo and website as a result of the project like Dr. Suds, but they do get the 25-page report compiled by the students that includes research, recommendations, and a marketing strategy. Students complete the class with a new sense of confidence and an anecdote or two to share as they interview for their first post-graduation job.

Email Anjala Krishen if your business is interested in partnering with on a future marketing class project.