Experience-based learning is an integral component of Lindner’s MS Marketing program. Through a capstone project, students partner with an organization to problem-solve a real-world business issue the company is facing. Students then provide recommendations to improve the organization's overall marketing strategy and execution.
Read on about the recent capstone projects completed by MS Marketing students.
Spring 2023 Capstone Projects
Corrine Dates, MS '23
The University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub fosters an innovative and collaborative community, allowing students, faculty and corporate sponsors, such as Altafiber, to meaningfully engage with one another. Altafiber sought assistance in discovering new methods to earn market share, while maintaining a mutually-beneficial relationship with the 1819 Innovation Hub.
Dates' main focus was to help Altafiber retain University of Cincinnati students as customers after they graduate. To understand what would motivate these students to continue using Altafiber's services, she conducted qualitative surveys, inquired about values of certain product attributes (Attribute Value Mapping or AVM), and interviewed students to gather information about their current beliefs and attitudes toward Altafiber.
Through this analysis, Dates identified these key findings:
- Despite having a presence on campus and launching a recent rebranding campaign, Altafiber's brand awareness and name recognition were lacking.
- Altafiber’s current messaging didn’t resonate with their target audience’s needs.
- The current digital channels being used by Altafiber are not the channels most frequented by their target audience.
Based on these insights, Dates recommended that Altafiber evolve their messaging to better resonate with its younger target audience. She invited Altafiber to implement a new unique value proposition through alternative digital channels (such as Instagram) and innovative content. As a result, Altafiber launched a new campaign that includes a series of touchpoints that introduce fiber-optic services with new content types for this audience. They saw gains in impressions and purchases, validating the approach and providing the basis for expanding the new strategy.
Katie Walsh, MS '23
The University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub fosters an innovative and collaborative community, allowing students, faculty and corporate sponsors, such as Kroger Labs, to meaningfully engage with one another. Kroger Labs sought to effectively communicate its value to Kroger's corporate team in order to utilize and grow its successful internship program, while maintaining a mutually-beneficial relationship with the 1819 Innovation Hub.
Walsh's main objective was to understand the value proposition of the Kroger Lab and how to effectively communicate that purpose to affiliated individuals. To gather this information, Walsh conducted a series of research activities that included attending tours and events and interviewing former Kroger interns and current Kroger employees.
Her research led to three main insights:
- The Kroger Lab at 1819 stands out to affiliated individuals due to its commitment to using advanced technologies to transform Kroger's processes and challenge existing tools and systems.
- Kroger employees are most likely to engage with brief emails that have interesting headlines and eye-catching graphics that serve as internal marketing materials.
- Adopting more collaborative communication methods after 1819 Kroger Lab tours would help establish new relationships with internal and external audiences who are interested in the lab.
Based on these findings, Walsh proposed a new, innovative communication plan consisting of three phases:
- Implement creative email campaigns targeted at key Kroger divisions to promote innovative growth.
- Implement a new program called “1819 Kroger Lab Roadshow” where the lab would visit affiliated individuals to showcase its work and its benefits.
- Organizie post-show sessions with QR codes and feedback collection to enhance engagement and gather input, guiding the development of future events.
By implementing this communication plan, the 1819 Kroger Labs will be able to effectively convey its importance to key corporate divisions while utilizing more engaging internal communication methods.
Matea Sumajstorcic, MS '23
The University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub fosters an innovative and collaborative community, allowing students, faculty, and corporate sponsors, such as KAO USA Inc., to meaningfully engage with one another. KAO USA Inc. was seeking new ways to engage UC students in their innovation challenges and amplify the ideas that emerged from these sessions.
Sumajstorcic's primary focus was to understand KAO’s current recruiting processes and gain the perspective of UC students - interest, actual experience of participating in the challenges, excitement and interest in the new concept ideas. To gather information, Sumajstorcic conducted interviews with marketing employees at KAO USA Inc., distributed surveys among UC students, and discussed affiliated resources with 1819 Partners.
Her research yielded three crucial insights:
- UC students desire more in-person touchpoints with the KAO USA Inc. team throughout the entire sprint to achieve closer alignment to the expected deliverables.
- There is strained cooperation and communication between KAO USA Inc.’s internal departments, which negatively affects overall awareness and participation in the challenges.
- Recruiting efforts are failing to attract UC students, resulting in student turnover and disengagement among students.
Based on these findings, Sumajstorcic recommended that KAO USA Inc. revamp the challenges and clearly communicate their purpose and expected outcomes to students, through digital and tangible assets. By doing so, KAO USA Inc., in partnership with the 1819 Innovation Hub, successfully generated maximum student interest and engagement in design challenges, while also improving the success rates of the deliverables.
Shannon Redfield, MS '23
The University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub fosters an innovative and collaborative community, allowing students, faculty and corporate sponsors, such as Procter & Gamble (P&G), to meaningfully engage with one another. P&G sought to increase involvement, engagement and recruitment efforts among research students, while enhancing a mutually-beneficial relationship with the 1819 Innovation Hub.
Redfield's main objective was to understand how P&G is currently integrated within the activities of the 1819 Innovation Hub and explore alternative collaborations that could better align with partnership goals. To gather this information, Redfield conducted first-person interviews with 1819 partners, surveyed UC students and distributed polls to gather thoughts and perspectives on the collaboration between P&G and the 1819 Innovation Hub.
Her research led to three key insights:
- Future student interactions should prioritize collaborating with other 1819 partners, leveraging competitive events as a means to drive company innovation.
- Implementing a retention/recruitment marketing database would facilitate easier and more accurate technological communication touchpoints with recent graduates.
- Organizing a joint seminar featuring speakers from UC and P&G and showcasing "behind-the-scenes" innovation, would generate increased interest and awareness among students due to overlapping interests.
Based on these findings, Redfield recommended that P&G, in collaboration with the 1819 Innovation Hub, implement an improved record-keeping database and develop a more effective recruitment plan. As a result, P&G was able to strengthen their relationships with 1819 partners and implement strategies to retain upcoming and recent research graduates more successfully.
University of Cincinnati College of Nursing RN-BSN Online, Adaptive Educational Approach
Arizzona Albright, MS '22
The RN-BSN programs offered at the University of Cincinnati are a necessary step for associate degree-prepared nurses looking to continue their education for personal and professional advancement. The college was seeking assistance in adapting to industry changes while continuing to ‘win’ in the marketplace.
Arizzona focused on understanding where students, both past and present, found opportunities within their education and the industry to further leverage ideas. She collected information through surveys, evaluations of current marketing efforts, and considerations of students’ beliefs and motivations.
From this collected data, Arizzona acquired three primary insights:
- Despite the highly competitive nature of online RN-BSN programs worldwide, UC’s program is considered one of the best, given the staff’s care for their students.
- All three unique behavioral segments chose UC’s RN-BSN program for the same reasons — its flexibility, support and credit transferability.
- UC’s RN-BSN program satisfies several emotional values of students — self-respect, self-fulfillment, accomplishment and respect from others.
Arizzona recommended that the program continue to focus on the excellence of their online RN-BSN program, alongside maintaining its flexibility and community connectivity. The RN-BSN online program at UC was able to better articulate their prestige as a nursing institution, providing students with unparalleled experience, knowledge and status.
NeuroCoaching, Cognitive Coaching Awareness
Emma Focht, BBA '21, MS '22
NeuroCoaching is a modern approach to coaching that turns good managers into great coaches to better connect with their employees. The primary physician, Dan Docherty, PhD, wanted to improve awareness of the service by increasing the number of keynote speakers to 15-20 each year.
Emma conducted research finding that communication strategies and an expanded digital presence were required by NeuroCoaching in order to effectively achieve the goals outlined by Docherty.
From collecting this data and completing these requested tasks, Emma acquired three primary insights:
- Spend time getting to know your client personally, because it will employ a sense of deeper understanding and appreciation for the completed work.
- Understand that there is a balance between giving the client exactly what they want versus what they need in order to be successful long-term.
- Identifying a personal ‘why’ for the organization makes the project more interesting and engaging.
Emma recommended that the NeuroCoaching team should tailor their messaging towards managers seeking to foster stronger employee relationships, create a specified content plan for blogs and social media, and refresh their website. Due to her work, NeuroCoaching gained greater understanding of how consumers interact with its content and implemented strategies that increased awareness, conversions and engagements.
The Village Players of Fort Thomas, Cultural Arts Expansion
Kelly Larson, BBA '18, MS '23
The Village Players of Fort Thomas (VPFT) is a performing arts theater that offers a variety of community theater options while promoting general community and preservation of the arts. VPFT was seeking assistance with the expansion of its business operations in order to increase membership and engagement, and understand if a name change would benefit the company. Kelly and her capstone partner focused on surveying the target audiences, conducting employee interviews and utilizing Qualtrics to observe notable quantitative and qualitative data.
Kelly and her partner were able to acquire three primary insights:
- There was an overwhelming lack of awareness with regards to the facility, with few people having heard of or visited the business.
- There were far more competitors within the Cincinnati community theater market than initially expected.
- The name ‘Village Players’ holds major brand equity, so a change-of-name would not be feasible.
Kelly recommended that VPFT launch an awareness campaign, host a street fair, celebrate cultural awareness months and nominate members to be monthly brand advocates. VPFT was able to obtain new supporters while maintaining existing members, allowing the expansion of their offered programs. It also increased awareness of the arts, culture and historical importance of theater.
Start-Up by Executive Coaching Client, Executive Coaching Remodel
Temple Covington, DAAP '19, MS '22
The Executive Coaching Client, early in the launch of their practice, wanted to create an executive consulting company that provided guided self-help coaching to interested individuals. The client wanted detailed information regarding the competitive landscape in order to proceed with the implementation of testing from the research Temple conducted.
Temple completed first-person interviews, company audits and secondary research to collect data while creating insights.
From the data collected, Temple acquired three primary insights:
- The overarching ‘self-help’ industry was heavily saturated, requiring the client to narrow the presentation of their brand.
- The majority of executives have a feeling of ‘wariness’ and concern over changing the structure of their business, requiring the client to focus on the alleviation of these concerns.
- Within a start-up, it’s not all black and white, and this project required a lot of focus within the gray in order to find success.
Temple addressed her client's needs by recommending that the company diversify their offerings and authentically connect with personal networks in order to build awareness. The company went on to create a thorough testing plan that allowed the founders to refine their business development and create core competencies to attract prospective clients.
For detailed information on the MS Marketing program or to sponsor a capstone project, contact Executive Director, MS Marketing Program and Assistant Professor-Educator Dianne Hardin or Professor-Educator of Marketing and Innovation Drew Boyd.