Education Meets Industry: Real-World Experience in the Marketing Classroom

Dr. Deborah DeLong, Associate Professor of Marketing, is giving her BUS244 Consumer Behavior students a hands-on look at how the marketing industry works. In a two-phase project, student teams are working with a local advertising and media buying agency to help one of their clients build a stronger brand in the Pittsburgh market. Project activities include assembling competitive intelligence, conducting customer segmentation, and creating an effective positioning strategy, followed by developing an integrated marketing campaign to include a significant digital marketing component.

Dr. Debbie DeLong, Consumer Behavior professor

Dr. Debbie DeLong, Consumer Behavior professor

On the industry side, Dr. DeLong is working with Eric Perelman of Nartak Media Group, a Pittsburgh advertising agency that has been named “Boutique Agency of the Year” by the Media Association of Pittsburgh, and recently won a national Telly Award for creative excellence. Student teams will partner with client Mitch Dugan, founder of the law firm Dugan & Associates. Dugan specializes in workers’ compensation, personal injury, and Social Security Disability cases.nartak-media-group-logo-1x2awh9


In Phase I, each of the four student “agencies” analyze Dugan’s marketing strategy, competitive set and industry conditions to determine the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. The teams presented this background analysis and strategic direction to Dugan and Perelman on November 3rd for their feedback to help teams adjust their understanding and insights regarding the client’s unique circumstances and goals as needed.

In Phase II, the four student agencies will build on their proposed strategies with tactical recommendations geared toward creating greater awareness, interest and engagement with the Dugan brand in order to generate response within its targeted audiences. On December 13th, the four student agencies will present their strategic and tactical recommendations to Dugan and Perelman who will judge the final results for top prizes.This project shows the kind of innovation you get when education and industry come together. It’s not just summer internships or one-on-one mentors. Bringing business people with real-world experience into the classroom opens students up to how the industry works day-to-day, not just in theory.

Mitch Dugan of Dugan & Associates

Mitch Dugan of Dugan & Associates

At the end of the project, these students will take away an experience they might not have gotten anywhere else. Not only do they get to apply what they’ve learned to a real-world problem and have their solution judged by an industry professional, but they also get to see what their classmates do in the same situation with different perspectives and approaches. That’s the benefit of merging education and industry — the freedom inherent in the classroom to explore and learn backed up by the concrete experience of working professionals.

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