SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2019) – USF Sarasota-Manatee business students are taking their education on the road with a semester-long assignment to help a local ice cream shop develop a promotional strategy.
Associate professor of marketing Kelly Cowart, PhD, introduced the students two weeks ago to Mildred Moten-Golden, a successful insurance broker and the owner of Millie’s Sweets and Treats, 6043 26th St. W., Bradenton.
“This all started two years ago when I wanted to have a small business for families and children to visit,” Moten-Golden told the 15 USFSM students who stopped by the shop for an hour to learn about Millie’s.
The class asked about customer demographics and past promotions, including social media campaigns, coupons and ads in circulars and local newspapers. Working in teams, they’ll be tasked with creating a promotional plan to help Moten-Golden reach more customers and increase sales.
The shop specializes in hand-dipped hard ice cream and sells shakes, smoothies, muffins and other baked goods created by Moten-Golden. It’s located in a shopping center in southwest Bradenton near a public library and across from State College of Florida. No other ice cream parlors share the center, but it competes with a handful of restaurants, including Peaches.
Moten-Golden told the students she could use their advice crafting a workable strategy that meets her $2,400 annual marketing budget.
The students, who are part of Cowart’s Promotions Management class, said they liked meeting Moten-Golden and the challenge of creating a plan on budget. In addition to the financial constraints, they’ll need to avoid overly intensive strategies and ideas that would fundamentally alter the business model.
“I think the challenge is going to be creating something that she can implement and maintain over the long run,” senior marketing major Seth Campbell said.
Working in teams of three and four, the students will run their ideas past Cowart to hone them. At the end of the semester, they’ll present them to Moten-Golden, who will choose one best suited for her needs. The team whose idea is selected will help implement the plan.
Like other USFSM professors, Cowart often brings students into the community to gain practical experience. She met Moten-Golden at another local business this summer where the two talked about marketing. Offered a chance to work with Cowart’s students, Moten-Golden readily agreed.
“They might have some new ideas, something I haven’t tried yet,” she said. “I would love it if they could raise the performance and production of the business to where it’s more lucrative. I want it to grow because I truly enjoy having it here.”
The students said they appreciate the assignment’s practical aspects.
“I’m more of a hands-on learner,” senior marketing major Hannah Hook said. “To go through this process in a real-life scenario … it’s a great learning experience. There’s nothing more valuable than learning through actual experience.”
For more information about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu.