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Southeastern marketing students apply lessons learned in working with local business owner

December 13, 2022

The marketing group of Joe Wolf, Andrew Dillard, Cameron Hauch, and Wilson Hicks meets with business owner Sarah Hill and Desoto. Not pictured, Richy Clark.


Applying classroom learning to the real world is just one objective of Assistant Professor Eric Kennedy’s Principles of Marketing class at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Early in the fall 2022 semester, the 22 students in the junior level class were assigned a special project – conduct research and present marketing recommendations in a verbal presentation and written report to a real client – in this case, Sarah Hill, the owner of Loyal Blue Pawprofessional Puppy School in Durant. The business, which opened last year, offers pet training services and operates as a boarding and day school  facility for dogs.

Hill met with the students earlier in the semester to inform them of some of the marketing challenges she faces as a small business owner. Later, the class toured the business to gain additional insight.

The students, divided into five groups, presented their marketing recommendations to Hill Tuesday during class. They were encouraged by Kennedy to be creative in their presentations, and to base their strategy on data gained through research.

“This activity is an example of what is called project-based learning,’’ Dr. Kennedy said. “And I think it benefits everyone – the students, the business owner, and even the University through community involvement.  One benefit the students have is the product they produce in class — they leave this class with a tangible piece of evidence of the type of work they can complete. And I encourage students to add this class project to their resume and share their report with hiring managers during job interviews.’’

Professor Eric Kennedy lectures to his marketing class Tuesday morning


Hill said she came away impressed with what she heard.

“The students were awesome,’’ she said. “They offered some great ideas to help with my business.’’

Morgan Dunn is an accounting major from Durant who says the course has provided a new experience for her.

“I’ve never had a class before that was basically project-based,’’ she said. “It’s been really interesting, really cool. What is most interesting is the real-life aspect of it – it’s not a hypothetical (business), but a real business we’re working with.’’

One of Dunn’s group members – Makenna Wilkinson – says she enjoys the group work the project requires.

“I’ve learned that working in a group brings out social skills, that everyone has something to offer, and everyone brings their own unique perspective and talents. I also made new friends working in my group.’’

Wilkinson is a marketing majoring from Eufaula, Oklahoma.

Another member of the class, Andrew Dillard, a marketing major from Sadler, Texas, admitted he was skeptical of the course as it was his introduction to marketing.

“After a few weeks, I really found a deep enjoyment in the class; so much so that I changed my major to marketing,’’ he said. “Once I was able to find my footing in this class, it became very fun and enjoyable. Getting to learn about the basics of marketing and how creative the job actually was is what drew me into this field. I have learned the best ways to use my creativity for certain marketing situations and how to work with a team that has a common goal. When it’s all said and done, I can look back at this class as the one that properly introduced me to my future career. ‘’

Another student in the class is Richy Clark, a Business Management major from Sherman, Texas.

“It’s definitely been a hands-on, collaborative experience,’’ he said, adding his group focused on “bringing more eyes’’ to the company’s  website. “Dr. Kennedy has given us the tools on how to be a good marketer.’’

Kennedy, who is in his second year at Southeastern, noted that the assignment encompasses not only research, but writing and presentation skills as well. In previous teaching assignments at Grand Valley State University (Michigan) and the University of North Texas, Kennedy had his marketing students offer recommendations to such diverse businesses as a coffee shop, symphony, restaurant, bean bag company, and even a pro basketball team.