Goodman helps high school students pitch ideas to local business

For Benny Li and Jordan Crowther, a recent marketing project was about more than getting a good grade, it was about helping a local business.

While competing in a term-long marketing activity through Brock’s Goodman School of Business, the Grade 11 District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) students fronted rival teams that each pitched solutions to marketing challenges faced by local independent health food store The Peanut Mill.

Students from A.N. Myer and Sir Winston Churchill secondary schools heard directly from the St. Catharines business about marketing challenges before teams from each class were paired with members of the Brock Marketing Association to help fine-tune their pitches.

After completing in-class presentations, two teams from each school, including the ones headed by Li and Crowther, were selected to present to Peanut Mill staff members and Goodman representatives at Brock on Thursday, May 16.

Li, a 17-year-old student at A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls, said the experience of analyzing a business and then preparing a marketing presentation allowed him to take part in a different type of learning than he normally encountered in the classroom. His team focused on a new hashtag for the company’s social media platforms.

“Working with Brock and The Peanut Mill has been a great way to learn real-world marketing skills, and to manage finances and improve presentation skills,” he said.

Crowther, a 16-year old student from Sir Winston Churchill in St. Catharines, said the exercise would pay dividends in her career journey as well. Her team focused on growth in the area of online meal planning resources and promoting in-store consultations.

“It’s a really great program. This has been the best assignment,” she said. “We learned a lot about how to make people like our presentation and get them on our side. I want to be a real estate agent, and this has been really great practice.”

When the presentations came to a close, Crowther and Li’s teams finished in an unprecedented tie for first place, which Li said showed the quality of the work from both sides.

“It felt great knowing that we tied with a team who set such a high standard,” he said. “The result showed us what a great job we did and that our hard work paid off.”

Peanut Mill owner and General Manager Jason Sebeslav said the result reflected the overall quality of every presentation.

“This was our first time participating in this marketing challenge with high school students and it was a real pleasure and an honour to have all of these young, creative minds focused on our business,” he said. “It was very difficult to choose a winning group because all of them had some great ideas and presented them professionally.”

David DiPietro, Experiential Education Co-ordinator in Goodman, said the exercise allowed students to participate in the type of immersive activities that have made Brock a leader in experiential learning in all seven of its Faculties. Goodman has worked with local organizations and high schools to stage the activity four times in the last two years.

“It’s a reality of what they will face in their post-secondary studies as well as the workplace,” he said. “Exercises like this, that partner students with real local clients, help them to get an early jump on developing skills they will use for the rest of their lives.”

DiPietro was also encouraged by the final projects the students delivered.

“After seeing the presentations, it’s clear that the groups from both schools would be ready to take on University-level projects in the Goodman School of Business,” he said.

Cristina Greco, Goodman’s Recruitment Co-ordinator, said that in addition to showing students they could succeed at Brock, the exercise also served as an important recruiting tool.

“It helped to develop a great rapport with the local high schools and to provide a touch point for students as they prepare for post-secondary learning,” she said. “By working with our team, we can serve in a type of mentorship role as well as offer familiar faces the students already know when they decide to study here. We also build lasting connections with teachers, who will then communicate what Brock is doing for their students.”

While the teams wrapped up their projects, Sebeslav said their presentations meant his staff could get to work further examining the students’ suggestions.

“There are a lot of good ideas to think about and sift through,” he said. “It’s hard to say right now which of those we’ll act upon, but the students’ presentations have certainly got the wheels in our heads turning.”

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