Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
When registered nurse Karen Gray wanted to learn more about how a local company could expand its business, she realized the best choice was to learn from school.
Gray and her employer, Nurse Care, collaborated with two classes of Indiana State University business students taught by Aruna Chandra to create a marketing plan for the company.
A group of ISU seniors and a second group of MBA students in another class reviewed the marketing efforts of Nurse Care, an in-home health care services provider based in Terre Haute. The groups then provided analysis and recommendations for ways that Nurse Care could increase its brand awareness. The MBA students also gave a PowerPoint presentation on their effort.
“I thought it was quite good,” Gray, who worked closely with the students, said of the presentation. “They had put a lot of thought into it, and you could tell they wanted to do more than what the project was actually asking them to do.”
Each group of students met with Gray and other Nurse Care employees early in the semester to get more information about the organization, including what company officials sought from the project. The company employees were interested in learning more about expanding Nurse Care’s Internet presence, which currently consists of a single-page website that provides contact information.
“That’s probably the most urgent issue to be addressed,” said Tzu-chun Cheng, an ISU MBA student from Taiwan who worked on the project, “because nowadays people go online for everything, and they’re very limited online.”
The company has done strong business in part thanks to strong word-of-mouth referrals from customers, said Ho-Chieh Huang, another MBA student from Taiwan who worked on the project.
The Indiana State students also reviewed the ways in which Nurse Care could increase its brand awareness through social media platforms. The company currently is not on either Facebook or Twitter, for instance; some marketing classes at ISU feature a strong focus on social media marketing, said Amanda Myracle, a senior marketing major from Newburgh and project participant.
“With being a marketing major, anytime I can develop a marketing plan or give marketing ideas, it’s beneficial,” Myracle said. “I think I (can) apply it to jobs that would be in sales” or a different position in the medical industry.
The students also reviewed other marketing materials that Nurse Care utilizes, and provided constructive feedback, company officials said.
“They made us think more,” said Heather Brady, assistant director of nursing at Nurse Care. “How many times do we pull out our brochures, and we never thought much about (the content)? …I never really thought about it.”
Chandra, a professor of management at Indiana State, said she routinely incorporates collaborative projects with companies and other organizations into her curriculum to provide an experiential opportunity for students, while helping the partner organization accomplish an objective.
“I got the impression that she was a pretty forward instructor,” Gray said of Chandra. “She got her point across, the students learn a lot, and I thought that we as Nurse Care would be able to benefit from some of those experiences.”
The projects were part of the Indiana Global Business Advisors, an initiative created by Chandra in which she pairs her students with companies and organizations from around the world. The professor uses the opportunity of having students partner with existing groups on real-world issues to implement lessons and theories into the business world.
“Taking theory and applying it to an actual situation is an analytical process, and it’s challenging and difficult,” Chandra said. “I want them to make this transition of taking theory and applying it to practice rigorously.”
The participating undergraduate and MBA students in separate classes each decided to work on the Nurse Care project.
“We can feel like we give back to the community, because the community helps us out a lot,” said Jessica Markley, a senior finance and financial services double major from Galesburg, Ill.
Nurse Care officials said they are looking forward to reviewing the information more closely to see how some of the recommendations can be implemented in the future.