Museum Empowers Students by Implementing Marketing Advice

Victoria Holmes, a juior studying dance, flashes her student ID badge at the Norton Museum of Art's coffee bar, where students receive a 30 percent discount. Holmes and three of her classmates in Principles of Marketing did a marketing analysis of the entire museum. The Norton staff implemented their recommendation to offer a student discount at the coffee bar to entice more students to visit the museum. Mackenzie Dyess, Holmes' teammate on the project, looks on.Inquisitive, artistic marketing students put learning into action to benefit the museum next door and snag a discount for fellow students at the museum’s coffee bar.

Four students from Dr. Lawrence Burgee’s Principles of Marketing course selected the Norton Museum of Art as their community partner for a service-learning project. They visited the museum, met with officials and developed an analysis of the museum’s community outreach, social media, restaurant and coffee bar.

Among other recommendations, they suggested the Norton offer students a discount at the coffee bar to entice them to visit. If the prices were more in line with on-campus options, the students reasoned, more of their peers would study in the museum’s Great Hall.

Unbeknownst to the students, Director of Communications Scott Benarde passed along the recommendation to additional museum staff. Because of the report, all students presenting a valid school ID enjoy a 30 percent discount at the coffee bar, he said.

The students — Victoria Holmes, Mackenzie Dyess, Morgan Bilyeu and Starlena James — learned of the impact of their work after winter break.

“We were so surprised,” said Bilyeu, a sophomore accounting major and dance minor.

Marketing professor Dr. Lawrence Burgee, Norton Museum of Art Director of Marketing Hilary Greene, Mackenzie Dyess, Starlena James, Victoria Holmes, Morgan Bilyeu and Norton Museum of Art Director of Communications Scott Benarde pose for a photo when the students presented the findings of their marketing analysis in November.The students didn’t know that anyone in the museum other than Benarde and Director of Marketing Hilary Greene would ever see their findings, much less take them to heart. The experience showed the students that “we do have a voice that matters,” said Holmes, a junior dance major and a business administration minor.

“We went behind the scenes to meet with the other marketers who work here, and their openness was very encouraging,” Holmes said.

The Norton Museum of Art was just one community partner to benefit from students in Burgee’s two Principles of Marketing courses. The students worked in teams to conduct marketing assessments for 11 non-profit partners. The service-learning experiences were part of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan: Reach Out | Reach In | Reach Up.

Students reach out through community service, reach in to reflect on the community service’s connection to course learning outcomes and reach up by channeling those experiences into spiritual formation.

The experience with the Norton encouraged Holmes to go into the arts world.

“There’s still an aspect of business in art, in dance,” Holmes said.

Morgan Bilyeu, Starlena James, Mackenzie Dyess and Victoria Holmes pose for a photo at the Norton Museum of Art's coffee bar. The Norton staff decided to offer a student discount at the coffee bar in response to the students' recommendation in their marketing analysis. They hope to see more students utilizing the Great Hall and museum as a result.Dyess, a sophomore marketing major and graphic design minor, recognized an opportunity to channel her interests into designing social media and advertisements. Bilyeu has always dreamt of working in accounting for a nonprofit organization that shares art with others, and she saw the importance of loving her work, she said.

As the Norton staff engaged with the students, it made the students want to engage more with them. Greene and Benarde took the time to attend the class presentation where they laid out their findings. Benarde said he’s just as excited about the results as the students.

“We are constantly looking to broaden the audience and get young people into the museum and interested and inspired by art,” Benarde said. “If it hadn’t been for the students, this wouldn’t have happened.”

PBA students make up a large portion of the museum’s younger audience, Bilyeu said. They attend the Norton for Art After Dark programs, school projects and art classes. They bring their out-of-town guests. Plus, “it’s a really good study spot,” Holmes said.

James, a sophomore studying business management, has already spread the word to a few friends.

“I definitely want to come study here a lot more,” James said.

The Great Hall is nicknamed “the living room” because that’s the atmosphere the staff wants it to have, Benarde said. Anyone can read, study or catch up with friends in the hall without paying admission.

The PBA students were “incredibly interested and engaged,” Benarde said.

“I was impressed by their questions, what they wanted to know, how much they cared about learning about the museum,” Benarde said. “It was a treat for us to talk with them and see the presentation.”


Photo 1: Victoria Holmes, a juior studying dance, flashes her student ID badge at the Norton Museum of Art's coffee bar, where students receive a 30 percent discount. Holmes and three of her classmates in Principles of Marketing did a marketing analysis of the entire museum. The Norton staff implemented their recommendation to offer a student discount at the coffee bar to entice more students to visit the museum. Mackenzie Dyess, Holmes' teammate on the project, looks on.

Photo 2: Marketing professor Dr. Lawrence Burgee, Norton Museum of Art Director of Marketing Hilary Greene, Mackenzie Dyess, Starlena James, Victoria Holmes, Morgan Bilyeu and Norton Museum of Art Director of Communications Scott Benarde pose for a photo when the students presented the findings of their marketing analysis in November.

Photo 3: Morgan Bilyeu, Starlena James, Mackenzie Dyess and Victoria Holmes pose for a photo at the Norton Museum of Art's coffee bar. The Norton staff decided to offer a student discount at the coffee bar in response to the students' recommendation in their marketing analysis. They hope to see more students utilizing the Great Hall and museum as a result.