CANY: Market Research and Strategic Planning

Editor’s note: The following article first appeared in Whitman Magazine in the spring, 2016. It was written by Alison Kessler.

Since 2015, Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s student-managed consulting firm, Consurtio, has provided students with opportunities to build professional partnerships and gain real-world experiences through assisting regional and global clients with developing business solutions. During the spring 2016 semester, a team of Consurtio students was tasked with evaluating the existing marketing efforts of Creative Alternatives of New York (CANY), a nonprofit that uses drama therapy and creative expression to help children and adults rebuild their lives after trauma. The team included:

  • Jenna Kaufman, a 2016 graduate marketing management and finance major.
  • Sarah Graham, a 2016 Whitman/Newhouse graduate marketing management and public relations major.
  • Jennie May, a Whitman/Newhouse junior majoring in marketing management, supply chain management and public relations.
  • Kelsey Weston, a 2016 Whitman/Newhouse graduate marketing management and advertising major.

Over the course of 15 weeks the team used their backgrounds in analytics and strategy to develop a market analysis, create a strategic plan targeting existing and new donors and recommend potential donor management systems. Dennis Taussig, founder of the communications design firm Taussig & Associates, mentored the students throughout the experience. As a result of the students’ hard work and creative thinking, the client received an executable plan to meet their organizational objectives.

“Working with the Consurtio students was a valuable experience,” said CANY Executive Director Alissa Desmarais. “The team was able to take in a set of diverse voices from our staff, board and junior board members and respond with several solid marketing ideas. We found the students highly responsive, professional and intelligent.”

In turn, the project provided students with a chance to develop and utilize their skills outside of the classroom.

“One skill that a lecture can’t really help you develop is gauging client reactions, “said Graham. “Weekly conference calls not only allowed the team to get constant client feedback but also gave us practice adapting the work plan according to our progress. We learned to prioritize and re-prioritize multiple action items to stay on task and meet deadlines.”

For their participation the students received three elective credits. Consurtio offers a variety of business solutions for areas, including but not limited to: accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, management, real estate and supply chain management.

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