The University of South Australia is offering free, confidential advice to small and medium businesses that need help with their marketing – and in doing so, giving final-year students valuable, real-world experience.
Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) make up the vast majority of Australian businesses, yet numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show almost half of them cease operating within their first four years.
A new UniSA marketing clinic is offering small and medium businesses free assistance that could help more such businesses succeed.
Staffed by students, the clinic operates under the supervision of qualified marketing practitioners to provide confidential marketing advice to SMEs on a range of topics including advertising, brand management, marketing strategy, market analysis, and buyer and consumer behaviour.
The new initiative opens opportunities for SMEs and provides undergraduate business and marketing students with practical learning opportunities to further develop their marketing knowledge and professional skills.
Marketing Clinic course coordinator Vivien Chanana says the clinic offers an important service to the community.
“Many SMEs have limited resources and may need strategic marketing advice to help shape their direction,” Chanana says.
“Our final-year marketing students have a wealth of knowledge, which can greatly benefit companies that may not have the expertise in-house.”
The Marketing Clinic works starts with an initial appointment, conducted as a 60-minute interview, in which the business discusses its marketing problem with UniSA marketing students. Students then delve into research alongside a marketing academic, and provide recommendations to the client about how to best solve the marketing issue.
A diverse range of businesses have already worked with the UniSA Marketing Clinic, including ITWC Construction Asia Pacific, Foodbank SA, Natural Aid, start-up technical companies VOXON and Heliostat, and the SANFL.
SANFL Brand and Marketing Manager Kristy Taylor says they worked with the UniSA Marketing Clinic to analyse gate entry data from the 2016 league season.
“This was the first year we’ve used electronic ticketing at our suburban grounds, so we needed to analyse our gate entry data and identify trends across all our games and clubs throughout the season,” Taylor says.
Third-year marketing student Erin Hoklas says the experience of working with real clients has been invaluable.
“I’ve been able to participate in meaningful marketing tasks for real clients, as if I was consulting for them in the real world,” Erin says.
“I’ve also been able to fine-tune my professional skills in both written and verbal communication, client presentations, meeting deadlines, and data analysis.”
Chanana says the clinic exposes students to a range of industry clients, helping them establish a network of contacts for securing placements, internships and employment.
“You can really see how the clinic operates as a whole,” she says.
Clinic services are available on Mondays from 1pm to 4pm at UniSA’s City West campus, Yungondi Building, 70-72 North Terrace. Appointments can be made by phoning +61 8 8302 0285 or emailing MarketingClinic@unisa.edu.au.
For more information visit the Marketing Clinic webpage.