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October 6, 2010 - SMAC in the News

SMAC Expands Its Marketing Services

Jim Tate

The Southwest Marketing Advisory Center (SMAC) has greatly expanded the types of services it offers this year.

Mike Rich, Professor of Marketing and the director of the SMAC, said the student-run business “offers a more comprehensive list of services now,” he said.

“When we first started nine years ago, we did a market analysis on Berkshire hogs. Then we began with focus groups and surveys, and that’s what we were doing. We’ve now expanded our services. We now offer a complete marketing plan for organizations and businesses — surveys, client positioning, promotional programs, brochures, web pages,” he said.

The SMAC is housed at SMSU and employs SMSU students. The Center has had 420 jobs to date, with a total contract value of $1.4 million. The total student payroll has been $525,000, said Rich.

“We offer more than the public realizes,” said Rich. “We started out as an entrepreneurial operation, and the students have learned how to run a small business. They’ve made their deadlines, and have had to scramble on occasion to do so, but it’s part of the real-world experience they get through the Center.”

Rich said the Center was created differently than other such ventures. “Most university programs get a grant, get the money, then purchase the equipment, get the facilities, hire the people and when the grant runs out, then it folds up. We started out with no money, built our operation from the ground up, and the last thing we ever got was revenue. We had no grants, no state money was involved.”

The Center has done marketing for clients both locally, and across the country. It is currently working with the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce to gauge what people are looking for in terms of retail in Marshall. It is also working with the Blandin Foundation to determine what makes Marshall unique within the region.

The Center has done jobs from California to Illinois. “We’ll take jobs from anywhere I can see a practical way it can be done. If it can be done remotely, we will do it,” he said, pointing to a firm in California that has hired the Center for analysis work.

The Center also has a close working relationship with the Small Business Development Center, housed at SMSU. “Our first jobs were in connection with the SBDC and now we do their marketing feasibility studies,” said Rich.

“The Center benefits everyone,” he said. “It benefits our clients, because we do good work. It also benefits the students by better preparing them for the workplace. It gives them real-world experience on top of their SMSU experience. This experience on their resumes helps get them jobs.”

The Center has teamed with the Southwest Association of Graphic Artists — a student group at SMSU — to help clients build web pages and create brochures and other types of graphic items. “We can help develop an entire marketing plan,” said Rich. “We’re no longer just surveys.”

The center has a revolving scholarship fund which awards two, $1,000 scholarships each semester, as well.

“The Southwest Marketing Advisory Center has evolved into a small business that offers complete professional marketing services at a fraction of the usual cost associated with this type of work. We can also do individual marketing pieces,” said Rich.

For further information, call 507-537-7102 or e-mail:

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