When you’re a small business owner you have your hands full. Every aspect of the business is on your mind but for some, there just isn’t enough time in the day to oversee all the different elements that make a business successful.
Enter the Sault College Public Relations and Event Management Students. As a class assignment and competition, teams of students were assigned to help 6 vendors at the Mill Market.
The task was to come up with a business and marketing plan for each of the six businesses that signed up.
“What the students did was create social media campaigns, branding campaigns and to try and get the word out” said Natasha Colak, instructor of the Public Relations and Event Management course at Sault College. The students had two weeks to come up with an original plan to help the vendor grow their business and further their sales. “not everyone is trained in public relations and event management, sometimes you need that extra bit of help” Colak said.
Alexei Berg worked with two others to help out Northern Twisted Pizza owned by Jean Lamay. Lamay actually runs two vendor booths and also a mother of three young kids.
“The first thing we did was do an evaluation of the business” Berg said, “she gave us her main suggestions and from there we were able to come up with a strategy. Three tactics that we deemed the most important”
The owner just didn’t have the time or skill set to use social media or what kind of signage she needed to attract customers.
“before they helped me, I didn’t have business cards, I didn’t have a banner. I wasn’t on Instragram or Facebook and they did that for me” Lamay said. “They re-did my menu board, they did everything for me that I, as a mother of four and operating two businesses – I just didn’t have the time”
The student’s efforts were judged by business and media professionals. Treena Clement representing SaultOnline.com was one of several judges that had to pick the winning team.
Logan Kennedy also helped with Northern Twisted Pizza plus Lamay’s other business, Northern Twisted Art. “it was really interesting because we were given the two vendors to work with and to see how different both were was a challenge and an opportunity for us at the same time” Noble Thomas, who comes from India to take the Sault College after graduate course called it a “big experience” and enjoyed communicating with the vendor to achieve the results they wanted. “In a city like Sault Ste. Marie where there is a lot of pizza, we had to make her pizza stand out” Thomas said.
Similar tactics were used by the other competing teams and the businesses were grateful for the help and knowledge the students shared with them . “or goal is to educate people on gluten free and cross contamination” said the operator of All Gluten Free – A local bakery vendor. “The students helped us set up our facebook page to help educate people” said Cathy McEwen. “they have given us excellent ideas to move forward with the educational part”McEwen stresses that people don’t fully understand how important cross contamination is in gluten free products. McEwen, who manages the business with a partner also points out that their baked goods don’t taste like gluten free products – and shouldn’t. The students helped the business get that message out on social media platforms.
Pauline Christie Pauline’s creations “they’re awesome students, the stuff they showed me was amazing” said Pauline Christie owner of Pauline’s Creations. Like many small vendors and businesses, Christie didn’t have the time left over after a long day to tackle her own media planning and marketing. Christie is usually too busy creating her own products like candles and melts.
The judging took place between 1 and 5pm Wednesday. The various judges were able to talk to the students and evaluate their plans. At the end of the day, Northern Twisted Pizza with the team of Alexei Berg , Logan Kennedy and Noble Thomas earned the top score.
This was the second year the Public Relations and Event Management at Sault College teamed up with the Mill Market for the business promotion competition.