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Business Management

Staying Connected: Poole Students Help Businesses Nurture Relationships with Customers

While the world adjusts to a new normal, increased connectivity through social media is enabling many businesses to continue operating despite being physically closed.

Students in Patrice Nealon’s digital marketing practicum recently showcased their ability to deliver real-time marketing strategies to help their clients navigate the coronavirus pandemic. 

In our current business environment, a strong online presence has never been more important. “Now more than ever, it’s critical for companies to stay connected to their customers by staying relevant and empathetic. Regardless of the goods or services a company provides, addressing the pandemic is a must. A company’s online tools are a lifeline to reach customers. Good Social Media, well written emails, and an updated website acknowledging the coronavirus communicates a brand is relevant and nurtures the customer relationship”, says Nealon, senior marketing lecturer in the department of business management. 

Within the practicum, students created a 3-week social media campaign for clients, but abruptly found that their original content no longer worked. Once the pandemic hit, they quickly adjusted their strategies to be sensitive to COVID-19’s impact on businesses. 

Students brainstorm social media strategies for a local Triangle company.

“I think the current situation shows that having a digital strategy is crucial for any business”,  says Lea Porz, graduating senior in business administration with a concentration in marketing, and student in Nealon’s course. “During times of crises, a digital strategy allows for a certain level of connectivity between the brand and the consumer”. 

If businesses want to stay connected with their customers, intentionality is key. This means implementing digital marketing strategies that focus on “building brand image while giving people the feeling that they are not alone during this uncertain time”, Porz adds. 

Nealon worked closely with her students to help them develop marketing content that was both effective and responsive to the world’s business challenges. “Companies need to make sure their marketing efforts send the right message. A social media page with low quality or inappropriate content can be just as harmful to a business as not having a social media presence at all”, says Porz.

In addition to the knowledge gained through their coursework, Nealon is grateful her students were able to learn the value of being flexible. “This pandemic is a great lesson in adapting to change. Having the ability to move forward in circumstances beyond your control is a critical skill one needs in business”, says Nealon.

The theme that seemed to ring heavily throughout the last few weeks of the course was ‘connection’. Nealon’s students were located around the globe in France, Spain and Italy, and spread across the U.S., but their sense of togetherness couldn’t have been stronger.

“Once the pandemic hit, it was wonderful to see how my students responded to their classmates”, said Nealon. “Before we began our initial class on Zoom, we checked in with each other and asked, ‘How are you? Do you need anything’? Students were really concerned for each other’s wellbeing. We had some students who were in heavily impacted areas, so it was great to see the genuine compassion shown by this generation”.

Nealon’s students check in with each other before beginning class.

Despite the challenges her students faced, Nealon says their focus was simple; connect businesses to their customers, while remaining connected to the Pack – a perfect example of think and do.