CUW students guide Thiensville owners on social media

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

Feb. 1, 2018

 Individuals involved in the marketing partnership between Concordia University Wisconsin and businesses in Thiensville are, from left, Thiensville Trustee David Lange; CUW students Robert Miranda, Nick Mohlman and Brennan Linse; and Daniel Sem,
dean of CUW’s Batterman School of Business.
Photo courtesy of Concordia University Wisconsin

THIENSVILLE — A partnership involving Thiensville businesses and Concordia University Wisconsin has become a win-win proposition.

Starting last September, students in a marketing class in CUW’s business school were partnered with a variety of Thiensville businesses.

Groups of three students interviewed the owners of their business, looked at their website and other social media activity and finished the semester by producing a plan with marketing recommendations.

“We could really use an update on ways to get out into the public besides the phone book – we need new thinking,” said Theresa Umhoefer, who owns Herbst Oil, 230 S. Orchard St., with her husband, Dan. They were one of the businesses that participated.

Umhoefer said she was very impressed with the thorough review and the resulting “digital playbook” and video presentation she received from the three students – Brennan Linse, Nick Mohlman and Robert Miranda – paired with the business.

She said she and her husband plan to stay involved with a second phase of the class that will involve implementing some of the changes. It’s likely they’ll be paired with the same students.

“This is going to be something good for us – and something good for the kids,” she said.

Linse, a senior computer science major from Jefferson, conducted the initial interview with Theresa Umhoefer.

“We created a mock website design, example social media posts and sample content – posters and a promo video,” Linse wrote in an email, adding he’s looking forward to implementing some of the suggestions over the coming months.

“Most college courses consist of lectures, readings and homework assignments,” Linse added. “The e-commerce course, on the other hand, was purely practical. We had the opportunity to work with a real local business – and I think it was incredibly valuable for both parties.”

Mohlman added that the class and his work with Herbst Oil was valuable.

“Overall, this was an incredible experience that has made me anxious to gain even more insight into the world of modern marketing,” he wrote in an email. “I am very excited to continue on with this course and hopefully continuing to work with Herbst Oil.”

Mohlman thanked Herbst and the other businesses for working with the class.

“Working on this project was an awesome experience, and undoubtedly the most valuable course I have taken as a college student,” he wrote.

The partnership grew from a suggestion by David Lange, a member of the Thiensville Village Board and the owner of Lange Medical, a medical products company located in the village. He has been involved in several efforts over the years to boost business in Thiensville.

He approached Daniel Sem, dean of CUW’s Batterman School of Business, with the idea. Last semester’s class was taught by Colin Murdy; Sem is teaching the second phase of the class this semester.

“This was a great partnership,” Sem wrote in an email. “The students learned a lot and really liked it. I think the businesses that do not have much of a digital presence really benefitted from it, and the feedback was positive.”

Herbst Oil was one of seven Thiensville entities paired with students. They had a digital-marketing need and it clearly was one of the success stories from the class. The others involved – some already have a strong digital presence – were the cheel, glaze, Lange Medical, New-Newtrition, the Screen on the Green movie series in Village Park and the Thiensville Business Association.

CUW is changing its approach this semester with those businesses that already are digital-savvy, Sem said.

“For example, maybe the students could work on a specific project defined by the business,” he added. “Those companies need less guidance on their strategy, but they may need help implementing some aspect of their existing plan.”

He said the TBA has been supportive and flexible about making changes.

“It is a learning curve for us, but we are an entrepreneurial school, so we can pivot as needed along with our partners,” he added. “This partnership fits really well with our educational approach in the Batterman School of Business, where our preference is to have the students learn business in real-world applied situations. That is done best in partnership with local businesses, like those in Thiensville.”

Theresa Umhoefer said she was particularly impressed with Linse, who conducted the initial interview and then followed through.

“He was attentive to what I said,” she said. “He really listened, and they came up with a good marketing presentation. He’s going to be somebody’s good employee – and they’re hard to find.”