During the last 19 years, more than $180,000 has been paid out by clients for services rendered by Gary Clark’s marketing classes.
Clark, who has been teaching for more than 40 years, said that he likes his students to prepare themselves for future employment by doing rather than seeing.
“There’s a Chinese proverb that says, ‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand,’” he said. “They are doing an advertising campaign. They won‘t forget it.”
Clark is teaching three marketing classes this year involved in these projects. Each class supports a different client.
The clients for this semester are Mike Crawford, a wedding DJ; Tri-Cap, a Saginaw-based corrections facility; and Mortgage Utopia.
On average, the teams of students work to help their clients increase revenue by $10,000.
The goal is to create a binder of information to present to each client, which aims to benefit the client with market research and strategies as well as reports.
Clark said that students are also able to use the binders as a professional document sample.
Marketing senior Derek Sweet said that he has found the class to be a worthwhile experience.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Sweet said. “The leadership skills are beneficial. I’ve been the president [of my group] twice. It’s good to try to direct people how to say and when to say it.”
The classroom structure is different from other college classes. There is an emphasis on independent work with few lectures.
The class is run so students can get the feel of what it is like to advertise for companies.
Students also receive information and skills that benefits them after graduation.
Sweet said that one of the skills involve learning how to work in teams with a president.
He said that other skills from the class include how to think constructively, how to be precise and specific in writing, team work skills and critical thinking.
During the class, Clark said that the client must visit at least four times.
The first visit is for clients to tell students about themselves and what they want from the project.
The second visit is used as a question and answer session between the students and clients.
They third visit involves a progress report of the project from each group.
The final visit is where clients listen to the wrap-up report and are given their report.
Clark said that even though he has years of experience, he still learns from his students.
“I still don’t know it all,” he said. “I still rely on my class because they are my company. I am president, CEO, director of the board. But, they all have great ideas and we take their ideas.”