First Interns to Lead UWO’s Digital Marketing Clinic Consider Launch

To say they graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh is a colossal understatement.

Four student interns have spent the past 10 months with UW Oshkosh’s Digital Marketing Clinic (DMC), a company born out of necessity during the pandemic, saving dozens of small businesses in dire need of digital marketing expertise.

“The DMC really started because of the trend during the pandemic to move from a physical storefront to an online store, and a lot of our customers don’t know where to start,” said Justin Schmitz, a senior at From Father., obtain a degree in marketing.

“Educating them on the how and why has had a huge impact on our clients to help them grow their business. Along with this, we make several website designs for businesses. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have their own website or even social media.

Justin Schmitz, left, and Shyanna Kelley, right, present a completed website to the owner of Suite21 in Oshkosh.

Students found that many small business owners struggle with digital marketing – knowing how to plan and post content on social media, understand keyword research, or plan new websites.

With CARES law funding intended to help businesses suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the innovative program connects talented UWO digital marketing intern students with small business owners. CARES funding is provided by the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Digital Marketing Clinic works in partnership with SBDC-UW Oshkosh.

“Small business owners usually need a lot of help with digital marketing,” said Yasmilet Esquivel of Janesville, another graduate marketing intern student with a specialization in digital marketing.

She said her client projects indicated planning and implementing social media to be among their biggest challenges.

“They find it hard to take the time to plan which social media posts or what kind of content to post on certain platforms,” Esquivel said.

Schmitz said the students provide a lot of education. Although social media has been around for about 10 to 15 years, they’ve found that many businesses don’t know how it works when it comes to marketing, or even its impact.

Podcaster Dan Markus meets online with Shyanna Kelley, right, to review her social media audit.

Schmitz said working on real projects that make a difference has had a huge impact on his future. He has worked with companies in a multitude of industries, met inspiring entrepreneurs and “dived into many different angles of marketing”, never looking alike. He said the job prepared him for the world of work in a way that went beyond just marketing.

In addition to implementing various marketing skills, students developed oral skills and professional etiquette in meetings with business owners.

“Our interns give owners a heightened degree of confidence,” said Kathy Fredrickson, director of the Digital Marketing Clinic and UWO marketing faculty member, who noted that students had seen a marked improvement in attendance. and the effectiveness of the online brand for their customers.

DMC in figures

Since its creation 10 months ago, DMC’s internship teams have completed 1,758 hours of consulting, 123 clients served and 894 jobs supported, according to Fredrickson. They also ran four social media marketing webinars to over 200 registered attendees.

Dan Brosman, director of UWO’s Small Business Development Center, said the DMC was launched in February using funds from the CARES Act to hire a CEO and four student interns.

The response was swift. In 72 hours, more than 30 requests for free consultation were made; and by May, 75 applications had been received, indicating strong demand for the program.

Four additional students and a contracted project coordinator joined the team in mid-May to increase capacity.

Brosman said one or two student interns are assigned to each company, providing about 15 hours of support to each customer. They deal with “online deficits” for small businesses with less than $ 2 million in annual sales who turn to SBDC.

Jodi Carlson, left, sets up her professional Instagram account with Yasmilet Esquvel, center, and Shyanna Kelley.

“The DMC has been an incredible opportunity to apply the skills we learned in school to the real world,” said Adam Branch, a marketer from Downers Grove, Illinois. “Kathy (Fredrickson) did an amazing job leading the team to success and I made a lot of memories along the way.”

Branch said in his experience that clients are more interested in social media audits, keyword research, and policy recommendations. One project that stood out was Elektra Cruise, a fully electric boat tour service. Most of the work was done face to face and involved photographs, a social media audit, and best practices to help them understand how to use Facebook and Instagram for business.

He said the skills developed through DMC prepared him for a career he loved and showed him that hard work always pays off. He credited Brosman and Fredrickson for their advice. Branch said he plans to move west to work for a full-service marketing agency.

Tackle real life issues

Esquivel said a client project that stood out for her was for the Oshkosh Women’s Fund. It was a large team project that included a “brandscape” analyzing the brand image and message of a company.

“I was able to take the lead in logo design and color recommendations, which helped me find what interests me most in digital marketing,” Esquivel said. “It guided my interest in design and branding. In other words, I like to work with aesthetics.

A creative photo represents “digital marketing sprints,” the framework used to effectively bridge digital marketing gaps.

Esquivel plans to create a marketing agency with a small group of professionals eager to help individuals and businesses with digital marketing needs.

SOS: digital marketers

Customer Steve Giese of electrical engineering company Gain Control in Pulaski said he loved the DMC team’s presentation.

“It was methodical and detailed for each of our social media accounts and our website,” Giese said. “The changes they suggested are fairly easy to implement and we have started them.”

Giese said the students have provided a list of recommended changes and they can be worked on if time permits.

“The CARES law grants we received were excellent and held us back during the pandemic,” he added, “but they didn’t help us improve our marketing so it was more beneficial. “

Digital Marketing Clinic interns prepare a Facebook ad mockup to present in a social media webinar.

Brent Miller of TNT Fitness, with sites in Menasha, Fond du Lac and West Bend, described the team as “amazing.”

Miller said they broke things down so that they were easily understood.

“There’s not much (for them) to improve on, just keep learning, growing, being you, and being transparent about how it works,” Miller said in a follow-up survey.

The students inspired clients to keep learning, especially about the different social media tools.

At the same time, Fredrickson said the four graduate interns have made significant professional progress through their experience.

*Characteristic image: Graduate interns meet in the DMC workspace at Sage Hall. From left to right, Shyanna Kelley, Adam Branch, Yasmilet Esquivel and Justin Schmitz.

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