Working with The International Town and Gown Association to bring SCVNGR to Morgantown has been a valuable learning experience. During this service-learning project, I gained experience in managing professional relationships, working professionally, writing more cohesively and working with a group for an entire semester.
As far as working with businesses is concerned, I believe that the real effects will be seen in January and February before we can really judge the impact our project has had on the Morgantown community. I can say that the businesses we signed up, including The Mountainlair Games Area, The BOPARC Morgantown Ice Arena, The Wow! Factory, BH2 Salon and Bloominhair Salon are very eager to see SCVNGR in action over a longer period of time and to see how the free marketing and promotions on a mobile level will influence their businesses. We are still working to meet with a couple more businesses this week, as well. Although the semester is over, I plan on visiting the businesses to complete challenges we created as well as to see how customers interact with SCVNGR and to hear how it has affected them one-on-one.
“We want to give away a free bowling party for the person with the most points at the end of the semester. They can bowl and relieve stress with their 10 closest friends as the semester winds down and finals approach,” Dunbar said.
BH2 Salon, which recently opened in the Suncrest Towne Centre, thinks that their partnership with SCVNGR will increase their traffic from college students, a group that is vital to a successful salon in Morgantown.
“Student traffic into our salon has been up and down. A more interactive marketing strategy like this could help to maintain a more consistent college-age flow of business,” said Emily Bloom, owner of BH2 Salon.
As the top of my blog says, “Communication is Vital.” Above all, I believe this project helped me learn how to communicate with business owners. Midway through the semester we learned that “polite persistence” works best. Here’s an explanation:
-Emails are the least effective form of communication because they can easily be overlooked or tossed aside, especially for businesses that receive many junk and spam emails.
-Making a phone call is a bit more effective, but you can never trust anyone to leave a message that will actually be returned. We learned that the best bet is to call during normal business hours to reach an owner or manager directly and to call the next day if that is not possible during your first phone call.
-Last, GO IN PERSON. It takes more time, but it’s much more difficult to say no to a free marketing opportunity if the representatives are right in front of you, friendly and willing to sit down with you personally and receive your input right away. Often, adults don’t take young people seriously and this sets a professional and serious tone from the start. Now, this method may be a bit more awkward, but it is most effective and any embarrassment is quickly forgotten once a business has signed a partnership agreement.
Bottom line: Persistence is best. Adults can be flakes just like students. Following up is not annoying, it’s necessary.
Also, don’t forget to K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Although I learned a lot from creating the market plans, most businesses just wanted the simple explanation. The packet was a bit intimidating for some smaller businesses, considering the fact that SCVNGR is a simple application that appeals to the child inside consumers.
This project also helped me with teamwork throughout an entire semester. Delegating responsibilities and developing trust within your group is vital to success and can be a scary process. With teamwork comes additional time management skills, as well. We spent more time working outside of class than inside, so I learned to better manage my time spent on this project, other courses, my job and obligations to university organizations I am involved with.
Last, PR 324 is a writing and applications class. As the media relations specialist, I learned how to write more concisely for the media. I am obsessed with commas and extra words. Writing these releases to promote SCVNGR and ITGA helped me keep my writing simple yet thorough and to the point with a bit of added flair. I also learned to keep the audience in mind when writing. For instance, if I send a feature to The Huffington Post, they don’t need to know every single local business that has signed up for a subscription. For them, it’s more about the technology, innovation, community interaction and reach of the project. Additionally, I got to have my comma and more interactive fix through this blog.
I am proud to say that today we were successful in gaining media coverage! I sent my release to our student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum and we made the front page! Although it is an independent story, a bit of my release made it in and there are quotes from Dr. Jensen Moore and ME! Check out the article!
What did you think of the project? Did you learn anything interesting through reading my blog posts? Will you use SCVNGR in Morgantown or in your town?
Be sure to check out (and like) the new Facebook page to see what Morgantown businesses are still partnering with SCVNGR and to use SCVNGR to earn discounts on your holiday purchases! You can still follow our Twitter profile, as well!
Thanks for reading! I believe this semester’s service-learning project has been a success for the community and both a fantastic and unique learning experience. Now, I have to go earn rewards at businesses after all this hard work!