When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many small businesses told the Chamber that they were challenged with reaching customers and shifting business online.
“The challenge to reach and attract and communicate and to do businesses with customers, especially if you are a restaurant or retail or you have a business where you are shut down and have some restrictions, business doesn’t look like it usually does,” said Angie Elliot, Wichita Chamber of Commerce vice president of member engagement & small business.
WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash worked to connect digital marketing students to help businesses like the Hopping Gnome Brewing Company and Tillie’s Flower Shop. As a result, students received real-life work experience by assisting businesses to develop their digital marketing. For example, Erynn Dixon worked with the Hopping Gnome to improve their SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
“We went through the entire process of meeting with the business owners, discussing their needs,” Dixon said. “We personally came up with their plans, how we would go about meeting those needs, then we would perform the actual work, and at the end, we would close it all out and receive actual payment.”
In turn, the students were helping the businesses reach more viewers online.
“We pop up a little faster there in Google for everybody. We got some things done that needed to be taken care of. It was a great experience,” said Stacy Ward Lattin, Hopping Gnome Brewing Company co-owner.
“More importantly than anything, to help our students be successful and to help our local businesses to be successful and really to fulfill needs of our small and medium businesses which oftentimes get left behind,” Utash said.
Individuals interested in learning more about the digital marketing program should visit www.wsutech.edu/digitalmarketing.