Marketing in the Digital City

By Sophia Penna (GDDM ’19)

MKT 350 teacher Mariella Katz in the classroom (Sophia Penna)

Digital marketing (MKT 350) is a new course offered on the Montreal campus, taught by first time teacher Mariella Katz. I decided to take this course because my advisor and I both believed it would be a beneficial class to take as a Graphic Design major. My hopes before entering this class were to learn how to better market myself as an artist as well as any businesses I may work with in the future.

Mariella started her career as a photographer when she was just 16 years old, six years after her family moved from Bulgaria to Canada. She later went on to study interactive media and web-tv in college and then advertising and public relations. Mariella used her experience as an influencer and her background in marketing to take a risk and open her own company, Frenzr, which works with clients by managing their social media accounts and creating relevant, marketable content. They work with clients in an effort to pair them with influencers to make the brand seem more tangible. Mariella also hosts social media workshops where she teaches companies how to use social media to their advantage. Many of the topics she brings to MKT350 come directly from these workshops.

MKT 350 explores the tools and platforms that can help organize and create a marketing strategy. Through a hands-on project the course provides a better understanding of utilizing digital marketing while effectively using the tools taught throughout the semester. This course allows us to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a real life situation by sitting down with a local business to discuss: their target audience, their use of digital media, current marketing strategies, and how they think they could improve upon those strategies. The case study is then further developed to meet the specific needs that class teams deem their clients would benefit from. Once complete, teams can then bring the plan back to the business to look through. As this is just a case study it is up to the business to decide on implementing our ideas to better grow their market; whether they chose to follow it or not does not affect your case study.

Mariella had us further explore the the city and go out our comfort zone to approach small business owners with this project idea. Once we had a few businesses in mind we paired up and began our own research. This research included a digital analysis to view the way the selected businesses used their social media accounts as well as other digital tools such as blogs and websites. Mariella taught us that, even if a business has a strong online presence, it does not mean they are maximizing their ability to market themselves. Once the research was done, our classroom teams split off in an effort to reach out to local businesses that would be willing to share their marketing strategies with them in order for our teams to create a marketing plan for their business.

In class we discussed many ways to reach out to our prospective clients. To be sure the teams were comfortable speaking to business owners, Mariella had us draw up a pitch of sorts and then conduct a mock interview with us. She helped us better develop our talking points so we would be prepared when the owner asked us questions about the case study.

My partner, Anna, and I struggled at first to find a local business to work with us on this case study. We called about 14 local coffee shops before one agreed to work with us. While we had them on the phone one of the girls working confessed that they didn’t follow a specific marketing strategy and that they had never paid anyone to conduct their online marketing.

We finally had an opportunity to sit with the owner of Café Sfouf, Gabby, to find out how she opened this café with no prior experience in owning a business. While she felt bad she couldn’t provide us with much information (because she had no marketing plan) we assured her that we would still be able to produce a case study to create a strategy that would hopefully benefit her and her cafe. After the interview, we concluded our digital audit complete with current strategies, goals, client personas, and a S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. We then presented our digital audits in class to get a better sense of what the other teams were working with and what changes we believed as of now the business’s could benefit from.