The University of Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), a program offered by the Warrington College of Business Administration, provides students with valuable tools to help them develop and sustain entrepreneurial skills in their professional lives. Through workshops, speakers, degrees, and special programs, students are encouraged to explore business opportunities in different areas, including start-up, social, and corporate. Some of the programs offered by CEI are the following:
- Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship (MSE): A one-year degree program that exposes students to both theoretical information and practical application of business and entrepreneurial practices. It is one of the first programs of its kind. After students complete this program, they are ready launch a venture on their own.
- Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP): A 3-phase program aimed at disabled veterans looking to start a new business or increase the profits of an existing business. The program is free of cost for participants and sponsors and private donors absorb the costs.
- Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa: Open to both graduate and undergraduate students, this six-week long program provides participants with the opportunity to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs in South Africa. Students will work as consultants with two small businesses, while having the opportunity to immerse in a different culture and exchange ideas.
For the purpose of this discussion, I selected the Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship (MSE) and give some recommendations in order for them to increase enrollment to the program using a well-structured integrated marketing communications (IMC) campaign.
- Men and women who hold a bachelor’s degree (all undergraduate majors) from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher in the last 60 credits of course work. This part of the target market includes professionals already working full-time, but looking for opportunities to “be their own boss,” as well as those who just recently graduated.
- Students from all Florida universities who are about to finish their bachelor’s are a key part of the target market. We acknowledge that there are big opportunities within University of Florida current students.
- Residents near the Gainesville area will be part of our primary target market.
- Secondary target market will be comprised of other Florida areas, as well those living out-of-state.
- Both of these groups have an interest in developing skills and understanding of how an idea or product can be used to create a successful business or to help an existing organization want to grow.
- Members of the Academic Common Market, which may receive in-state tuition if their home state doesn’t offer an MSE program, which is why they are also part of our target.
- The MSE at the University of Florida was the recipient of the 2013 National Model Award for Graduate Entrepreneurship Program by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship; the program was also the recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education Award, given by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.
- The program includes experiential learning programs like GatorNest, in which students collaborate with area startups and the Mentoring Program, which provides students a relationship with more experienced or more knowledgeable person to guide them in specific areas. This gives the program a practical dimension, rather than only focusing on theory.
- The program can be completed in just one year.
- The MSE program is one of the nation’s premier graduate entrepreneurship experiences.
- CEI sponsors local professional organizations in Gainesville, like GAIN.
In terms of IMC strength…
- Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, as well as a blog, email marketing account, and a website have been already created for the CEI program and part of the communication strategy includes promoting the MSE program.
- According to the Entrepreneur Resource Center, “the Gainesville region has a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that provides the tools necessary for the growth of all businesses in any stage of development.” The fact that MSE is on-campus at a university in Gainesville represents an opportunity because it means having presence where that system is located. This represents more networking opportunities, among others.
- Local events, such as monthly luncheons by GAIN represent opportunities to promote the program, as well as partnerships with other colleges and universities to promote entrepreneurship. One example is San Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development.
- CEI’s relationship with the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce may help promote the MSE degree in local events.
- The Start-up Hour is another networking opportunity for people who might be interested in the MSE degree.
- Two other schools in the area, University of North Florida and University of Central Florida don’t offer a full master’s degree in entrepreneurship. They offer Entrepreneurship MBA and certificates.
According to Integrated Marketing: What It Is and Why You Should Embrace It – Part 1, integrated marketing communications (IMC) is defined as: “an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer and are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforces the brand’s core message.” This is the part in which brands and companies establish relationships with their current and potential customers by sending messages and encouraging dialogue through media.
Through the implementation of a well-thought, well-balanced integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy, UF’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be able to increase awareness and reach its enrollment objectives to the Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship program. They already have some of the important components in place, including a website, blog, email campaign, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. The next step is to structure those channels and messages so that they are cohesive and consistent across all platforms. In my opinion, this consistency applies, not only to the tone, voice and content of messages, but also to the overall graphic design, including colors, fonts, and use of images, among others. The brand, product or service is right in the middle and all components around it should work together to create that pleasant experience.