Marketing Students Helped With Museum Perception Study



Students in Tom Schurino’s Business 105 (Principles of Marketing) class at Kalamazoo Valley Community College gained “real world” experience by assisting with an Audience Awareness, Attitudes and Usage (AAU) study at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

In May they conducted exit interviews with museum patrons and shared their results with Bill Schroer of the Battle Creek-based WJ Schroer marketing company who is conducting the AAU study for the KVM.

Schurino said that over the course of a month, 40 of his students worked in teams to do exploratory research and conduct exit interviews with more than 100 Kalamazoo Valley Museum visitors.

Students found the experience invaluable. “The foundation to marketing is market research,” Schurino said. “My students actually went out and conducted research. Instead of just learning about it, they actually got out and did it.”

Students compiled reports and presented their results in class. “I just think it made the class much more real,” Schurino said of the experience. “It was great, practical experience. I hope we can do more of it. It brings the textbook alive.”

Schroer said the information provided by Schurino’s students is essential to his research. “Without professor Schurino’s interest and participation in this project we would not have been able to obtain the over 100 in-person interviews with visitors to the museum that his students completed,” Schroer said. “The data compiled is real world, meaningful information that goes beyond a class exercise. These exit interviews are significant. This study will be much more comprehensive and robust as a result of his class’ participation.”

Bill McElhone, Kalamazoo Valley Museum Director, said the students were courteous and professional. “They can be assured that their efforts will help to shape the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s future,” McElhone said.

The study also included a random telephone survey about the museum, its offerings and community perceptions. “These studies are important because they allow organizations to understand how the target audience -- both those who have visited and members of the community who have not visited -- perceives the museum,” Schroer said. The findings will help museum staff determine if the programming interests the community. It will also determine whether the museum is effectively marketing, using the most effective language, appeal, and media.

Schroer’s study may be used as a benchmark to determine how changes in programming, communications, marketing, and PR are impacting the satisfaction of the community with the museum. “This study or one similar may help the KVM determine new ways to improve, be responsive to its community and accomplish its mission,” Schroer said.

Schroer has completed his research and recently presented a comprehensive report to museum staff. “This will help contribute to the planning that we want to do in terms of programs and marketing,” McElhone said.