This year the Association of Marketing Professionals and Fisher Board Fellows joined forces to put on the first ever Marketing For A Better World event. The event kicked off with small-group break-out sessions with local non-profit organizations. Six of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations participated, including Catholic Social Services, Kaleidoscope House, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, A Kid Again, the Ohio Psychological Association, and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Each break-out session group included one representative from one of these non-profit organizations, and these representatives posed a current marketing problem their organization is facing to the group. Participants then explored ways to solve these marketing problems and had discussions about the best solutions.
I was the moderator for the break-out session with Catholic Social Services. The CEO of Catholic Social Services, Rachel Lustig, attended the session and brought with her a brief case study for students to read and then comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Rachel explained some of the strategic and marketing changes that Catholic Social Services is going through, and she asked for student feedback on the case study and how CSS might better reach out to donors. I was impressed by how thoughtful student responses were, and by how passionate everyone was about helping the organization. The experience was a good one for students because it gave them a chance to work on a true marketing issue, and it allowed them to better understand some of the problems that non-profit organizations deal with.
After the break-out sessions, everyone converged downstairs in the U.S Bank Theatre and heard from three keynote speakers: John Rush, CEO of CleanTurn, Liz Geraghty, VP of Wendy’s, and Dianne Radigan, VP of Cardinal Health. The speakers had wonderful things to say about the ways that marketing and business can impact the world for good. John Rush discussed the importance of social entrepreneurship, and how profits are often not the ultimate goal – the goal is to help others. Liz Geraghty discussed what it was like to work for an organization that is closely aligned with its partner non-profit. She explained the ways that Wendy’s uses marketing to spread the word about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and help get more children out of foster care and into their forever homes. And finally, Dianne Radigan discussed the importance of working for an organization that aligns itself so strongly with helping the community and making a difference.
The event was a huge success, and I think everyone – myself included – learned something. It was wonderful to see undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and business professionals, come together to discuss ways to help our local non-profit organizations and ways that marketing can make a positive difference in the community. I hope this event continues in coming years, and I hope that Fisher continues to explore ways to get students involved with giving back and focuses on the ways that marketing and business can be a force for good in the world.