Marketing Students Advise Business Owner

April 10, 2015

How does a restaurant owner engage consumers? What is an effective “hook” to draw people to a restaurant in an area with many competing restaurants?

For the 21 GCC students in Tina Stevens’ Principles of Marketing class, these questions aren’t an abstract exercise, they are real questions from a real client seeking marketing advice. This spring, GCC Marketing students are working with Harold Tramazzo, long-time owner of Wings Over Amherst and Hangar Pub and Grill and new owner of Amherst Brewing Company, to help answer those questions.

Just like a client meeting with a marketing firm, Tramazzo met with the students to explain the background of his businesses and the challenges he faces. And, just like marketing professionals, the students examined the big picture of Tramazzo’s situation and are focusing  on the task he set for them. The students are conducting market research and writing papers about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by Tramazzo’s businesses. For their “final exam,” they will present recommendations to Tramazzo based on their research and analysis.

Tramazzo, eager to hear those recommendations, said “The GCC marketing class reached out to me at the perfect time. I am developing plans to combine the Amherst Brewing Company with the Hangar Pub. Since they are both close to UMass, students are an important part of my customer mix. So, collaborating with the GCC students to better understand and reach that audience is a great opportunity.”

The students are approaching the project in groups because that’s how the real world of marketing works. Stevens knows that real world having owned a marketing firm in Westfield, Stevens 470, for over 25 years. Stevens said, “I’m impressed with my students’ motivation and focus. It is unusual for a community college to offer this level course with a ‘real world’ project. Usually this level of experience happens later in a four-year college setting. When I was a GCC art student in the 1970s, we were taught to work hard to meet high standards, to learn from critiques that were both exacting and caring. Now, as an instructor, I have the same intentions, to set high standards for my students and help them meet the challenges.”

Clearly, the students are thriving in Stevens’s class. Liza Scranton, 20, from Colrain, about to complete a Business Administration Transfer degree and Management Certificate, said, “This is my favorite class and favorite project. I can’t imagine getting this opportunity anywhere else to learn about both marketing and management. As team manager for my team of six, I’m responsible for making sure we do the research and create an effective presentation.”

Brian Goodridge, 20, from Whately, a business major planning to transfer to the University of Massachusetts, said, “I’m a regular customer of the Hangar. Now, I’m seeing what goes on behind the scenes to make a restaurant popular and what it’s like to be a marketing professional.”

Dan Kulhanek, a non-traditional student from Greenfield who has worked in food service and is studying toward a GCC business degree, said, “Tramazzo is a very smart guy with a strong vision and many years of experience as an entrepreneur. It’s a perfect time for marketing students to be involved. We learn from him and his expertise, he learns from our perspectives as students.”

Each semester, GCC’s Principles of Marketing class works with a real client. Previous clients have included Josh Simpson Contemporary Glass, Indoor Action, Hillside Organic Pizza, The Greenfield Business Association, Real Pickles, and The Bridal Barn.

To learn more about GCC’s Business courses, contact Thom Simmons, Co-Chair, Business and Information Technology, at simmonst@gcc.mass.edu or 413-775-1482.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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