What do a curry jackfruit wrap and 20 eager college students have in common?
Each year, the University Marketing Association seeks out projects for its members to gain practical, hands-on experience. For the fall semester, the UMA has teamed up with Culinary Arts instructor David Miller to promote the Bistro.
Open 4:30–6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays in the Culinary Arts Building, the Bistro gives student chefs experience with short-order line cooking from a diverse and healthy menu they created for the semester. The class also learns how to manage inventory and how to ensure the customers’ overall experience is enjoyable.
Through the combination of tasty menu offerings and marketing to the BJU community, more than 300 customers placed orders and the Bistro realized record profits on its opening day earlier this month.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The marketing campaign was designed to be beneficial for UMA members and culinary students. Miller knows that most of his students would like to start their own business after graduation, so being in a real-world situation will propel them to learn more about selling the food rather than just cooking it.
According to Miller, one of his desires was to create a “product they’d be excited about communicating to our target demographic — the student body of BJU.”
Planning the Marketing Menu
The plan took root during the summer when Miller proposed the project to me, the UMA president. At the opening UMA meeting, I told those interested in helping out with the Bistro that it would be a full semester commitment but having the campaign on their resume could help get their foot in the door for an internship.
The Bistro campaign members met for a “Tasting and Brainstorming” session, then divided into four teams: Content, Social Media, Design and Data.
Asa Cropsey, the data team lead, said that “being given the opportunity to build relationships with people I wouldn’t otherwise interact with is an awesome experience.”
Culinary students are also involved in the campaign, and several have become UMA members because they realized that business and marketing go hand-in-hand.
Cutting it Close
Teams had one week to get the campaign up and running. It was quite a ride watching everyone scramble but somehow making everything come together at quite literally, the last minute.
The social media team dived right into pushing the Bistro’s brand on Instagram with pictures, tasting videos and graphics. The design team created a beautiful menu with full descriptions from Miller along with decorating the building to look like a Parisian café. The content team filmed kitchen prep and the long line of customers to create a commercial-grade promotional video. The data team gathered surveys and transactions to start gathering trends and analyze what customers ordered.
What to Order?
Guests arrived 15 minutes early and the line didn’t dwindle until well past closing time. In order to truly set the mood, fresh flowers were placed at each table, lights were strung in the trees and music streamed inside and outside the venue.
Customers buzzed with energy as they scanned the custom menu deciding if they wanted a juicy brisket hoagie, a kickin’ Caribbean jerk chicken wrap or even a slice of decadent chocolate silk pie.
Miller was elated to see such a high number of customers for the first of the weekly lunches. In the short time that the Bistro has been open, the UMA and culinary arts students alike have seen tremendous results from their hard work.