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Changing their tune: NMSU students to create a new marketing plan for Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra

A venerable institution in Las Cruces could soon have a new look, thanks to students at New Mexico State University.


Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra logo
Marketing students at NMSU's College of Business are working on a new marketing campaign for the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, which may include a new logo. (Logo provided by the Las Cruces Symphony Association)

The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, which is housed on the NMSU campus, has approached the marketing department at the College of Business to help freshen up its marketing campaign.

"We thought it would be great to get some new, fresh ideas," said Katie Tomicek, executive director of the Las Cruces Symphony Association. "It is a challenging project in that much of our clientele is older. We will be trying to challenge students in the ways in which we start to use things like social media and how that works with our clientele. I thought if they could figure that out, they could figure out anything."

On the case are students from Michelle Jasso's upper level promotion management class.

"The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra board is very open to change," said Jasso, an associate professor of marketing. "For the symphony to be able to say that its marketing plan was designed locally and by NMSU students is, I think, a good way to go."

Tomicek said the organization hopes the students can create a total marketing plan that will include not only social media, but also an updated logo, a brochure for prospective donors, program guides and fundraising events.

"For about six or seven years, we were 100 percent sold out," Tomicek said. "In the last four years we still do very, very well with our subscription sales, but we slipped to about 93 percent sold out. So we're starting to think that we need to get out into the community and get a little bit more active in what we're doing. We also want to increase a lot of our programming, as far as our educational outreach and of course bringing people into that, because a lot of people aren't even aware that we do these kinds of activities.

"I think we are just trying to be a bit more proactive, given that the New Mexico Symphony in Albuquerque folded," she added. "So we're just trying to keep on top of things and not wait until we're in dire straits."

Jasso has split her students into nine teams and they are competing against each other to come up with the winning campaign. Work on the project already is underway. While past promotion management classes also have been tasked with developing marketing campaigns for real-world entities, Jasso said this year's class is facing a special challenge.

"Most of the time, the client is trying to target college students," Jasso said. "Even when we did a government agency, they were trying to recruit engineering majors and science majors to work for the government instead of going into industry. But this time our target market is as different as can be from a college student."

Jasso's students are being asked to develop new marketing tools and ideas for the symphony, while also respecting an organization that started as a small community orchestra in 1962. For the 2011-2012 season, the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra is expected to reach more than 23,000 people through 12 classical concerts, two pops performances, a chamber concert and a variety of educational outreach programs.

"As far as changing the logo, we'll see how it goes," Jasso said. "Usually change is difficult for something that is so traditional and so community-based. Some people may not be as happy about the changes. It's an older population and they may not be as open to change. But we are going to try to keep it traditional and at the same time change some of the logo's features."

The agreed upon goal is an elegant logo that retains the current color scheme of silver and crimson.

"That's going to be the biggest challenge for the students, but they can adapt," Jasso said. "When they graduate they are going to have to market very different products to very different market segments. This is a good experience for them to do this within the bounds of the university. They can try this now and it's a good way to prepare for the real world."

Along with keeping current patrons happy, Tomicek and Jasso hope the students also will help the orchestra broaden its base by creating a marketing plan that attracts young professionals.

The student teams will be putting their marketing plans together through April, with the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra board of directors selecting the winner in May. However, because the symphony needs to get out promotional material for the 2012-2013 season within the next two months, Tomicek said complete implementation of the new marketing plan likely would not take place until the 2013-2014 season.

While one team will be declared the overall winner, Jasso said it is possible for a client to use ideas from the other teams as well.

"We're very excited," Tomicek said. "I think this is a win-win both for the students and us. Like Dr. Jasso said, it will be a great challenge for the students."