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Toomey Uses Data-Driven Insights to Market Local Children's Bookstore

Students Write Research Based-Marketing Plan in Capstone Course
by Matthew Strasburger, University Communication and Marketing, and Kimberly Smith
Toomey Uses Data-Driven Insights to Market Local Children's Bookstore
Grace Toomey and a team of marketing majors developed a marketing plan for Elleinad Books, a local children's bookstore. The hands-on experience is part of the marketing major's capstone course called Marketing Management.

As part of the marketing major's capstone course called Marketing Management (MRKT 442), students worked with local business owners to create marketing plans for their small businesses. Among their options, May graduate Grace Toomey was struck by the local children’s bookstore Elleinad Books and its owner Danielle Eby’s community-minded approach to small business.

For Toomey, using her and her classmates’ marketing expertise to provide data-driven insights into how Eby, '11, could market her local business seemed like the perfect culmination of her time at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business.

“I really resonated with Danielle’s idea of a children’s bookstore — she just seemed really cool, and I could feel how her personality was injected into her business,” Toomey said. “My team and I thought it seemed like a great endeavor for all of us.”

The class allows students to choose a local business that needs marketing assistance and help them develop a research-based marketing plan. Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, lines up business owners who are interested in participating.

Women stands behind her bookstore counter.
Danielle Eby, owner of Elleinad Books, said she appreciated the opportunity to work with students from her alma mater and "would be happy to participate again."

"In my capstone marketing class, we create opportunities for all the students to experience working on a marketing plan for real clients like Elleinad Books," he said. "Danielle, who is one of our marketing alumni, heard about this opportunity from Alexis Wingert, who has worked with students in this course over the past few semesters for her charcuterie business called Grazing Gouda. I appreciate her referral as it shows our students are getting positive results for these business owners."

The opportunity to work with students at her alma mater attracted Eby to approach Simon for the opportunity.

"As a marketing alum, it was fun to be on the other side of the coin to be a client, sharing my business and what I've been able to create for the Lincoln community. It was great to bounce ideas I've had but hadn't had the time to move forward with because of the time commitment involved," said Eby.

Over the spring semester, Toomey and her five group members — Rachel Hoffschneider, Kelsey Meyer, A.J. Nagatani, Rose Olivares Zepeda and Jennifer Reiser— developed a comprehensive marketing strategy for Elleinad Books, Lincoln's only independent children's bookstore.

“We went to her bookstore in South Lincoln and visited with her, learned what she needed and talked about how best we could help her,” Toomey said of their initial meeting. “Danielle had a goal to increase foot traffic, so a lot of our work was focused on that."

To address this, the students brainstormed several promotional strategies.

“We came up with little mystery boxes for her to sell and to help bring people in, as well as promotional efforts like advertisement mockups she could use and put around town.”

Throughout the semester, the group maintained close communication with Eby, adjusting their strategies based on her feedback and the results of their research.

"I enjoyed hearing their fresh ideas," said Eby. "Opportunities like this challenge students in a way that gets them out of the classroom and into the community to help conceptualize ideas for existing businesses."

The experience of working directly with a small business owner in her hometown was an invaluable end to Toomey’s time as a Husker.

“It was cool to see how we could apply what we’d been learning in class to actually help a real person and their small business,” she said. “It was the first time I felt like I was using my degree to make a tangible difference.”

Published: June 27, 2024