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Centaur Theatre’s limited marketing budget gets an outsized reach thanks to JMSB

Multi-disciplinary team of MBA students gets hands-on experience, offering consulting services to local businesses
May 1, 2018
By Yuri Mytko & Patrick Lejtenyi

When Montreal’s small but vibrant English-language Centaur Theatre Company wanted to figure out how to best reach out to young audiences, its executive and artistic director Eda Holmes turned to the Concordia Small Business Consulting Bureau at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB).

“We really needed to know more about our audience and how we’re seen,” she says.

The bureau, overseen by Alexandra Dawson, an associate professor in the Department of Management, is made up of five select students from the John Molson MBA program. The initiative provides them with real-life, professionally-oriented challenges before they enter the workforce.

While Dawson guides the team and helps them prepare for client meetings, the students do the lion’s share of the work independently. “The students are really thrown into the deep end,” says Dawson.

The result is bespoke, professional, client-oriented service for a fraction of the price it would cost otherwise. Fees are well below what is offered on the open consulting market.

“We’re a small company without a lot of resources,” says Holmes. “Alexandra and her team put a program together that we could afford.”

Aleksey Cameron, one of the student-consultants, says the theatre approached the bureau with a marketing mandate focused on positioning, increasing subscriptions and attracting younger theatre-goers.

“This was a really interesting project and a fantastic learning experience,” says Cameron.

According to Cameron, the team’s multi-disciplinary backgrounds contributed to how they approached the project.

“We had limited knowledge of the theatre scene. We’re a diverse group, coming from the medical, finance, entrepreneurship and oil and gas sectors. We combined our experiences and collective knowledge, along with what we learned in class to get a great outcome.”

The students presented their recommendations to the Centaur in February and the theatre is already acting on them.

“The report has given us some great ways to assess our overall approach to marketing and communications and will definitely serve as a model for our plans going forward,” says Holmes.

Dawson says this project embodies the program’s raison d’etre. “Our MBA program is very much about providing hands-on experiences, and the Concordia Small Business Consulting Bureau couples that with helping a local enterprise. Our students benefit and so does the community. It really is win-win.”

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