Iowa Small Businesses Find Support Through Panther Business HQ
Written by: Michael McCauley
October 26, 2020
In this day and age there is something every business needs, but may not have the necessary understanding of how to create and portray. Can you guess what this may be? - If you said digital marketing and advertising, you are right! Panther Business Headquarter (Panther Biz HQ) students at the University of Northern Iowa have been able to help bring marketing and digital advertising services to Iowa small businesses whose digital marketing and advertising may be lacking.
The Panther Biz HQ is a student run program that started in 2018 through UNI’s economic development outreach. Since starting, the program has been
able to assist 38 small businesses with their marketing goals. Under the management of Patrick Luensmann in the Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI), UNI students are able to create marketing and digital advertising campaigns for local and state-wide Iowa businesses.
Panther Biz HQ was formed out of a need for digital marketing assistance from small business clients. It creates a diversified learning experience for business students. The program works to support businesses with marketing operations by compiling, formatting, and
reporting industry-related trends in order to reach the specific goals of
the client. Students are able to work on real-world projects while in the classroom, discover new passions, and even begin to shape their career decisions as future business professionals.
These UNI business student employees have formed meaningful and lasting relationships with small businesses locally and state-wide. Manager of Panther Biz HQ, Luensmann, stated, “Panther Biz HQ has helped the team grow as business professionals, and they have built some great relationships with business owners across Iowa. The relationships with our clients are mutually beneficial: we use what we know and research to help them and they always teach us about the business world in return.” The mutual benefit that Luensmann mentions is what community engagement is all about.
Students have experienced tremendous accomplishments through their work with Panther Biz HQ. In addition to boosting student confidence for future employment opportunities, businesses have seen an increase in digital media growth. The overall goal of Panther Biz HQ is to see continued networking development across the state of Iowa and for business students to have an extensive look into business, specifically business marketing.
One client success story involves JRS Photo Restoration and Scanning in Denver, IA. JRS owners, Ed and JoAnne Blumenshine, have owned JRS Photo Scanning and Restoration since 1978. Prior to their experience with the Panther Biz HQ they had never had an online presence. Students from the Panther Biz HQ toured their shop, learned about their journey as a company, and got an understanding of JRS’s current marketing strategies. The Panther Biz HQ team rebranded the business and created an online presence for them. They put together Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as connected them with web development students at UNI that created their website for them. The team assisted JRS in creating content, running paid ads on Facebook, and created a logo for them as well. To check-out some of the students work, visit these pages: JRS Facebook Page JRS Instagram Page JRS Website
Since working with the Panther Biz HQ, the JRS Facebook Page has been able to reach 262 prospective customers. The combined online presence has generated several sales leads for JRS and has increased their company exposure. The Panther Biz HQ also provided them with a detailed report, giving them step by step instructions on how to keep up with their online presence.
Another client success story pertains to Premier Furniture & Equipment. In March of 2019,
the Panther Biz HQ team connected with Roger Johnson at Premier Furniture & Equipment. Roger’s business provides custom, innovative furniture and equipment to K-12 educational facilities. The team had the opportunity to visit the Premier warehouse and were ecstatic to begin working with a driven, collaborative company. Roger was interested in a report to optimize his company’s current website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Students also provided ideas on content, and how to’s for different social media features.
After working with Panther Biz HQ, the Premier Furniture & Equipment Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have seen an increase in engagement. More people are learning about Premier’s hard work and accomplishments and the products they have to sell. Panther B
iz HQ has recently been given the opportunity to help Premier Furniture & Equipment as their permanent social media operators.
Panther Biz HQ is making strides in community engagement through lasting, marketing impact for small businesses across the state of Iowa. To work with Panther Biz HQ, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and complete a brief questionnaire. The Panther BizHQ team will then meet with you to go over your digital marketing needs.
Luensmann stated, “As long as there is a passion to help promote small businesses at UNI there will be a Panther Biz HQ.” Student and small business success is the mission behind Panther Business Headquarters and the community engagement efforts from the Center for Business Growth and Innovation is the key factor in allowing for a wholesome network.