Bright Blue student-run marketing agency sees success in first year of operation

Lacy School of Business and College of Communication creates start-up marketing agency, Bright Blue.


Since its creation last spring, Bright Blue, the student-run marketing agency, has captured several clients and is on its way to being self-sustainable.

Bright Blue is a product of Lacy School of Business and College of Communication. The company provides semester-long paid internships and hands-on opportunities for a small group of students to work in an actual marketing firm.

Each student intern at the company is personally responsible for one or two clients at a time. The students are expected to interact with customers and satisfy their marketing needs.

Just over a month into the fall semester, Bright Blue already has five secured clients. During the entire summer term, Bright Blue secured two clients. The company has six more leads on potential clients this semester as well.

Senior marketing major Maggie Sullivan is the CEO of Bright Blue this semester. Sullivan said she likes the fun and creative aspects of being able to manage clients on your own.

“We’re all independently accountable for our work, our deadlines and interacting with customers,” Sullivan said. “If you don’t meet your deadline, it’s on you.”

The company is led by two faculty advisors — Joe Ellsworth, retired owner of a marketing and communications agency and Jenn Truitt, consultant for the Butler Business Consulting Group — and a small executive team of student employees. The executive team comprises five students who each hold specific positions on top of managing one or two client accounts.

Ellsworth explained how the faculty and students decided on two main goals for the startup.

“We want this to be a really rich learning opportunity for the students that participate in it,” Ellsworth said. “We want them to know what it’s like to be involved and to be in a true startup business. We want this to function as much like a real business would be.”

Besides the two current faculty advisors, the startup is completely student-run. Ellsworth explained that the students are doing much more hands-on work in this third semester of Bright Blue than in the company’s first semester.

“We want to do really good work for the clients,” Ellsworth said. “We want to have really happy clients. We’re looking for somebody who has a true need and is expecting a professional quality deliverable from us. We want to be able to deliver to them something that would be comparable to what they would get from a professional agency on the outside market.”

James Dombro, junior entrepreneurship and innovation and management information systems major, is Bright Blue’s technology specialist and marketing strategist.

“We’ve been really, really lucky as far as having good team members and good cooperation internally,” Dombro said.

Some of Bright Blue’s tasks when working with clients include market research, creative design projects and branding and communication strategy.

Clients range from LSB professors who own an independent business consulting practice to Indianapolis orthodontists and medical diagnostic companies.

“It makes me feel more involved with the college of business and Butler overall,” Sullivan said

The company’s goal by 2018 is to be fully self-sustainable. Bright Blue is currently sponsored by LSB and CCOM, but hopes to produce enough revenue starting next year to run on its own.

Students in Bright Blue hope the company grows beyond appealing to just CCOM and LSB students to other majors and departments at Butler.

“This is something that I think could apply to other students and majors in Butler… having a student-run organization and having it operate and make revenue,” Sullivan said. “We need to push to get the word out, but that’s fine. We’re all determined and ready.”


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