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San Diego State University

Fowler College of
Business Administration

SDSU Students Develop Successful Program for San Diego Symphony

Five women in business attire

From Left: Meghann Boyd, Courtney Koscheka, Leah Weston, Adrienne White, Audrianna Talavera

When the San Diego Symphony wanted to attract young professionals to their concerts, they engaged five SDSU graduate business students for advice. Students Meghann Boyd, Courtney Koscheka, Audrianna Talavera, Leah Weston, and Adrienne White took on the challenge as part of their Business Administration 795 course under the instruction of management professor Dr. John Francis and marketing professor Dr. Don Sciglimpaglia.

The student team first explored the marketing strategies and programs for other North American symphonies, as well as organizations that targeted young professionals by conducting focus groups and in-depth interviews with symphonies and other art-affiliated organizations. After three months of research, the team presented a marketing plan to Stephen Baker, the senior director of the San Diego Symphony.

"I was immediately impressed with the depth of information in their proposal regarding what motivates young professionals to attend a symphony concert or cultural presentation," said Baker. "They got to the heart of what particular elements are most important to [the young professionals]. They also scored and evaluated programs locally and nationally to develop best practices in successfully reaching and developing this audience."

Baker was impressed with the team's results – so much so that he implemented many of their suggestions and the Encore SDS Series launched on October 10, 2012.

The launch of the Encore SDS Series did not add concerts to the symphony's already full schedule, however, a thorough review of the schedule revealed eight concerts that would be of interest to a younger audience. These concerts were marketed to young professionals at the affordable price of $15 per ticket along with an after-concert mixer for all Encore SDS invitees that include a free drink and appetizers back stage.

The results of the first concert, on October 11, show major promise and the symphony staff will monitor the progress of the campaign to make any necessary adjustments.

One of the members of the symphony staff making those adjustments is also one of the students who developed the program. "After they completed and presented their findings, Courtney Koscheka contacted me expressing an interest in working here at the symphony," said Baker.

It turned out to be a good fit. Baker hired Koscheka as the symphony's marketing production coordinator to carry out already established duties and to carry on with the work initiated by the SDSU team by continuing to develop new audiences.