Leigh Sensi, the content marketing manager at Stoneside, wrote this blog post. She is the daughter of Glenn MacDonald, the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Strategy at Olin. MacDonald teaches Research and Industry Analysis, a course for economics and strategy majors.
Stoneside, a custom window treatment company based in Denver, has benefitted greatly from its partnership with Olin. Since 2018, students have helped Stoneside enhance and expand its business.
In 2018, Stoneside had its first case competition with students in the Research in Industry Analysis class. The students made valuable suggestions about the look, feel and functionality of Stoneside’s website. They also provided insights about community partnerships and demographics targeting.
The next year, Stoneside launched its new marketing website, which significantly outperformed its previous site. The company also adjusted its demographic targeting to fit each group more individually.
That year, 2019, was also the first year of Stoneside’s internship program. An Olin student was selected to spend the summer in Denver, working at Stoneside’s headquarters with the marketing group. Over the summer, the student’s work with Stoneside helped to launch a social media referral program for customers and to improve tracking business leads.
Stoneside plans to resume and expand its internship program as soon as conditions are conducive to student travel.
Stoneside has also participated in several years of the Olin course Empirical Techniques in Industry Analysis to assist students in learning various data analysis methods. Through those projects, Olin helped Stoneside select potential geographic areas for expansion and to determine the optimal capacity for resources in each area.
The year 2020 was shaping up to be Stoneside’s best year ever, with a record-breaking January and February in the books. When March hit, and the spread of COVID-19 rendered in-person business unsafe, Stoneside had to pivot its business model quickly.
Stoneside shifted from going to people’s homes and businesses to a virtual experience. What resulted was a new method where Stoneside’s designers walk through the home over a video call, show the customer products and materials via a digital asset management system, and deliver fabric swatches to help clients visualize the end result. Now Stoneside has combined its virtual and in-home experience into a hybrid model that utilizes in-person business when possible, as well as virtual tools to create a cohesive, immersive experience for clients.
With all of this going on, Stoneside recognized its need to keep thinking about the long term. In April 2020, Olin’s Research in Industry Analysis students helped Stoneside think beyond COVID-19 with suggestions for industry partners, innovative media tactics, and strategies to expand its commercial offerings. In turn, Stoneside was able to continue to support Olin students during a difficult period of transition.
Stoneside will be participating in this spring’s Research in Industry Analysis case competition and plans to ask the students to think of ways Stoneside can reach more potential customers through direct mail, email and any other creative tactics the students can dream up.
Stoneside looks forward to hearing what Olin’s inventive minds come up with this year and to continuing its partnership with Olin in the years to come.