screenshot of image from Isenberg website

Aiming for a national reputation

The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship was created in 2014 by a $10 million gift to the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Their mission: to serve as a hub for entrepreneurs both on campus and across the region. The center aims to build a national reputation for supporting on-campus ventures and catalyzing the local entrepreneurship ecosphere through innovative programs and inspiring events. Berthiaume’s team asked Clarity to help them create and execute a marketing and communications strategy that will further these ambitious goals.

Starting from zero

Using the Clarity model, our team undertook extended interviews with representative students, faculty, administrators, local entrepreneurs, and the center’s own leadership. We also researched other entrepreneurship centers and the entrepreneurial space in higher ed. The resulting Clarity Brand Study identified key audience segments and a brand position that was relevant to all of them: “Inspiration. Connection. Realization.” The study also identified core messaging that could express this brand promise to specific audience segments.

On this strong new foundation, the Clarity team built out a content strategy and editorial calendar, a reimagined website, and a process for promoting events, programs, and competitions.

Eight months in, solid results

Just eight months after Clarity started the project, attendance at recurring events like Idea Jams has grown six-fold, and attendance at new events like Social Entrepreneurship Day has far exceeded expectations. Social media activity is growing steadily, and a nascent newsletter campaign has consistent open rates of 30 to 40 percent. Perhaps the best indicator of our results is that, as the director of a local accelerator told us, “The word on the entrepreneurial streets is that ‘the giant is waking up’ – that UMass Amherst entrepreneurship is starting to do some really cool things.”

Building in-house capacity

While managing all this, the Clarity team has also trained two of the Berthiaume Center staff to execute the strategy in-house moving forward. We are now transitioning from driving 100 percent of the content to serving only as advisors. We’ve also been educating senior faculty and additional staff on how to support and work with a professional communications strategy.

Clarity’s largest contribution to the Berthiaume Center may be the development of its own marketing and communications agency, known as BuzzBuilders. Staffed by and run by students, BuzzBuilders is in year one of a three-year process designed to build a sustainable and successful program as a joint venture of the center and the university’s journalism program. We ran a pilot program that trained four interns who are now taking increasingly active roles in client communications, content creation, and creative direction.

“Clarity’s work with the Berthiaume Center has been truly invaluable. We weren’t sure where to begin, and Clarity not only got us started, they helped us with redoing our website and devising our content strategy, and worked with our staff to train them to take over. We couldn’t have done it without Clarity.”

Bill Wooldridge

Managing Director, Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship