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The New Workforce: A Quiet Cancer Fighter is Finding its Voice

From the spring 2013 issue of OPEN, the McCombs School of Business magazine.

Cancer Therapy and Research CenterCancer can corrupt the body in more than 100 different ways. With 1.6 million new cases projected for 2013, physicians and researchers are in high demand to fight the disease.

The Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC) in San Antonio offers comprehensive care for patients throughout central and south Texas and northern Mexico, but many patients and doctors don’t know it exists. Without the name recognition of Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center and lacking internal marketing resources, CTRC, which is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, turned to a group of Texas MBA students for a new marketing strategy.

“Nothing happens until a prospective patient walks in the door,” says Mark Watson, a member of the CTRC Foundation’s board of directors, who first approached the McCombs School for help. “And to serve people at the level we want, they’ve got to find out about us.”

Marketing department chair Wayne Hoyer and lecturer John Highbarger assembled a team of seven students to evaluate CTRC’s current marketing practices and identify the largest improvement areas. 

“People don’t realize that San Antonio has one of the finest centers in the world, and that’s a marketing problem,” Hoyer says.

The student team’s plan developed a new tagline for the center and ideas for a more user-friendly website and ongoing social media campaign. They encouraged CTRC to increase public outreach through patient surveys, advertisements, and fundraising events, as well as to establish personal relationships with local physicians to improve the referral program.

CTRC’s Watson says he was impressed with the proposals and is championing them to the foundation and the board of directors. 

Team member Janet Mozaffari says the experience gave her frontline exposure to marketing details, from identifying the problem, to targeting audiences, to creating tactics. “It was cool to work on a project from start to finish,” she says.

A finish that—hopefully—means more patients realize the care they need is closer than they realized.

"The New Workforce" is a series reporting on how McCombs students are making a difference for companies through consulting projects, internships, and other real-world, hands-on efforts.

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