A North Texas ranch that helps people and animals when other therapies fail received some help itself from a group of University of North Texas marketing students.
Founder Bob Williams started Ranch Hand Rescue as a combined rescue facility for animals and counseling center for trauma survivors who don’t respond well to traditional therapy. The organization’s mission is strong, but as many small nonprofits with limited budgets understand, marketing resources are limited.
The ranch provides free counseling and animal-assisted therapy to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, abused children, battered women, rape and human trafficking victims and others with mental health issues. It also serves as a rescue sanctuary, and the human clients care for severely abused and neglected animals.
“Some people will tell an animal something before they tell a person,” said Williams. “There is something very calming and beautiful about this unconditional love from these animals that can’t take care of themselves.”
To help the ranch, teams of marketing students enrolled in an Applied Marketing Problems course created business plans to help Ranch Hand Rescue deal with its biggest issues: how to expand throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region, how to make the brand recognizable and how to improve the message of what it does.
“I’ve gotten to apply what I’ve been learning, and it’s very rewarding to be able to say I’ve helped rebrand this organization that touches you personally,” said Robin Kelley, UNT senior majoring in marketing.
The students presented their concepts to the organization in April, and Williams and his team were nothing short of impressed. “The passion of the students to help us with our rebranding, messaging and planning was one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received. The research, the creativity and development of a new direction in how we market and present ourselves to the public was comprehensive and quite frankly, as good as any firm we could have hired,” said Williams.
The experience made a tremendous impact, not only on Ranch Hand Rescue, but also on the students who gained added value by thinking through real-world marketing solutions.