Marketing Monks: Benedictine College Students Travel to Help St. Benedict’s Hometown Abbey

Please don’t tweet or post this story! The monks pictured above do not want to appear on social media. They do, however, want to sell their products online. How will they do that?

A group of students just returned to Atchison, Kansas, from visiting these monks in Norcia, Italy, St. Benedict’s hometown, to try to answer that question.

The Student International Business Council (SIBC) at Benedictine College formed an SIBC Monks of Norcia Team to help monks who want to market, advertise, and promote their beer without the use of certain social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook ads, Google ads, tracking and other means. The monks are open to learning about podcasting, YouTube and blogging.

Students presented to the monks on ways to navigate marketing online.

“Traveling to Norcia, Italy to visit and work with the Benedictine monks truly changed my life,” said  St. Louis junior Margaret Hodge. It exposed her to “the beauty of the monastic life,” she said.

“The project was challenging. Instead of looking for customers and business partners, the monks wanted to build connections with small media platforms that share similar Catholic values, she said.

Benedictine College Law and International Business Professor Madeline Rogers and Student Project Leader Michael Dickson made the program possible. She is Executive Director of the Student International Business Council and he is the Student President of SIBC. Together they helped organize the trip with other SIBC students.

“Benedictine College is one of three campuses nationally that host a Student International Business Council,” she said. “Our mission is ‘peace through commerce.’ The Norcia opportunity was a great example of what we do for members: Providing entrepreneurial experience through humanitarian projects, public speaking and networking skills while traveling.”

Hodge said the program gave her a new insight. “Marketing is not simply about expanding one’s business. It can be focused towards building partnerships and sharing messages with people. Creating this connection with the Benedictine monks in Norcia through our project is hopefully something I will carry with me for life.”

Michael Dickson, a senior from Shreveport, La., said the project was an eye opening introduction to “a foreign culture of both business and community.”

“The ability to conduct a semester of research followed by travel into the mountains of Italy was a wonderfully unique opportunity. The culture, lifestyle, and dedication of the monks heightened my interest in their lives of prayer, work, and silence,” he said.

Rosemary Williams, a senior from Katy, Texas, said, “During my visit to Italy, I not only got to experience the beauty of the monastic community we worked with, but the beauty and history of the country itself.”

She said “I was immersed into the culture and really got a feel for the way of life that differs so drastically from my own.”

Working with people in a different culture and lifestyle was a big challenge, she said. “I learned so much and really stepped into my own on this trip. It was so unique to SIBC! On most trips and business ventures I have been on, I never had to step up as much as this trip asked me to. My teammates and friends depended on me and we were all in a mostly unfamiliar place, having to figure out the customs and situations by ourselves.”