(Wall Street Journal) — Carolyn Starks admits she didn’t know the first thing about marketing when she launched her own business last year. But she also couldn’t afford expert help. Previously laid off from a reporting job at a daily newspaper, Ms. Starks says a friend working at nearby Elmhurst College just outside Chicago offered to introduce her to faculty in the school’s marketing department, knowing it has a program that matches students with small businesses in need of support. The introduction paid off. For the next five months, Ms. Starks, 49, met once a week with two senior marketing majors to identify low-cost ways to promote her start-up, a publishing firm called Storybuilders Books. In between, the students would do research on Ms. Starks’s target audience — preadolescent girls — to come up with relevant ideas. A professor at the school oversaw the project.