Archive for October, 2010

The Social Media Forum

October 28th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

At the beginning of October, I was invited to attend the Social Media Forum here at Smith, sponsored by our Center for Excellence in Service. As you know, social media has been receiving a TON of hype these days, even spawning a major motion picture about the start of Facebook starring popstar Justin Timberlake. But the big question that we business students and professionals care about is what does social media really mean for companies? Do all businesses need to take part or is it only for certain types? Then, on a more practical level, what exactly are companies supposed to be doing in the social media space?  The Social Media Forum sought to explore some of these questions by bringing in top talent from a variety of companies and industries, along with relevant research conducted by Smith’s own marketing faculty.

The main part of the day began with Chris Boudreaux, Senior VP of Management Consulting at Converseon. Chris talked about integrating social media into CRM (customer relationship management). He explained that brands do not have control over all consumer touch points like they used to before social media. Most companies are just beginning to embrace this fact and are excited about the prospects that social media appears to bring. For me, Chris’ most memorable point was that many people look at social media like a “free puppy.” At first, it seems super exciting and seems like a lot of fun. Then, as time progresses, you realize how much work it is to train and make it a part of your household. It can still be very rewarding, but it’s not all fun- it takes work. Chris also emphasized the importance of “listening” to the social media dialogue and the applicable technologies available to help companies do so effectively.

The second part of the day consisted of a panel discussion, moderated by Professor David Godes from Smith. The panelists included Don Steele from MTV, Susan Thronson from Marriott International, Alexandra Nicholson from USA Today, and David Berkowitzfrom 360i. David talked about having a “social media playbook” that oulines your goals, assets, and what the value exchange will be for consumers that engage with you through social media. Susan from Marriott described her reasoning for not wanting a social media strategy. She explained how her plan was to have one strategy for Marriott with social media playing an integral role. Also, Alexandra from USA Today talked about achieving “small wins” in social media and not failing big. Her plan is to “socialize everything” at USA Today and she gave vivid examples of how they have leveraged social media with their reporters in the field.

When asked what is next for social media, many of the panelists named mobile technology advancements as the thing to watch. I immediately remembered a recent article from the NY Times I had read about television commericals that are supposed to be launching this fall that will have barcodes that people can scan from home with their blackberries for special offers. It’s definitely exciting to think of the capabilities marketers will have in the very near future to take their communications efforts to the next level. I’m glad to be along for the ride!

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Term A- done!

October 20th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I just finished up my first term of my 2nd year (that’s half a semester or seven weeks, in case you were wondering). Lucky for me, I didn’t have any finals either, like many of my classmates. The only two classes that I finished up were Marketing Analysis (see my post below) and Marketing for Social Value. My Negotiations class continues for the rest of the semester and I am adding Brand Management, Market Research Methods, and International Economics for the next term.

Marketing for Social Value was a really cool class, by the way. I originally thought it was an elective designed for the “Net Impact” crew here on campus. But, it’s really not. (I’m actually a member of Net Impact, but I just feel like I’m on the tail end of the movement, trying to catch up!) The class covers perspectives from the non-profit- like trying to change a behavior, goverment regulation, etc.  We also looked at the corporate side- how to develop the right strategic partners, how or when to publicize your “good works,” and more.  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become such a “must-do” that it really seems imperative that all marketers give it some attention, even if you not particularly interested in making a difference in the community.

Our title slide for our final presentation

The class ended with group presentations of marketing campaigns designed to change a specific behavior. My group chose to create a campaign designed to get more women between the ages of 18-34 to purchase and intiate the use of condoms- kind of a twist on a traditional safe sex campaign. We found a ton a research to support our idea on women’s pereptions, attitudes, and behaviors regarding condoms. It actually turned out to be a pretty fun project to work on- my team worked together really well. We even had a few classmates tell us we should present our ideas to the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship to make it a reality! So we’ll see…if you read a story about 3 MBAs that made it big from their final project in a marketing class…it’ll be about us!

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ENFJ- that's me.

October 14th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

This semester I am taking Executive Power & Negotiations with Dr. Joyce Russell. Apparently, I really NEED this class…because I don’t like asking for things or negotiating. That fact is a little strange because I have a sales background. I think I mainly used my relationships and personality to make deals, rather than real negotiation techniques. I’m not sure, but I’m getting sidetracked …back to the point.

So, at the beginning of the class, Dr. Russell gives her students a few personality assessments, one of which is the infamous Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  My results were Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging.

Based on what the description says about ENFJs, I’d say the MBTI is pretty accurate. I am “highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.” Makes me sound pretty good!

Some areas of development I may have: may need to learn to manage conflict productively, may need to recognize the limitations of people and guard against unquestioning loyalty, and may need to pay as much attention to the details of the task as the people involved.

It’s funny because all of us that are taking the class right now (probably about half the 2nd years), are always asking people their type, and then characterizing their behaviors thereafter. “You are being such a J right now!” MBA humor I guess…our entertainment comes from the most random sources.

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A World without Quantitative Skills…

October 7th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

does not exist for MBA grads. I, along with my classmates and every other person out there with an MBA, am supposed to have these things— these quantitative skills! I need to be able to look at mountains of data, in various forms, and come up with the stuff that really matters– insights. And there’s a reason why it’s called a skill. Not everyone can do it! (Not everyone can do it well, at least. )

The first semester of most MBA programs is chock full of classes that hone these skills. Here at Smith, the most infamous of these classes is Data Models and Decisions, referred to as DMD. And I have to say…I learned so much in that class, but I was also seeing  statistical models in my sleep because the class was so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever studied that much in my life! You can imagine how ecstatic I was to have completed the class (with an A I might add) and to move on with my life.

But no.

Introducing Marketing Analysis- a class I’m taking this semester, and, the reason for this post.  This class is very cool and full of great content. But…it’s not that easy. I might even say it’s hard! In class, I keep hearing things from DMD and all I can think about is how I shouldn’t have lent my DMD book to my sister in Atlanta because I could really use it this term. I’m making it work though.

So far we’ve been working with all kinds of data and types of decisions. We’ve looked at data from an eye-tracking study to gauge the best placement for ads in a magazine along with how the ad should be laid out. Also, we’ve conducted a conjoint analysis to choose the optimal features of a new coffee maker to bring to market. My last assignment involves mining through a large data set to find some valuable insights for a banking center. Good stuff, definitely.

Regression Analysis!!!

So, I’ve come to terms with the fact that quantitative skills are not just something I have to learnto be qualified. I’m going to be living and breathing this stuff. And while I still wouldn’t characterize it as “easy,” Marketing Analysis has brought everything back to Earth for me and made it way more tangible. Concluding advice to incoming MBAs: don’t try to escape it.

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