February 10, 2013

Strategic marketing and the environment

Day 2 of Marketing in Rome.

We opened the day with loads of models and concepts around strategic marketing. Since the discipline of marketing apparently has no formal rules, it seems that various approaches can be taken (with sufficient justification) to address an organisational issue.

Understanding what a business does, where it is and the environment it operates in is a key requirement to performing any type of planning. A case study of an anonymous retail and fashion brand facing a clash between traditional management practices, autocracy, product focus with no market understanding, and severe lack of retail staff service or training sparked a great discussion of organisational behaviour and strategic (internal and external) marketing concepts.

Part 2 of the day covered a Xerox case study. Faced with the switch to digital document management and distribution around the turn of the millennium and the later recession, the company has had to react and change their products and services, as well as their approach to understanding how consumers want to make document management more convenient.

Understanding the customer was key, as is echoed by Sophie Vanderbroek (Xerox CTO) who argued that their goal was "involving experts who know the technology with customers who know the pain points..." The case study provided a good platform to discuss marketing environment concepts - micro environmental actors (customer, competitors, suppliers, etc) and macro environmental forces (technological-, economic- and cultural changes, etc).

Two takeaways for the day:

  1. The parcel and the wall - a way to understand circumstances in which certain flex is required to get the result you desire.
  2. Understand the actors and forces in the environment, in an attempt to foresee how the environment could change in future.

February 09, 2013

So, what is Marketing?

Day 1 of WBS Marketing, onsite in Rome.

Around 50 semester 1 and 2 MBA scholars were introduced to the concept of Marketing by Lloyd Harris of Warwick Business School. The definitions, challenges, myths and contexts were introduced, and discussed with much debate in smaller syndicate groups.

Hearing how a mining company in Africa considered marketing an immature function in their business, while facing challenges of avoiding business activities with sanctioned territories, provided a stark constrast to my background in the software industry.

Hearing about the desire of a non-profit medical practitioner council to obtain the human capital and funding to support some sort of marketing effort was then compared to the structure of a mobile telecommunications provider in the UK, with their thousands of marketeers supporting highly competitive campaigns.

A case study on Pegasus Airlines, the Turkish Superbrand, explored concepts of product, customer, value, sustainability and also introduced six marketing management concepts: the product-, selling-, marketing-, production-, societal marketing-, and sustainability marketing concept.

Looking at these in relation to the software industry it's easy to see how a mix of these concepts are at work tactically and strategically, and how they could not thrive without leaning on some of the others.

Takeaway of the day: no two Marketing organisations are the same. The understanding of what it does and means is likely to be completely different to that of your neighbour, even in the same industry.

February 06, 2013

Sick as an… Infant

There's nothing like a sick infant to bring you back down to earth.

My 11 month old is cutting teeth right now and the symptoms are the same as with her first two gnashers. In fact, her brother was just as bad. Snotty nose, moaning, coughing, drooling, and a serious rise in temperature. It's the fever that causes most of the concern, as the doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen can only be administered every so often and they usually don't do the trick. They may buy some time but there's nothing worse than hearing cries from the cot in the room next door only minutes after putting her down because she can't fall asleep.

I lie awake, wondering if she'll doze off. As if the usual night time routine isn't bad enough (getting used to the zombie-like daze that parents with toddlers and infants walk around with at work all day because they woke up 6 times the night before), the sick periods bring extra concern, stress, uncertainty, faith, love and hope. It's an emotional roller coaster somewhere in the mind of a zombie parent (I'm trying not to fall asleep while typing this!). My hope is that it passes soon. The thought of visiting a GP or A&E frustrates me, as most doctors in the UK seem to think that almost every ailment could be cured by paracetamol, 7 days to 'ride it out' and E45 cream.

Right now, things are quiet inside so let me get back to sleep for a few minutes.

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