Course Reflections

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It’s that time of year again – personal reflections. I’d like to first start with a summary of my experience of the COMM 465. I honestly didn’t have any expectations coming into this course, in fact I had no idea what to expect. I thought marketing was no more than common sense and that it – but I quickly learned that I was wrong. There is a lot of depth and breadth in marketing! The different strategies that companies employ to position their products, and the multiple stages involved in the product cycles are all really fascinating. I definitely learned a lot through this course, and it was great that our instructor, Rui, backed up theory with real life examples both from the textbook as well as his personal experience.

Were there things that I wish I could’ve changed over the term? Not really – although I have to say that it would be more productive if the marketing groups were a lot smaller (e.g. 3-4 rather than a group of 6). I personally find that with any large group project, it is hard to have a cohesiveness in the final product/assignment since every has a different style of writing, or a different approach to the problem. That being said, I enjoyed my group and we had (from my opinion) fun producing the video project.

I like to end my final post by mentioning that I enjoyed not only the lecture content of the class, but the class diversity in the students. I was very interesting to have a copious amount of international students to provide a different point of view other than the North American standard.

I wish everyone good luck on their finals, and most importantly Happy Holidays!

Marketing Through Marketing

What better way to market yourself than creating a list of popular marketing blogs? As I was making my search for an external blog, This was the first blog that popped up “The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs” on a blog. Well, technically it isn’t really a blog but this website, “unbounce”, has their own blog.

What’s even more interesting is that “unbounce” specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of optimizing a web page to position itself better when a user tries to search for a keyword. SEO can target different kinds of search for example, image search, academic search, and so on. By linking the 75 blogs, it benefits both “unbounce” as well as the 75 other blogs since they are being cross referenced, thus increasing both parties chances of appearing higher in a search engine.

From this blog post, I actually found quite an interesting post: “Bringing the in-store Christmas shopping experience online“.

With the holiday season already upon us, it is the crucial time of year where retailers can generate majority of their revenues for the year. The blog post author, Bernard Luthi, suggests that an emphasis on in-store customer service is a major draw for consumers to shop at a Brick-and-Mortar retail store, and how retailers should bring that same customer service to online stores.  For example, retailers can attempt to recreate the same customer service by having instant access to shop representatives via web chat.

While this solution may be a temporary solution for the retailer, it is hard to convey certain sense across the web – for instance the physical feel of the product. For now, I guess shoppers who really want to know their product will have to brave holiday rush in the malls.

Supermileage Positioning – Response to Ryan Gibson’s Post

This post will be a response to Ryan Gibson’s post about “Communicating the Value of Non-Monetary Exchange”. In short summary, Ryan is trying to obtain a sponsorship for his extracurricular team, UBC Supermileage, from a manufacturer of cycling wheel supplies. Ryan is trying to communicate the benefits of sponsoring a student team to the company, by emphasizing student learning through hands-on design as well as positioning Vancouver as a cycling hotspot to show of the brand sponsorship.

I agree with Ryan’s approach to obtain this European sponsor, as gaining a sponsorship is a two way street – both parties must receive some sort of benefit. That being said, there may be some cultural differences between that may not have been accounted for. For example, even though this company may have an office in Colorado, the company may not share the same values as other North American manufacturers when it comes to sponsoring student teams.

I think the proposal can be strengthened by showcasing the SAE Supermileage competition itself. Rather than highlight the benefits of showcasing their logo locally in the Vancouver proper, position the proposal such that it highlights that the Supermileage competition is international – thus giving their brand a much wider recognition.

The proposal can also be position in such a way that the European manufacturer can ride the momentum of bigger, more recognizable brands – almost as if there is a “social validation” between the brands. For example, lets say that Boeing is a primary sponsor, and this European manufacturer is a secondary sponsor. For an outsider, if they the manufacturers logo next to Boeing, then they might association an elitist feeling towards the European manufacturer as well.

Anyways, those are just my thoughts and opinions. Most importantly, I wish good luck for UBC Supermileage in the up and coming competition in the spring!

Creating a need through Obsolescence


A nifty short that starts out with a line a robots lining-up to purchase a new  “phone” (remarkably resembling an iPhone). With each scene, we see a robot either experimenting and buying a new app (the early adopters) and demonstrating its functionality to its peers, then following suit, the other robots also purchase the app (the early majority). All seems well, until the bigger grey robot starts to interfere with the functionalities of the phone, rendering the phones useless. Saddened, the robots question their existence, and their primary form of entertainment has been “rendered obsolete”, until the store offers the newer version of the phone (Version 5…. hint hint), and the robots, like in the first scene, line-up up to purchase the newest version of the phone. In the last scene, the big grey robot retreats back into background, with its backside displaying the logo of the company.

So what does this say about our society and how does it apply to marketing?

This video is a good overall look at today’s society as a whole, not just Apple product consumers which this movie short alludes to. The part where the big grey iDiot robot is basically pointing out the practice of “planned obsolescence”, where companies deliberately design products to last a certain amount of usage before they fail and design the product to be purposefully difficult or impossible to repair, and also leaving out key features just to put them in later versions of the same product. More often than not this forces the consumer to buy the new, “improved” product. Apple is the king of this design/selling tactic.

Data Mining – what do the numbers mean?

Ever wonder how Google, Facebook, YouTube selects ads to your interests and hobbies? For example, I like road cycling and when using the Google Search engine, Google will display ads on the right-hand side bar that will link me to online cycling stores such as Chain Reaction Cycles or Merlin Cycles. This is an example of Google Data Mining users web browser cookies and previously search items. Google names this service Google AdSense, and it is one of the main drivers of the company’s revenues. While this is an interesting topic, the main focus of this blog post will be on Data Mining conducted by Target, which effectively predicted when woman are pregnant, and also estimated the month of when the baby is due just based on the purchasing habits of their customer

So how did Target achieve such a feat? Let’s start from the beginning. Every time a new customer makes a purchase with a credit card, a purchasing profile is created for the customer and every future purchase will be added to the profile. As individuals shop more, Target starts to collect data on what each customer is buying. Then, a team of statistician are hired to make sense of the data and predict future buying habits of the company’s customers. Data mining is essential for marketing. It allows companies such as Target to create specific advertisements for products based on the customers buying habits, thus creating a unique and direct marketing communication stream for each individual costumer. Data mining makes marketing more effective for the company, as the company can cater to the unique needs of the target market, rather than trying to capture the market with a broader marketing strategy.

You can have a read of the Target article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/

If you want to know more about data mining processes and how companies learns their customer’s secrets through numbers, refer to this New York Times article which provides a comprehensive high level summary: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html

Email Marketing Adjustments

Earlier in October, Google’s Gmail (email service) had one of its’ bigger updates in recent times. What are the changes? Gmail introduced a “Inbox Tabs and Category Labels”. The default tabs are “Primary”, “Social”, and “Promotions”. An example of a primary email would be ones from friends, family and business. For “Social Emails”, emails that are related to social media are categorized into this lab. Lastly, “Promotions” tabs contain emails that are promotion for companies and stores. For example, Banana Republic’s emails would be considered a “Promotional” email as it is notifying the user of clothing sales.

Realizing the Gmail update, companies such as Banana Republic (BR) now understood that their emails are no longer inboxed under the “Primary” tab, meaning the customer will not see their emails as easily which contains deals and offers. This update essential affected BRs reach to the customer, To combat this, BR sent an email to all Gmail users which included instructions of how to move BR’s emails from the “Promotions” tab to the “Primary” tab.

I am most impressed by the reaction and the quickness to action by BR marketers, as this email (pictured above) was sent only a few days after Gmail implemented their new email layout.

If you want to find out more about Gmail, you can follow this link here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/mail/help/features.html