Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog 15: This is the End, Beautiful Friend the End

This will be the last post of this blog. It has been a long time coming and I will miss writing for this class. Surprisingly, I actually found this part of the class to be enjoyable, informative, as well as easy to get done. This is odd as I did not generally write on a weekly basis prior to this course. Through writing this blog I have discovered much about who I am and much about the marketing world. Yes, that is correct, this post is going to be about what I have learned. Let us begin by listing off some objectives that I have met:
  1. Time Management
  2. Writing Skills
  3. Ethical Dilemmas
  4. Team-Building
  5. Consumer Behavior
Time Management: Prior to this class I was always procrastinating and putting off assignments till the last moment. I was reluctant to put in extra work or to do parts of work over the course of many days. Due to the high volume of assignments and the multitude of due dates in this class I quickly learned that this lifestyle was ill suited to succeed in this course (or in any course really.) I have seen positive growth in the amount of time I spend on assignments and a steady decline in the amount of time spent procrastinating across the board. As an example I have finished my final homework assignment in Music Theory II two days before it is due. I have finally developed useful Type A personality traits and my stress levels have gone done because of the structure of my schedule.

Writing Skills: I have developed two different writing styles through Marketing. On the creative side this blog itself has allowed me to develop my own style and tone (described as conversational) that I have used to express my interests, doubts, insights, and marketing often in the same post. I have learned how to write what comes to mind and not waste time thinking of the perfect line. On the business writing side I have continued to hone in on writing clearly and concisely. This allows for easy understanding by an outside observer as well as someone close to the subject itself. I personally enjoy simpler and easily understandable writing as opposed to long overblown writing. I believe it is why I have an appreciation for Hemingway. What one writes should have a point and not leave the reader scratching his head or running to a dictionary. 

Ethical Dilemmas:  I approached these on several occasions over the course of this blog on a personal level. I had difficulty reconciling my thoughts about Punk and my thoughts about the business world. I have finally discovered that there can be a reconciliation. The video promotion project proved this. The idea of sustainability and social change is inherent in Punk and has become increasingly important in the corporate world. The My Marketing Lab content also aided this as it discussed the initiatives that the Life Is Good brand takes to improve the lives of children and the world community. From a business perspective, the effects that advertising has on children and the position that Coke has in Africa were incredibly important to me in developing my own ethical standing on these kinds of business issues. It is very important that a person can relate an ethical dilemma both on a personal level and on a social/political/business level and this course was very effective at driving this point home. 

Team-Building: A large portion of marketing involves interaction with other people, as scary as that can be. Throughout this course I have had several instances where teamwork was both required and necessary for success. The NewShoes simulation was most effective at improving my team-building skills. I actively took a leadership role which I would never have done prior to this course. I discovered the importance of patience and understanding that a leader needs to have especially with two incredibly soft-spoken partners. I also applied outside skills learned from the IT Helpdesk to aid my partners when they had difficulty using Excel and other tech based issues that came up. My improvements as a writer were effective in editing our team reflection which I took the responsibility for. In my Acoustics course I was also able to apply these skills with another group showing that these skills extend beyond one class. 

Consumer Behavior: This lesson stems most from the business world and is mainly applied to it. Through my near obsession with shoes (my Vans collection has grown again) I have seen how my own actions are shaped by a company and how I shape a company. This the definition of marketing. A company has created value for me and I have given value in return. Consumers ultimately buy what a company is and not what it makes. Vans is a company that places value on independence, personal expression, and creativity. I buy Vans because these ideas are central to who I am. I was an early adopter of the Vans mission.  I can now understand how consumers make decisions and behave because I can now identify my own behavior and decision process. 

These are the main objectives I sought to complete over the course of the semester in this class. Though not all directly related to marketing, they can be applied to it. This shows the reach that marketing has into ones life. I will continue to apply these as I complete my final two years of college. This blog has been incredibly useful in discovering these ideas and for being a soapbox for my own ideas. Now I will let The Doors send this marketing blog off for its final post. This is The End.

Blog 14: Winding Down

With only one week left of school it is fitting that this post speaks of endings. Last week was incredibly busy as most of my weeks on campus have been. I had presentations in several classes on top of wind ensemble rehearsal, work-study, my first date, auditions for the MLK talent show, performing in the MLK talent show, P-day, and the inevitable recovery from P-day-day. This all signals that the end of the semester is nigh. My work load has lessened from finishing two of the main projects from the semester. All that is left for major work is my 10-page research paper for History of Jazz. I am very pleased with myself.

This semester has been the toughest both emotionally and academically for me but I have pushed through it and accomplished so much. The amount of work I have put into this marketing class is astronomical and the results I have seen on Canvas shows that hard work truly pays off. This course has allowed me to change my lifestyle and get motivated to achieve my goals.

One way my life has changed references an early post in this very blog. My second post was about getting organized and I have seen the results of that both in and out of the classroom. My work is almost always done well in advance of the next class and my increased focus from being organized has allowed me to still have an active social life. I am far more responsible for my own actions now as I took the initiative to change my major, apply for the WWPV E-board, apply for summer work-study, apply for summer housing, apply for a study trip, petition into a class, spend several hours outside of class to work on a video project at the same time as work on a presentation for a separate class, and enter a committed relationship without procrastinating or being forced by authority figures like parents or professors.

I have also become a more effective leader. At the IT Helpdesk I am often asked for my advice by the newer members of our staff though I am not technically a lead yet. I will be one step closer to this rank as I work here over the summer. I will be even more knowledgeable and adept as a leader and I will be able to share my knowledge with the younger generation. In several of my group projects I was more able to present my opinions effectively and do equal if not more work than my partners.

Ultimately, what I want to express is that marketing is an effective way to learn valuable skills not only for the workplace but also for life. It is how one markets oneself and the effort one puts into it that really counts in the long run. Though I have my disagreements with some of the aspects of marketing I cannot deny its importance and power. I will continue to take these lessons in stride even after this last week of my sophomore year.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blog 13: Better Late Than Never

Easter break has come and gone and in that time I forgot to write my blog! There are a variety of reasons for this:

  1. I was taking time to rest and recharge with friends and family
  2. I was focused on completing other assignments in my other classes
  3. I don't always have something to write

However, during this time of oversight, of which I have many, I have found inspiration!

Two months ago I applied for summer work-study. With three weeks left of school, I am still waiting for an answer. As expected I am very nervous about this. I am unable to plan my summer and I do not want to work back at the grocery store. The worst part is that it is out of my hands. The school will decide my fate. Now you may be asking "What is the point?" Well I will do my best to tell you!

The main point I want to get across is that at some point it comes down to the individual to take matters into his own hands. I have harped on my boss at the Helpdesk every week to see if he can convince whoever is in charge of deciding summer work-study students to get a move on. He even has a say in who works for him! Another example is the application I sent in for the Ghana drumming trip. Within five hours of receiving the application form I had filled it out and sent it in. This shows two things. First, that I am enthusiastic about the trip because of the speed I filled it out. Second, that I am a intent on making my goals become a reality. Any person trying to enter the business world should be enthusiastic and hardworking to achieve their goals. The corporate world is highly competitive and the more aggressive you market yourself the more likely you are to succeed.

Another aspect of this post I would like to point out is that even if something is not done right away or done with hesitation it is still worth it to complete that task. I am two days late submitting this post. I could have cut my losses and enjoyed the rest of my first night back at school relaxing and playing guitar. However, I knew this was an obligation and I am still required to complete it to the best of my abilities. I received the application for summer work-study a month before I filled it out. I filled it out later than I should have but I still completed the application. When you want something done, you have to do it, especially if it is important to the individual.

This post is terrible. It is rambling and poorly written but it is completed. The moral of the story is this: better late than never. Take this as you will.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog 12: This Just In!

This past week was the busiest week I've had all year. Having multiple projects in different classes, registering for fall semester classes, work-study, WWPV e-board training (Say hello to the new tech director) and rehearsal for my wind ensemble concert have all been very draining but very worth it. I have accomplished so much in just a short period of time. It is not over yet though. Now is the time to hunker down and finish out strong. One of the main projects I want to succeed in is the video promotion project for this class. As a self-described creative person, this project is very appealing.

Advertising,as harmful as it can be, is also a form of art. It takes tremendous dedication and time to develop an appealing ad for consumers to eat up. Advertising can also be used to make people aware of various topics like cancer awareness and local events. I also believe that advertising does not merely have to be corporate. Street art is often used as a mode of informing the people.

I am of course talking about artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey (The man responsible for the Obama posters from the 2008 election.) Banksy is the terrorist of the art world (so Punk Rock) and Shepard shows the power of repetition through simplicity. 

This project also offers a way for me to be creative as well as rally the people to a cause: sustainability. Specifically, my partner and I are approaching the topic of personal sustainability. The idea is that there are all small things that we can do in our everyday lives to be sustainable and stop our world from being destroyed by our own ignorance. For instance:

  1. Use a refillable water bottle to cut down on plastic cup and plastic water bottle use
  2. Use online and digital formats for submitting papers to teachers to cut down on paper consumption
  3. Go outside and don't read this blog or use technology

There are countless other options but this is a good place to start. 

Ultimately, the theme I want to get across here (and through many of my other posts) is that there is a need for change. Advertising can help to do this. For the first time in a while I can see some good coming from marketing. It extends beyond the visual and into a personal level of self-advertising to cause change. It is how you carry yourself that can affect the world. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blog 11: Joining the Fold

It has finally happened! After several semesters of having extreme doubts about myself and what I have been doing with my life I have finally done it! I am now a music major! Being that I went from being a business major to a music major, it may seem like a betrayal of what this blog is supposed to be about (this is for marketing class after all.) However, I know that I can still use what I have learned during my time as a business major throughout the rest of my college career.

To expedite things, here is a list:

  1. My interpersonal skills have improved tremendously. Starting with BU-113 and continuing on through many other courses I have worked with a wide range of very different people. I have learned how to interact within an organization and as a leader. 
  2. I am far more organized than I have ever been. I have learned the importance of developing a schedule and getting work done on time. 
  3. I can now give an effective and well done presentation. Referencing my last post, I had to give a presentation to my History of Jazz class the life and works of Hugh Masekela. I would not have done as well on it if I had not learned in my business classes proper presentation procedures. In fact, my boss at my workstudy is using my presentation as a good example of what one should look like in an upcoming training using Prezi (if you haven't checked out Prezi, you will be doing yourself a big favor by doing so.)

I have learned so much as a business major but I do not have the passion to do it day after day for the rest of my life. However, I know that the music business is something that I will be a part of as a musician and music lover. Having kept a business minor, I will have a leg up getting into this highly competitive and changing industry. I will be working with a variety of individuals who are creative and business oriented. I am more prepared.

In the end, I would like to thank everyone that has helped me reach this point in my life. I couldn't have done it without you all and I will not forget what I have learned.

To sum it all up...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blog 10: Grazing in the Grass

This past week of school I noticed a trend through most of my classes. Three out of four classes have had elements of discussion based on the global level. In Music Theory II we discussed the different forms of the augmented sixth chord (please excuse the following musical jargon) whether it be the German, Italian, or French sixth. In History of Jazz we discussed the growth of Jazz as world music. I even gave a presentation on the great South African artist Hugh Masekela! Finally, in this class we dealt with marketing on a global level. Coincidentally, Africa ended up being the most talked about global region. There was a short video on Coca-Cola's level of involvement in African culture. The question that ended up presenting itself was whether or not it was ethical for Coca-Cola to be influencing African culture the way it has been? This is what I would like to focus on.

First I want to provide a little background on Hugh Masekela. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, Hugh was exposed from an early age to the effects of foreign influence on a different culture. What I mean by this is the whole idea of a central government developed by the imperialist-capitalist society that I am a part of, but more on that later. After he left South Africa, he began to hone his playing style by incorporating African elements with traditional Jazz styles. Throughout his following career, Hugh dedicated much of his work to representing the rich culture of Africa outside of the standard western interpretation. Now we can start to investigate the initial question.

Personally, I have gone through quite a transformation this year where I actually care about what my society does. This is why I believe that it is unethical for interference in Africa. This continent and its many culture's have been bastardized and destroyed by western thought. The continent is ravaged by political upheaval and starvation because of western imperialism. Why do African's need business? Why should they care about stocks? Why is there an idea of social structure and class? As a culture, the western world forced its ideas on a group of people and forced them to believe that their culture was inferior. That is why what Hugh Masekela does is so important. He uses his music to express the greatness of his people. He refers to this as Heritage Restoration. Ultimately, I think that small, local communities with small, local economies are far superior to a globalized capitalist economy. As much as I love a good Coke, they are part of the problem like the entire business world.

Perhaps I am too bright eyed, but being a part of a subsistence economy sounds like the way to go. Maybe we just need to go grazing in the grass for a little bit and see that the world is enough for us.

Hugh Masekela Prezi

(All sources used in this Prezi I made are used in this post. Enjoy!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blog 9: Don't Believe the Hype

Spring break sped by way too fast. Its amazing how quickly time passes when you have nothing better to do. All of the free time involved with going home gave me time to rest and to think, but most importantly, gave me time to spend money (this is not a good thing.) While i was home I had the capability to drive around Massachusetts and use my hard earned cash on frivolities (I imagine I spent a solid 100 dollars on food alone!) Apart from food, I also decided to attend a Reel Big Fish concert at the last minute and buy a pair of new headphones. I will be the first to say I know very little about the headphone industry and which brands are the best. What I can say is that I will not spend 200 dollars on a pair of Beats by Dre headphones. My new Sennheisers get the job done just fine at a quarter of the cost. My quest for new headphones shows the power of firsthand experience versus advertising.

Now there are some who say "What? Beats are great! Why wouldn't you want them!?!" I've already stated the first reason: price. There are so many great alternatives to Beats at far cheaper costs that even with their advertising prowess I could not be swayed to buy them. Another factor in my decision was the perks of the headphones i ended up buying. The pair I have provided great clarity of sound, are incredibly comfortable on my ears, and cost the same as another set I tested that offered inferior quality (but they did look way cooler I must say!) Now that there is a little background on my purchase, let us look at what my decisions have to do with marketing.

The area that influenced my decision was brand image and awareness. Beats have far more reach as far as advertising go and have built a solid image as a new, stylish, quality headphone. Sennheiser is just a name that I recognized as quality without having ever seen any advertising for it. The name was enough to influence me. Another aspect of brand image that I observed was the image of the Beats customer. The Beats user is a young, hip person looking for what is in and is accepted as top quality (granted Beats are not bad headphones, they are just over-hyped as the best.) Being the rebel that I am, I was very unconvinced by the hype because of my distrust of most things that people seem to like. Brand image was all it took to steer me away from a purchase. 

Ultimately, I see that my purchase stemmed mostly from my disillusioned view on Beats by Dre and less from the quality of the headphones I now own. I did not even try a set of Beats when I was in the store. Brand image and price were enough to convince me Sennheiser were the right direction. I'm going to leave you now with this statement: don't believe the hype.