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.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blog 8: Bankrupt On Selling

Hello again! I've spent a large portion of this blog writing about the Punk attitude I try to have about much of what I care about. I love the community, I love the music, and I love the sense of identity it brings. Being true to yourself is incredibly important to remaining sane. Punk is supposed to be anti-corporate and materialistic, but here I am, a second year business major with a soft spot for buying shoes. I can't help but feel like I'm betraying everything I should stand for. I have started to feel the difficulty in reconciling  my Punk roots with my educational aspirations. I suppose the question I'm trying to approach in this blog is whether or not this can be done: Can one keep one's integrity in the business world? I am not sure I will have an answer.

The Bad:

  1. The feeling of manipulation I have been starting to have in regards to marketing techniques and strategies. 
  2. The worrisome way children are marketed to in this country.
  3. The idea of large corporations controlling the world (you can't tell me they don't, its messed up.)
  4. The direction the human race is going in this constant consumer culture where we invest our time in consuming products for the sake of consuming (this is especially worrisome because I do it too.) 

I have pondered much over these bad ideas recently. I can't stand the idea of trying to convince/manipulate people into purchasing the latest gizmo or gadget. Maybe I'm too starry eyed and idealistic, but I believe that whatever it is that is being sold or produced should speak for itself. I think this comes from my belief that music should speak for itself instead of trying to spoon-feed it to the music-listening world. It is why I can't stand the idea of music critics. Who are they to say whether an album is good or bad or "art?" Just listen to it and make your own decision! The topic of children marketing scares me as well. It is so underhanded and I definitely believe it has created a generation of children who are complacent consumer cadets. This is allowed to happen because the government decreased regulations in the 1980's. The fact that business has such a hold on policy is terrifying for a person like me who already doesn't have much faith in the government. There is some good however.

The Good:

  1. I have developed excellent interpersonal skills. I have my grocery store job back home to thank for getting me out of my shell. 
  2. My ability to work with/lead a group has increased. 
  3. I am developing good organizational and work skills.
  4. I'm good at being a business major. 

I have learned many useful skills that I cannot deny have made me more adept at existing in the world we live in. I am no longer the shy weirdo I used to be. I have gained the ability to talk to people and work with them and even offer my own opinions as a leader. I have finally made the work ethic my parents instilled in me even better by finally getting organized and procrastinating less. The final observation I have made is that I'm good at what I do. However, this scares me more than anything. Have I lost track of who I am? Why am I doing what I am doing when I cannot identify with it, and why am I good at it?

This is not my most cheerful post, but I believe it is important to question what is being taught. I wish I could offer better insight, but I think I'll leave it up to whoever reads this to come to their own conclusion. As always, here is a song I really like that is somewhat related (I think). Modest Mouse -Bankrupt On Selling

(The above song was written by a blue-collar high school dropout and yet I see so much truth and wisdom in what he sings. Does one need a college education to understand the world? Maybe not.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Blog 7: ...My Soul is on the Ground and I'm Walking Down the Street [Shoes: Part 2]

We were discussing my love of shoes when we last left this blog (I hope you all listened to the song.) Now that there is some familiarity with my favorite shoe company Vans, we can look into what makes me swoon over their products.

The first reason I prefer Vans is simple: I like the look and feel of their shoes. It is not only a quality product that serves a functional purpose, but also has a certain style associated with it that I like to show to the world. The second reason: there are many varieties of product available. Vans not only offers many different styles of shoes but has a complete clothing line that includes pants, hats, and other accessories. The Third reason: Vans is a strong supporter of youth culture, especially punk rock culture. The vans warped tour was a revolution in the way concerts could be held. Instead of selling out a single stage area for a weekend, Vans decided to take its stages on the road and hit well over 20 cities in the U.S. every summer since 1995. Thousands of fans come every year to see many of their favorite bands. What I found from my own visits to the tour is the sense of community brought on between different groups of people. I saw families with children, skateboarders, metal-heads, and every other type of music lover in between. Vans helped to bring many different people together for several common goals: good music, good fun, and a good community, as sponsored by good shoes. This is what I see as Vans greatest strengths and this gives what is called a competitive advantage.

The book definition of competitive advantage is an advantage over competitors gained by offering greater customer value, either by having lower prices or providing more benefits that justify higher prices. Vans offers a high quality shoe, stylish shoe with prices usually ranging from $45-$65. The company also offers customers the ability to make custom designed shoes from a variety of unique patterns and colors for several styles of their shoes (the individual marketing strategy.) Finally, the company stands for community as well as individuality. But what of other brands? Let us look at one of my other favorite shoe companies, Converse.

Converse has an unmistakable classic style that is known throughout much of the world. The Chuck Taylor style is associated with many different subcultures including musicians, skateboarders, hipsters, and basically everyone. Their shoes are comfortable and durable like Vans and prices are very close (about $50-$75.) They also offer customizable shoes. However, most Converse shoes are based of of the Chuck Taylor design and this makes it difficult to differentiate which styles are which. The higher prices can make it hard to determine what type of shoe to buy because they all look similar (Why is this one hi-top shoe more than this nearly identical one?) Vans has a competitive advantage because it offers more varieties of distinguishable shoes at lower prices. 

Well there you have it, the end of a brief discussion on one of my favorite products. See you all next week.
"...My soul is on the ground and I'm walking down the street" - The Suicide Machines

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog 6: Vans in my Head and Vans on my Feet... [Shoes: Part 1]

This is the perfect time for me to discuss my love of shoes. I think they are the perfect way to express a person's individuality without shoving it down the throats of those walking by with such things as brightly colored shirts with obnoxious slogans written on them. You only live once? Yeah, well you only die once too so I think I'll take my chances not being a screw up, but I digress. Getting back on track, I have a deep love of skate shoes. I think they look great, are very comfortable, and represent the very open and supportive community that is the skateboarding world. For example, I am a terrible skateboarder and can't do any tricks but am encouraged by my friends who have been doing it for years, but I digress again. Now I'll try to bring in the meat and potatoes of this post.
"All that meat and no potatoes, just ain't right
like green tomatoes" - Fats Waller
After the actual board, the most important piece of equipment are the shoes that you wear. The basic requirement is that they be flat-soled and flexible. Like much of the items available in our everyday capitalist American lives, we have control over which brand of shoes we can have. This is the reason why there is a whole world of skate shoe manufacturers offering many different takes on the basic construction needs of a skateboarding shoe. Some of the more famous brands include: DC, Etnies, Adio, Converse, and my personal favorite, Vans.
"Vans in my head and Vans on my feet..."
- The Suicide Machines

This is where the marketing concepts come in. Chapter 6 of our textbook is titled "Creating Value for Target Customers." Now why would I choose to spend way more money than I should on several pairs of skate shoes when I could buy one really cheap pair at a department store? This is due to Vans approach to the idea of Market Segmentation which is the process of dividing a market into smaller segments of buyers with distinct needs, characteristics, or behaviors that might require separate marketing strategies or mixes. Within this there is the concept of Market Targeting which is deciding what segments are most attractive to enter. There are also variables that go along with Market Segmentation. These variables are geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral. So where does Vans stand on these ideas?

Vans clearly targeted the skate shoe market as its segment. The company makes use of all of the variables but I believe it mainly focuses on the psychographic aspect. The psychographic variable deals with social class, lifestyle, and personality. The lifestyle it goes for is the free-spirited skateboarder. The personality it goes for (well, basically what I see as my personality) is the independent person who likes a stylish shoe that says something about who they are. 

Through targeting these segments Vans hopes to differentiate itself from its competitors and create value and gain loyalty from its customers. The competitive aspect will be explored in the future of this blog so for now I leave with one of my favorite punk bands ever: The Suicide Machines-The Vans Song 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Blog 5: Lost In The Supermarket

Punk is something I have always been able to get behind. It started out simply as a type of music that got my blood pumping and made me want to move. Though it still does this to me, it has also become a way of thinking that I embrace. It is important to note that Punk does not have a single definition and that this makes it a very broad term. Punk to me is doing what you want to do despite what everyone tells you. It is near complete liberation for me. However, there are detractors of Punk. Some see it as a self-destructive, ignorant, and juvenile. I specifically cite many of the more classically trained  musicians I have encountered speaking ill of it and writing off punk rockers as terrible, sloppy musicians which could not be further from the truth for most, though there are exceptions. You may now be asking yourself  "What does this have to do with marketing?" Well I will tell you, but first there needs to be a history lesson!

Some would say this isn't strictly Punk, but this is
the perfect Punk record in my book.
When Punk initially took form in the mid-70's it was widely mistrusted. It was considered a big threat to the social structure of the UK during Margaret Thatcher's time as prime minister. As unruly and strange as it seemed, Punk gained a following and had increasing influence in the world. However, as quickly as Punk gained popularity it was overtaken by new forms of music like Disco and what many refer to as Hair Metal (not hating on Hair Metal, Van Halen rocks.) It survived the 80's and in the 90's it resurfaced stronger than ever thanks to bands like Green Day and Rancid. By the mid-2000's it was the most popular form of rock around (Blink-182! Fall Out Boy! Taking Back Sunday!) Nowadays it is not as popular as it was 10 years ago but is still alive and well. Now that there is a rough timeline of Punk let us see its relation to marketing.

In the marketing world there exists the idea of Consumer Buyer Behavior. This is the buying behavior of final consumers - individuals and households that buy goods and services for personal consumption. This is affected by cultural, social, personal, psychological factors. The buyer takes all of these into account before deciding what product or service he will use. The part that I want to talk about is known as the adoption process, which is the mental process through which an individual passes from first hearing about an innovation to final adoption. The five stages of this process are as follows:
  1. Awareness-The consumer becomes aware of the new product but lacks information about it
  2. Interest-The consumer seeks information about the new product
  3. Evaluation-The consumer considers whether trying the new product makes sense
  4. Trial-The consumer tries the new product on a small scale to improve his or her estimate of its value
  5. Adoption-The consumer decides to make full and regular use of the new product
Punk was initially a new style of music that had very little information known about it at its inception. This was the awareness step for many young music listeners. The interest stage came when these people began going to Punk shows and getting Punk records. Some kids were turned off by the intensity of Punk and would no longer seek information while others embraced it with many starting their own groups. This is the way the evaluation step was completed. The trial step was undertaken when those groups that formed decided whether or not they would continue to play as strict Punk bands or expand their sound to include other influences like Reggae (as The Clash did). The adoption process as complete with the fifth step when these new groups decided to fully dedicate their lives to the music and lifestyle of Punk. 

Punk is not supposed to be about commercialism and business so this post is a little sacrilegious of me but the points still stand. Also, Punk is now a part of the buying process for some consumers as it is a cultural factor in the decision process. Punk is in so much of the world around us and I am happy to have been able to share some of my views on it. I now leave with this track from The Clash where the title of this post comes from.

(Definitions taken from the Textbook for our class)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Blog 4: Ultra Feast

Well it's almost midnight on a Saturday night. So what is it that I can write about that has to do with marketing? I'm sure I'll find a way to relate. Let's start with a little background on my night.

For several weeks now my roommate Dylan and I have been planning what was to be known as "Ultra Feast." The basic idea of this event was to gather friends and food together for a night of good times and good food. Among the fare available this night was quesadillas, chili, and peanut butter brownies. We also had several different choices of beverages to partake of. Over the course of several hours nearly all of the food was devoured. Overall, the night was a great success. So what does this all have to do with marketing? 

In Chapter 4 of our marketing textbook the topic of market research is approached. The whole purpose of this chapter is to emphasize how important it is to find out what it is the customer wants in a product or service. This can be accomplished by observing consumers first hand, by taking surveys, by interviewing focus groups, and a variety of other methods. In order to decide what it is our guest wanted tonight we had to conduct our own form of marketing research. 

We needed to conduct somewhat of a survey in order to decide what cuisine we had for Ultra Feast. Some questions are as follow:
  1. Are there any peanut allergies?
  2. Who here is vegan or vegetarian?
  3. Does everyone like the food available?
  4. What type of drink should we provide?
Once we decided what food we would provide we further narrowed down how we would carry out Ultra Feast in the future by using a sort of rough focus group. By asking our guests we determined that peanut butter brownies and a wide variety of soda pop are a must for future events and that nachos should be made in a smaller quantity. We also realized that there is a shortage of bowls in our suite. This means that to provide the best service to our guests we should invest in more bowls.However, the most important lesson we learned is that Ultra Feast is a fun way to spend time with friends.

Marketers need to embrace these methods to survive. The textbook uses Domino's Pizza's turnaround campaign as an example. Ultra Feast can work the same way. Next time we will use better ingredients to make our meal or provide an even wider variety of soda pop. Ultra Feast will survive and other venture in the future will make use of marketing research.

I hope that was enough of a relation to marketing for this post. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Blog 3: Sports are Hard

What It Sounds Like To Me

Let us first begin with this: Sports are hard. I have never been the biggest fan of organized, televised athletics. As the son of both a gym teacher and a music teacher, I had the choice of dedicating my life to one or the other. I went with music. However, I have always been exposed to the world of athletics. The most present of all sports related subjects in my life is the Superbowl. Not only is this a major day for the NFL, but it is a major day for advertisers and marketers. Many a time I have heard of people watching the game simply to see the many ads that bombard the scheduled commercial time slots. This year is no different. As a marketing student and a marketing blogger I cannot help but see what is going into these ads.

First, we'll do a little timeline. Prior to the start of the game my roommates and I we're witness to a slew of strongly patriotic ads. There seems to be a recurring "America is Awesome" theme here. By the second quarter of the game we have already seen several celebrity  drenched commercials (shout out to Arnold Schwarzenegger) and at least two sentimental car ads, not to mention U2 and their continuing campaign to rid the world of injustices and disease. Coke wants us to know that America is beautiful. VW wants us to know that German Engineers are apparently angels who sprout rainbows out of their nether regions. Its not even the second half and I have to ask: What is happening to this world?

Nearly every commercial is absolutely ridiculous. There is a similar formula for a majority of these:

  1. Put a normal person in a odd situation
  2. Add a celebrity
  3. Add a dash of indie rock/dubstep
  4. Mix Well and Serve

I think this speaks to the increasing homogenization of American culture. Everything is being boiled down into a sure fire formula of similarity. As a self described creative person, I am very against this. The arts should be rebellious and unique, including televised arts like Superbowl commercials. As soon as you flood the marketplace with too much of one same it diminishes the quality. This ties into the Consuming Kids documentary. As long as advertisers bombard the same images and ideas, people will buy into them, sometimes just to get rid of the aggravation of being bombarded. Now that I've gotten my issues with the less savory aspects of modern marketing, let us apply the 4 P's to one of the commercials.

Here we are:

Product: Good Ole' Fashion Budweiser. It pulls at your patriotic heart strings and shows that you can be anything to anyone with their help. It is so very beneficial and attractive to the customer!

Place: Small town America. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows your local Mom and Pop liquor store can provide you with the beer that brings people together. As always, the Clydesdale pulled wagon can bring it to you.

Price: In the rural U.S. you can easily afford this product. The price is low but the quality speaks for itself, so choose Budweiser over anything else!

Promotion: The American armed forces supports its troops with Budweiser! Do you love America? Then you would love Bud! It is America! As far as style goes, this aims straight for the heart and hopes to catch its customers there.

The target market is clearly the working American patriot. It is for the old idea that the American community is strong and supports its troops.

There you have it. My Superbowl blog post. It is a mixture of rants against conformity and analysis of the process that marketers are conforming. I can only hope that a return to individuality in marketing media can occur so that not only will the company represent itself, but represent itself with integrity in a unique fashion. We'll just have to wait another year to see. I leave with this: What will they think of next?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blog 2: Up & Go (Abroad): Getting Organized

Welcome back! Another week down and let me tell you, things are already picking up speed. Usually when I start a new semester, I take my sweet time getting acclimated to the new schedule because I usually have a very limited workload. Not so this semester it would seem.

The main object of my interest in the coming months is to study abroad. The deadline for the Fall 2014 semester is February 7th and at this point in time, I have a little over a week and a half to complete all of my forms. I have been very successful in getting everything done, surprisingly. Another important caveat about all of this work I have been doing towards study abroad is that this is all on top of my school work load, work-study, and concert band rehearsal (in a few weeks I'll hopefully be adding on another semester of being a radio DJ at WWPV, too.) It has been a hectic week for a type B person like me.
Stressed Nate is stressed

I plan on going to Copenhagen, Denmark next fall. Part of the process involves selecting courses to take based on what you need for requirements to graduate. Now, to do this, one must first see what courses are offered at the institution in the country of study. Whether or not the credits from those courses will transfer is another question. Needless to say, this has been extremely stressful (notice stressed Nate to the right). But I have toughed through it and just gotten my work done (mostly) without complaint. Friday, I even realized that my minor takes the place of my Business concentration requirement which means I can afford to take classes that may not transfer credits abroad! So what does this all mean?

This is the part where I explain why my pain relates to marketing. This whole experience has taught me the importance of getting organized. Usually I just do everything as it comes along and do not take the initiative to get work done before its due, but now I am (gasp!)  This isn't just for study abroad but for my classes as well. This class especially needs organization. As a marketer, I believe it is important to be organized so that you can stay on top of your company and ensure that everything is going as smoothly as it can. This also ties into my TED talk presentation about innovation. Innovation allows one to change how the market works but to do this one needs to be organized and have a set goal in mind. For Rodney Mullen, it was so that he could expand the street skating vocabulary. For me, it is to study abroad and expand my experiences in the world. When we approach the new shoes simulation in the coming weeks, I will be more prepared to operate a business and to take on all of my other course work.

I still need to finish my study abroad packet first. However, I am much more prepared than I ever thought I could be, which means that marketing is having a somewhat positive effect on my life. My view of the world is once again expanding. Finally, simply because I love this song and because it is the title of this post, here is Up & Go by The Starting Line. Have a great week! (Note that this is a song about a girl, not study abroad. My women problems are a whole different story)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blog 1: Nice Try Kid, Marketing is for You!

This past week (1/13/14-1/17/14) was the first week of classes and that meant another semester of having no idea what I was getting myself into. This is one result of that.

Marketing: What is it? Before the class and from my own experience working for The Big Y chain of grocery stores back home, I felt that it was all about brainwashing customers into purchasing something they didn't need and there are still times it seems like that, but it is far more complex and interesting. Perhaps its actually a positive?

I was shocked at myself when that question first entered my mind, but then i looked something very near and dear to my heart: Nice Try Kid.

First, a little history. Nice Try Kid is a pop-punk band hailing from my homeland (Western Ma/Eastern New York) made up of (currently) 4 really cool dudes. I'm good friends with the two guitar players, Bryan and Tom, and their sister, Jess. This means I'm in the know with the band and get all the updates earlier than other fans. They've performed all around Berkshire County and the Albany area of New York, even venturing as far as Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to play gigs. As with any band, you want people to know your name. To do this, they started printing t-shirts and having stickers made and have even had custom guitar picks made! Now, you may say "So how does this relate to marketing?" Well thank you for asking!

In this first week we learned of the four Ps: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.
  1. Product-What stands out? Why would a customer want this product or service?
  2. Place-Where are customers going to find this product or service? How will the product be distributed?
  3. Price-What should the product or service cost, especially considering the competition and the market?
  4. Promotion-Why would a customer choose this product? How will you convince the customer? How will this be communicated? 
Let us take the Nice Try Kid guitar pick as an example. As for product, it has a Nice Try Kid graphic and it is made from a glow-in-the-dark material. This could make a customer want this product. The customer can find these picks at any of Nice Try Kid's shows and they are distributed from the merchandise table which I occasionally run. Price is where their marketing skills fall short for this product, as they are free. The promotion aspect of the pick is very good though. It communicates the bands name and it is easy to get to people at shows by throwing a pick at the end of the set. It is also incredibly portable. So much in such a small object!

So what is marketing? It is about building a relationship with customers that will benefit both parties. The term that was learned in class was "creating value". It is about connecting with people. It can even be applied to the self.

Now I see that marketing applies to the music I love and I'm sure that I will begin to notice it more and more in the other parts of my life. I can only ask this question now: What will happen next?

All Nice Try Kid material used with permission from the group