Wabash Blogs Marketing Immersion 2006 -

March 10, 2006

Friday, March 10

Pat Patterson - After a crazy night of surfing, wet t-shirt contests, and consuming copious amounts of alcohol, I awoke from my dream to yet another day of our brief marketing “school”. I was not too reluctant to get out of bed because the day was going to be a relatively short one. We were to have one more guest speaker and then an overall wrap-up of the course.

The day began with a debriefing from the South Bend visit to the College Football Hall of Fame. Although the exhibit was not able to attract many visitors, I was impressed by the marketing strategy and effort on the part of the director of marketing, Katie Berrettini. Also, I am going to exercise my own marketing ability by suggesting a visit the College Football Hall of Fame. It is actually very fascinating, and there is a small portion devoted to the rivalry between Wabash and DePauw. Therefore, everyone needs to go. That is all.

After our debriefing we listened to a speech on branding from Tom Vriesman, Vice President of Rowland Associates. The company promoted the sales of Herman the customers Miller furniture. In order to differentiate themselves from other furniture companies, they relied on customer intimacy to sell their products. 40% of the interior of the stores consisted of a lounge area and a café where the sales associates were able to get to know their customers in order to have a better idea of the furniture they believed suited the customers best. I found this approach to be unique and quite effective.

At the end of the course the last concept that we learned about was sales and, the importance of looking at each buyer individually to target and meet their needs. To go along with this concept, Ken Turchi took the time to teach us how to “sell” ourselves. We learned how to prepare and present ourselves for interviews that we may have in the future. I am glad that Ken was able to take the time to do so since that information will prove to be very beneficial in the years to come.

Before we left the conference room for good, we filled out a course evaluation. I gave the course a failing grade because one restaurant we ate in failed to provide me with a root beer float. Of course I am just messing around. I really enjoyed the brief marketing “school” and I think that it is great that Wabash has these kinds of opportunities in a liberal arts college. Instead of absorbing sun rays, I absorbed a lot of beneficial information on a topic that I am particularly interested in. On one of the first days of classes Ken told us that when we apply for internships or jobs we need to ask ourselves what it is that we can do. I wrote it several times in my notebook “what can I do?” The answer for now is that I can do a lot more now that I had taken the time to be a part of the marketing trip.

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The End

Kevin Wasie - So, you ask why any college student would give up their precious spring break to study marketing in the middle of Indiana, Well … So do I, because I’m still not sure what made me make that decision. Maybe it was the prospect of getting to know some alumni; maybe it was the thought of learning material not available for study here at Wabash; or maybe it was the idea that if I’m not doing it then someone else will be. Either way, it was worth it.

After spending our Thursday night at the College Football Hall of Fame, we met up with Ken on Friday at 9:00 AM to debrief. As we found out from Katie Barrentini, Director of Marketing at the CFHOF, they were not doing nearly as well as their sales numbers projected. However, after discussing this issue in the debrief, most of us agree that in face of all of the obstacles, the marketing department is doing a fantastic job. It is not easy to deal with a low budget on the hopes of obtaining higher sales numbers.

After debriefing, we were met by the Vice President of Rowland Associates, Tom Vriesman. While at his previous job for Herman Miller, Tom was highly involved in the creation of a brand market strategy for their National Design Centers and Dealers. It was apparent from his presentation how influential the philosophy and vision of the company is on the products and services. For instance, Tom told us how their sales strategy is related to biblical ideology of listening to the client, and then consulting. This philosophy is apparent in every single detail of their dealer locations which are built around finding out what is best for the client, and then helping them select it.

When Tom was finished with his presentation we moved onto the last exercise of the marketing trip, evaluating our own brand image. As Ken says, it is important to know how you will act and what you will say before going into any interview. This may sound very simple, but when we were put to the challenge, we found it to be a difficult task.

Moving onto one more administrative detail, we filled out a survey to gauge the success and/or failures of this year’s trip. In order to improve upon this year, Lu and Ken will look into these results and make necessary changes.

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It's All Coming Together

Teye Morton - Thursday marked the penultimate day of trip. It has really been a rewarding experience. I don’t think I have spent this much time traveling around any city – I must add that midnight excursions at the end of a long day can be very counterproductive. Thursday began on a high note as the group leader, Ken Turchi, gave us an extra hour of sleep after returning from out interview with Scott Smalstig the night before. Who isn’t happy when an 8 a.m. is canceled? We also had a substantially smaller volume of reading to do from Wednesday. See Thursday photo album here.

The morning session started with the usual debriefing, where we looked at marketing focus Joseph David Marketing had developed for one of its clients. The account was aimed at reaching a very exclusive portion of the population through a variety of advertising media. Joseph David Marketing’s pitch for this job looked very impressive and was the platform from which we launched today’s main theme of how various media are used to market a product to consumers. We focused primarily on the magazine and editorial publications and how they performed a service to marketers and readers through an interesting marriage between journalistic content and effective advertising which is the primary source of revenue for such periodicals.

Helen O’Guinn was the person who presented this topic. As the editor of Endless Vacation, she has the responsibility of bringing out a travel and tour focused magazine that informs readers about various locations and attractions to consider if they are planning a vacation. She came in to talk about how marketing affects her activities as an editor of an opinion magazine that had that was strategically placed to market the leisure industry – hotels and vacation spots. We also looked at how certain publication do not marry this combination in a very ethical way by “reporting” on only businesses that  pay for their press, in short making no clear distinction between advertisers and real content. It was interesting to see how she managed the objective of actually performing her journalistic responsibility of giving an unbiased opinion of the various places she had to visit, whilst remaining surrounded by the splendor of various vacation spots she has to visit to gain a fair knowledge for her job.
In the same spirit of the discussion we had in the morning, we spent time looking at how the Indiana State government advertised various locations across Indiana. It was interesting to note that the main tourism map that the state released required various sites to pay to be included when marketing Indiana should be a public service. This was analogous to papers requiring payment before even a mention of a product or company is given. Imagine if the Wall Street journal required a financial contribution before it ran an article that mentioned your business. The implication of this fact is that a business that isn’t in a very strong financial situation and that requires a large advertising scope would face a big problem because wide spread coverage would be hard to get.

We met with such a business later on in the day as we made a trip to South Bend. The College Football Hall of Fame provided a case study of a business that was facing a marketing hurdle of getting customers from all over the country to come and see their museum. We had the chance to discuss some of the challenges a marketing director faces. Katie Berrettini, the director of marketing, is in charge of drawing crowds and creating events that facilitate this goal. The business she joined was facing many challenges just breaking even. It had essentially fallen on her to turn their fortunes around by making an effective campaign that would draw people in. 3 days into our immersion trip and I was now able to start getting some of the concepts and strategies that someone involved in marketing would prepare for as they thought of ways to do such a job. Most of the challenges and strategies we were able to brainstorm within the space of an hour we dead on the concepts she came to the business with.

To cap off the day, we were entertained to another “lavish” meal by our facilitator, Lu (thanks). We met up with three alums and I had the privilege to sit by one of those gracious alums. Roland Morin ’91, another marketing success story, had many stories about his travels and his successes as a marketer. The many stories he had about his days at the college also gave me a little hope that there are better days for the big WC in the near future.

I guess at the end of the day the one thing I could take away from this whole trip has been the two fold realization that as a marketing professional, you have to be ready to find the best match for your customer, whether it is a multimillion dollar establishment that wishes to reach a niche clientele or a struggling business that has few resources available that wants you to create their business miracle.

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Marketing Director Trying to Build Attendance

Pat Maguire - The events of the fourth day began with a visit from Helen Guinn. Helen is a freelance travel writer who is also an author of several books about day trips in Indiana. As the former editor of several Indiana travel publications, she provided great insight into the ethical struggle between advertising and editorial publishing.  Publishers are often under pressure to run an article about a company that has purchased advertising space. She often had to reject articles featuring advertised resorts, hotels, or other travel destinations in the interest of her readers.   

After yet another free lunch, we headed north to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend. The CFHOF is an interesting case study because it is located in the mecca of college football, Notre Dame - (Charlie Weiss for president), but they cannot get anyone to attend the museum. We found that while marketing ideas for the CFHOF are endless, their marketing budget is not. They simply are hindered in their marketing capabilities by a continuously shrinking budget.  We did find however, that the somewhat new (5 years) marketing director, Katie Berrettini, is developing many new marketing strategies that is taking the Hall of Fame in the right direction.

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March 09, 2006

Marketing Immersion - In Parts!

Jon Paul Patterson - It is currently 1:09 p.m. according to my watch and we’re on the road to South Bend. I’ve decided to do my post in two parts. The first part will be my reflections on the morning and my second will be done during my trip back from South Bend. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do on the trips. These aren’t like those summer camp trips that you took on the busses driven by one of the bearded camp counselors who also led the typical asphalt carols such that we all remember. However, Goga’s pumping Queen through the van speakers with his iPod.  I’ll take an iPod over “Wheels on the Bus” any day.

 Part 1

Today’s main theme is the complex collection of target markets arranged under the heading travel and leisure. This tied in well with yesterday’s advertising visit to Joseph David Advertising. Yesterday we saw how JDA is advertising Sea Island resorts to an extremely small niche market. Today we learned it from the travel magazine and guide aspect. It makes sense that advertisers need magazines to have channels to their audience while magazines need their advertisers to help pay for their production.  

Helen O’Guinn, a former editor of many travel-specific magazines discussed with us some of the ins-and-outs of marketing destinations of travel.  It was especiallyg to hear that it’s not just about what a place has to offer, but how it markets those places to different demographics of people.  An example that was discussed was the rise and fall of Las Vegas as a family destination.  We also talked about trend in the market known as the “ad”itorial, or when a magazine’s article is in such high praise of a destination that it seems to be an advertisement for it (which is often the case).  

It was a very productive morning session, but I think I’m going to use the rest of the trip time in the best way I know how—nap time. I’m looking forward to “experiencing” history of college football. Until we get there, ZZZzzzzzz…

Part 2

It is currently 8:31 p.m. and I really can say that I had a great time in South Bend. We had a great tour of the College Football Hall of Fame. It has a lot more to offer than you would initially believe. We toured the facility with Katie Berrettini, the Hall’s Director of Marketing and I actually found that Wabash is represented in the Hall of Fame.  His name is Century "Wally" Milstead.  He played offensive line for Wabash from 1920-1921 and then transferred to Yale.  You can read more about him here: http://www.collegefootball.org/famersearch.php?id=20107.  However, I think it’s about time to double that number by getting Pete Metzelaars in as well.

After the tour we discussed the different marketing strategies the Hall has used to try to bolster its attendance both during Notre Dame’s football season and the off-season. Being a not-for-profit, they rely heavily on free advertising donated by schools and the NCAA. Yet, their methods seem to be steering attendance in a positive direction. 

Well I think I’m going to wrap it up.  And just because I know she checks the website regularly, 'Hi, mom.'  Thank you to all who made this trip possible, it has been even better than advertised.

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March 08, 2006

Wabash Network Really Pays Off

Matt Kanter - Today we opened with Bill Lovejoy, Senior Account Director for 2Fold ad agency based in Indianapolis. He discussed the finer points of product placement in a particular market and how this strategically important aspect for a product’s success can easily get overlooked by a company when formulating a marketing plan. We debriefed the subject over the following couple hours with Ken (Turchi) toying with ideas and developing strategies for various companies who could better appeal to their markets and therefore improve their business overall. See Wednesday photo album here.

Following lunch, we headed north to Muncie to visit Scott Smalstig ’88, President, Creative Director, and co-owner of joseph david advertising, a spin-off company from Rutter Communications. 

We knew Scott had an exciting afternoon planned when he greeted our group donning his Sphinx Club candy stripes accompanied by a navy sportcoat. I will admit he did not disappoint. After introductions and a company history overview, Scott familiarized us with a client his company currently represents, Sea Island Resorts, and had us, a group of college undergrads, develop an effective marketing strategy for that company!  It was an amazing experience putting the principles we learned over the past three days into real life practice and then compare it to how a multimillion dollar company handled the situation themselves, while receiving feedback and advice from Scott, that particular company’s president, the entire time. 

You have got to love the Wabash network.

In photo: Kanter listens to Ben Gonzalez make a point.

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Product Placement, Computers and Muncie

Nick Hunter - This morning, Bill Lovejoy spoke to us about the various ways to get a brand or product out in the market. Bill works for 2Fold, a division of Borshof, Johnson, and Matthews. He covered a multitude of topics from obvious product placement to more subtle methods. It was a great insight into the specifics of how a company gets products out there aside from the traditional 30 second television spot. I learned that though they probably won’t ever become obsolete, the 30 second spots are less and less appealing to companies as a result of technological advancements like TIVO and the increased use of the world wide web.

After lunch, we wrapped up our discussion on product differentiation with a specific case example involving computers. Unfortunately, I don’t know the first thing about computers, but because of what we had learned that day, I was able to pull some things together to participate.

The highlight of the day was our trip to Muncie and our visit to Joseph David Advertising, a marketing/advertising firm run by two Wabash alums. Scott Smalstig, the company president, gave us our first hands-on experience in marketing. He started off by getting our input on a few direct mail pieces aimed at Wabash alums. After that, he let us have access to one of the projects he was working on: Sea Island Resorts. It’s a project for getting the nation’s financial elite into a private community on Georgia’s coastline. As Mr. Smalstig led us through this project, we got a glimpse of what marketing/advertising is like when applied in the “real world”, outside of the textbooks. Following this, we went out to a relatively nice restaurant downtown Muncie where we got to know Mr. Smalstig better in addition to discussing the concepts and ideas we had learned that day.

In photos: Above left, Nick Hunter (far left) discusses morning session with other students. Lower right: One of the flyers aimed at Wabash alums in business.

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