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March 05, 2007

An Interesting First Day

Ted Zimmer

Today was the first day of the marketing immersion program. Walking into the conference room of the Hilton Garden in Carmel, we were greeted by several products, ranging from a Ketchup bottle to Crest toothpaste, stacked neatly together on the front table. Mr. Roland Morin then preceded to hand students their very own product, which we would relate to throughout the morning. 

Mr. Morin proceeded to explain the basic fundamentals of marketing, what is and how to perform a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on a company or product, and the “Four P’s” of marketing (Product, Place, Promotion, Price). The foundation of marketing seems to be research, and as Mr. Morin explained just how much companies are willing to spend to know their customers and design their product, I couldn’t help looking at my Ketchup bottle, and seeing how many hundreds of thousands of dollars was place in developing this single product that might have cost around $3 dollars to purchase.

After learning the basics, we then dived into a Harvard Business School case study of STARBUCKS and how they marketed their product to become the number one coffee provider in the world with billions in revenue, and millions in profits. After reading the case study, we then preceded on our first “field trip.” Twenty minutes after examining in-depth what makes Starbucks so popular, and what type of individual purchases Starbucks, we found ourselves inside what could be considered the “anti-Starbucks” coffee shop of Broad Ripple. The Monon coffee shop was a little mom/pop store, which was the complete opposite of the corporate image Starbucks conveys. With lower prices, and a relaxed atmosphere, which consisted of couches, and little jazz music playing lightly in the background, many of the customers seemed relaxed as they read, or typed busily away on their laptops. Mr. Morin was nice enough to purchase all of us a drink (of coffee of course!) so that we could compare the difference in taste between Monon, and the mighty Starbucks which most of us were accustomed too. 

The examination of the marketing strategy of a major corporation followed by a field trip to one of it’s smaller competitors to see firsthand how they “sell” themselves was helpful in connecting the bookwork to the real world.  It is not often were one morning you examine the issues in class, and then in the afternoon experience first hand the real world applications of what you have just learned.

Picture: The students in the 2007 Marketing Immersion Program.

Marketing Immersion Kicks Off

Ben Esbaum

Today we started our 5 day program, and although at times it did seem slow, it ended up being a pretty productive and useful introduction to marketing.  We started out the day with 2 sessions in the morning that served as a primer for the rest of the week.  We learned the basics of marketing and the 4 P’s of the marketing mix.  Our instructor Roland is pretty funny, although at times it seems like most of the group won’t open up to his humor, which is really their loss.  He is very well-versed and experienced in marketing and has a laundry list of product design and marketing accomplishments. 

For the afternoon we made a trip to Broad Ripple to visit Monon Coffee, one of the many small, independently-owned coffee shops trying to compete with Starbucks.  Our second morning session was devoted to the total employee marketing scheme of Starbucks, in which every employee is depended on to build up the company’s name and loyal customer base.  So the goal of the visit was to see how a small coffee shop attempted to compete in the coffee industry.  It was pretty interesting to see the differences in the way in which the company was managed and the customers were treated.  Monon Coffee offered a nice change of pace to the quick in and out and often times impersonal nature of Starbucks.  One of the most interesting aspects of Monon Coffee was the honor system they utilized for their regular coffee brews.  They trusted customers to pay for the coffee they dispensed on a side counter of the shop’s main service counter.  Although the products were very similar, the atmosphere of Monon Coffee seemed much different and a bit more inviting.

After the visit, we had a short break and then ended the day with a short session on American Express and their most recent attempt at product extension: their OPEN program.  The program is designed to help small businesses with little access to credit, called microenterprises, obtain the appropriate funds to grow their businesses.

Picture: Roland Morin listens to students' ideas.