marketing

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Reflective report

I started working on this measuring marketing related task in early days of November 2009. When, I started working, my views about the topic were not very clear and whole picture was quite hazy. The very first thing, I did was to sit in front of my lap top and searching about measuring marketing on internet. There are many sites which came up instantly, giving me initial idea, as to what it actually means and what is its importance in modern business world. Once I got rough idea about marketing measurement, I started talking to my friends about it and initiated discussions among friends from marketing specialization. This way, not only me, but my friends also got involved in the topic and started exploring various sources of data & literature on this issue. But we all realised very soon that topic we are looking for is comparatively new and not much about it is available in books. Traditional books contained material on marketing techniques and promotional methods, but not about tools which can help in measuring effectiveness of marketing programs. But we did not get discouraged and started looking for other horizons, from where we could have got material. This was the time, when we started visiting libraries in Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi University and Indra Prastha University. But we soon observed that libraries were not of much help as these had traditional books only. In fact, It were only journals which had articles, on measuring marketing not the traditional books. Latest books on issues get in to libraries only after year or so. Finally efforts are being put on internet again, where assessing articles are bit difficult as most of the good articles get in paid sites. But internet proved very useful in locating desired articles at various places. During whole process of getting acquainted with the subject and collecting material on the topic, I kept discussing the issue of measuring marketing with my friends in academics as well as in industry. I had started making notes of various articles which i got in journals, books and at on internet. At the same time, my discussions with friends in in industry kept enhancing my practical knowledge about the topic and making me aware about various practical issues which organisations generally face when these try to implement mechanism of marketing measurement. Finally, i can say that learning and developing concepts about marketing measurement took me from internet to libraries then to journal. But it was not sufficient as , I have to interact with friends in academics and industry to get a practical understanding of subject and issues involved. I felt during whole process that academics is a bit behind industry in a sense, that events and advancements in handling these take place before in industry first, and then taken up by academics systematise knowledge acquired in business world. But there is no doubt that it helps others in industry in avoiding mistakes which few did in past or to adopt new moves taken by other companies to get ahead and be successful.

During the whole process of getting this work done, i personally learnt about importance of measuring outcome of everything in life. It is very much true that in every walk of life, we need to measure output for efforts we put in any area of life. A sales man is asked to show figures as how much he has been able to sell. A doctor is asked to give figures as to how many patients he has attended. A lawyer is asked to give the number of cases he has been able to won for his clients. Even a small kid going to school in fist standard has to show results as how much marks or grade he has been able to secure. Similarly in business activities, performance of all the departments are measured. Either it is production, procurement or human resource management department, each one is asked to show their performance in terms of hard facts and figures. But a hard reality is also that for marketing department, there are very less accountability as to what they have been able to achieve for investment incurred on their activities. While working on this project I learnt that it is the measurement for each activity, which is the first step if we want to manage it. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City also said the same thing that measurement is a must, if we want to manage anything. Otherwise also, we all know that basic function of management is to control and direct functioning of organisations so that resources can be best utilised in achieving business objectives. This study strengthened my views regarding measuring performance of each and every business functionary. It is very much true that performance of every functional department is business is evaluated and then only budget is allotted for their further activities. But it is only marketing department which ask increment in its budget without putting in figures of performance for their previous year programs. Marketing department rely on qualitative explanations for their demands for higher budget, which gets less favour from others. Sometimes even higher management don't get convinced by the rationale given by marketing department for budget enhancements. Many of my friends in industry told me that marketing professionals ask for budget allocation based upon a annual increment in last year budget or just a percentage of total budget of the organisation. But management feels that this not a proper rationale for allocating budget as increasing competition is putting up pressure on margins, which ask for smarter use already depleting resources for the organisation. While going through all these discussion, I personally got convinced that marketing department must come out clearly for the facts and figures for previous budgetary allocation utilisation and its outcomes. Keeping the marketing domain an mysterious in not going to make the system anymore credible and accountable. If we want to make the operations of marketing department more credible, transparent and on professional lines, we have to make measurement a reality for performance of marketing team.

It was also noticed, that industry people keeps flexibility in their views and actions so as to avoid any stronger resentment from employees, which may make their working unstable. It was also notices that there is scarcity of employees who are of quality and perform. There performing employees become habitual of liberty and freedom in their working. These employees take it negative, when attempts are made to measure their performance output. So, company has to be very cautious in implementing measuring marketing mechanism. It should not happen that efforts to map the mysterious world of marketing, turns out in loosing few brilliant and performing marketing employees. It happens when measuring exercise is perceived as initiated by middle management. That is the reason, why involvement and active support of top level management is always looked for this type of initiatives. May be, that all functioning and direction for these moves comes from middle management only, but perception in industry should come as it is a initiative of top management.

I also learnt during this whole process, that business world is becoming more and more completive by each passing day. Now days top management, which had absolute control over the functioning of the company till few years back, it is not same now. Middle management now has reasonable say in the way activities are directed and controlled. Middle management wants more say and liberty in functioning. This makes job of top management a bit more difficult. This situation has been fuelled more as competition is growing and at the same time demand for competent & performing employees. This is the biggest hurdle top management is facing now days in bringing in transparency and accountability in the functioning of marketing departments.

During the working I came across few interesting examples, as how measuring marketing helped some large organisations, in not only saving funds but bringing in more objectivity in the functioning of marketing divisions of company. One such example was of Coca Cola in India. Coca Cola advertising campaign was mainly based upon the targeting economically well off college going youngsters. Keeping in view, that this ia the class which remain active and interested in moves at national level, company focussed its advertisement campaign on television. Company also had a focussed strategy to give advertisement in mot popular news channels and family entertainment channel. These channels are with wide reach and appeal. Coca Cola advertisements were placed in prime time slots and these popular new channels and family entertainment channels. Costing for these popular news and family entertainment channels were very high. Company went ahead with advertising campaign on these looking for similar high returns in terms of sales resulting in revenue generation. But even after investing substantial amount of money, company revenue figures were not showing much incremental growth. This whole exercise put a question mark on the effectiveness of advertisement campaign. Then some serious discussions were made, and ultimately a exercise for measuring marketing was taken up. A survey encompassing whole of India was taken up to identify the consumer base and their likings, so as possible contact domain can be identified. There were few very interesting facts came out in this survey. It eas found that most of the consumers for Coca Cola are college going youngsters who come from economically well of families. It was also found that most of this consumer base is in metropolitan cities only. It was also noticed that this consumer group is not watching family entertainment channels or news channels, though these were very popular among overall population. This metro based consumer group, which formed major chunk of whole consumer lot, was watching English movie channels, spots channels and channels like National geographic etc. It was also found that giving advertisement in family entertainment and news channels were even affecting prospects of the company negatively. Equipped, with these findings of the survey, company made a swift change in its advertising policy in media channels. When pondering started for new advertisement policy, it came to notice, that English movie channels, sports channels and channel with adventure contents were far less costly as compared to family entertainment channels and popular news channels. So there was a major policy change in advertising campaign of Coca Cola company. Company started giving advertisements on these identified television channels and cut on the popular family entertainment channels like Star, Zee, Sahara and Sony etc. It not only saved the finances of the company but resulted in desired positive impact on the audiences resulting in increase in revenue. So finally company were able to make smarter use of its resources in marketing operation. This shows the importance of measuring marketing not only in medium size companies but even in large size organisations.

My experience about group working had not been very good as people show varying degree of interest in working. I felt that few members were very enthusiastic for work where as other members have not been very enthusiastic about putting in efforts. On various occasions, my sincere requests to accompany me in my discussions with people from industry were turned down, and i have to interact on my own. But it was not all negative, but some positive aspects of this group dynamics are also there. Group discussions help in streamlining the thinking of individuals and let elements of arbitrariness filtered out. Many a times, I also felt, that if made up some opinion for measuring marketing, but group discussions helped me it reaching for a matured opinion. While in group discussion, one gets an opportunity to look in to the issue from different point of view. Group discussions also help in filtering out any possible personal bias while making up conclusive opinion about the issue in consideration.

LESSONS FOR FUTURE PROJECT

Every activity and all the associations during conduct of this study gave me a lesson about how to acquire information from various sources and shape up all this information in the form of knowledge. Few important observations are listed below, which will definitely help me in future while conducting this type of study in future.

  1. While doing this study on measuring marketing, I learnt the advantages being planned and systematic. I learnt that by being planned, it saves energy and efforts in doing the same job, what it would have taken without being planned for work. Right from beginning, if one is aware that initial idea about the issue o be investigated can be had from internet and then one will proceed on to books and journals, it will help him a lot. Otherwise, one may get confused by working on some lines and finding in last that it was not correct to work on these issues. Besides that one has to start as afresh and keep on adding new material to it.
  2. Internet is a very useful source of information on all the topics. May be that information is not very authentic and correct from academic point of view, but it gives fairly good idea about any business topic and current trends in that domain of operation. It helps in framing a roadmap as how to proceed in a particular area of work. It is true that most of the good research world is available in journals and specific reports, generated by research houses, copy of which is not available on internet. But internet helps a lot in a sense that relevant material can be located as to where it is available and how much it cost. On most of site, abstract of the material is also listed. It helps a lot in determining relevance of the material, its availability and cost. Once these are known, researcher can identify how to proceed in the required direction.
  3. Group dynamics has its own advantages and disadvantages. Though, it helps in developing concepts and defining these, but that comas only at secondary stage. For getting in concepts and to gather information about it so as to weave the domain knowledge, one has to work on his own. Process of identifying people from industry and taking up initiatives so as to facilitate meeting with them, has to come from individual side only. If this exercise is taken in group, divergent views come resulting causing confusion among the group members. It works as a dragging factor, which slows down the whole process. I felt, that it is better if every group member tries and meet to people from industry to extent it is possible on his own. In last all group member can come together in discussing what so ever views they have got from professionals in field. Here after discussions, all divergent views can be summarised so as to generate comprehensive picture of the industrial scenario.
  4. It is tough to get practical views of industry professionals. It is observed that industry people prefer to keep their views in closet and not let these be known to others as they feel it may go against their interest. If we approach people from industry without ant reference, no body entertains. It only when we approach somebody in industry with some reference, that they take out time from their schedule and reveal what so ever views thy have on some particular issue. 5. Time is a important factor. One has to be cautious as time keep on ticking. Starting early helps a lot, which help at the end, as one gets enough in last for making iterative sessions for correcting the concepts and developing the most practical solutions for the business problems faced.
  5. One of the important factors, which influence is the time management. One has to adhere to the schedule, what so ever planned once. Right at the beginning a plan needs to be charted out, which clearly sets schedule for every activity which has to be taken up in coming time. Whole work should be divided in various modules with specific time slot attached with each one. This way every part of the study gets right quantum of time and energy. One has not to rush at last, overlooking the due process and deliberations required in last modules. Especially the modules of discussions alanysis, discussion and drawing conclusion are very important in any work and needs sufficient time. Out of these three modules, drawing conclusions is most important part as it represent the whole summary of work done and is used by senior management to be incorporated in their working.

CONCLUSION

This study proved to be very useful in making me learn the process of acquiring knowledge about contemporary business issues. While conducting this study, I went through the rigours of searching internet, libraries and journals for gathering information on desired issues. I found during this whole process that it is internet which is quickest way to gather information and develop a concept at initial stage, though it has to kept in mind that information gathered through internet may not be very correct and authentic. So at initial stage it help a lot in generating a initial picture of the overall scenario in concerned domain. But as one progresses, help of journals proves to be most authentic and correct. But it is costly affair if one has to collect whole information on his own, so institutional support matters. It is also observed that group help in developing concept gradually through mutual discussions among group members, but not in gathering information. Discussions also help in streamlining the concepts and view of individuals. It is also found that generally literature available lacks current advancements taking place in industry. It is only practicing professionals, who face the problems and comes out with practical ideas to handle these. So while conducting studies, a blend of academic investigation and views of practicing professionals is a must. Another important dimension of study is time factor. It is observed that if schedule for collecting information and analysing it, study leads to correct conclusions. Otherwise, generally at the end, data analysis is done in hurry leaving scope for inaccurate and misleading conclusions. So it can be safely said that being systematic, planned, clarity of objectives and clear roadmap about work help a lot in making study rational, logical and credible.