Finance, Operations and Marketing are considered as the “JGSOM Triumvirate”. These three courses, I believe, are the three most important pillars in any business regardless of size. Of the three, despite to be noted as one of the easiest ones, Marketing is in fact, rather complicated. The course presents a challenge because assessing strategies proposed by students may have a more subjective dimension than a 50-50 balance along with objectiveness.
Truth be told, I don’t carry any seniority other professionals have (both in work experience, and in panelling). However, I have come up with just a few notes future Marketing 101 students should remember when it is their time to present their plans.
1. Do your research
Students are given roughly 5 months to come up with their marketing paper which includes industry overview, company background, consumer profile, their proposed plan and income statements as well. Following the adage, “content is king”, students should keep in mind that their paper should be driven by research. What are the company’s strengths–how do we utilize these? What are the offline and online behaviors of the target market? Who are the competitors of the brand? It must be said, however, to use data smartly. Don’t just throw in a bunch of number and anecdotes if they are irrelevant to your paper.
2. It’s all about Integrated Marketing Communications
It’s tempting to do so many things especially when you get excited, and you have so much confidence in your brand. Always keep in mind that you have one message which should be the anchor of all different tactics. Go back to your positioning statement and brand personality. You will definitely come up with countless ideas, but you always have to refine, refine refine!
3. Pet Peeve: “As mentioned earlier”
This is something personal but it irks me when students say this, mainly because It’s a waste of a good minute or two. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to improve whatever you may have said earlier. I know you were taught to say that by your teachers, but let’s be honest: It’s really annoying to hear, and for the panelist, it gives an impression that you’re cocky.
I have sat through numerous presentations and it’s always such a bother whenever I see typographical errors, and “typographical errors”. The former would be the obvious ones which were an oversight, the latter being the group having made a mistake in typing it and just didn’t really edit. Not only that, seeing numbers that just don’t add up. Recently, a co-panelist brought out her phone and did some calculating work in front of the group. There was a huge difference. That’s really embarrassing.
5. Don’t be cocky
Confidence is one thing, being cocky is another. One of my pet peeves is when students don’t know when to stop answering to comments/advices of panelists. What’s so hard with just saying, “Oh thank you. Will definitely consider that next time”? Just recently, two co-panelists of mine, and I, were giving our advice to a group, and one of the members was very much averse to it. He kept on saying that he truly believes in the plan they presented, and that he wouldn’t have changed anything (take note: their positioning statement had a huge disconnect from their target market and its behavior)
6. Good visuals help
You don’t have to pay someone to create your decks, or to do any animation work. You don’t even need to know how to use Adobe Photoshop. If you just keep in mind the elementary PowerPoint tips, you’d do well. Why is it important to have good visuals? Simple: It helps us have a better visualization, and appreciation of whatever you’re about to present.
7. The Q&A is everything
Each group should be prepared for the Q&A. Sometimes, it allows us to better understand your presentation. It is the opportunity for you to rectify any damage your groupmates may have caused to your preso. For me, the Q&A is also a chance to sew everything together–if ever your presentation is quite sloppy. To date, there has only been one group I didn’t ask any questions to because their defense was just spot-on. I only gave comments and that’s it. Quite rare, to be honest, given that I like giving inputs and testing students.
Those are my 7 tips which I hope students out there will find useful. I am looking forward to seeing better defenses in the future, and hopefully, soon, get to actually mentor students in Marketing 101. All about timing, and just believing in myself that I could!