As I’ve mentioned before, the class I’m curently in for the summer at UMKC is Internet and Direct Marketing. It is part of the slate of required courses for the Business Admin/Marketing degree I hope to complete in December. Going into the class I thought it would be an extraordinarily difficult class to teach given the fact that internet marketing is constantly changing and so few things seem to be working. Why have the class? Clearly, more and more people are moving online, the internet has driven global business and has been home to a countless number of small business owners. With ever advancing technologies, we can expect this trend to grow even further, perhaps even to 1984-Orwell dystopian type nature. So, with traditional media sources being replaced, the ability to influence people to buy or use certain goods or services (marketing) online is going to be central to all in our field.
Without consulting the book that we are going to use for class (Lorrie Thomas’ The McGraw Hill 36 Hour Course Online Marketing Amazon). Here are a couple of things that I found that work for marketing online:
1) Regular Content
Updating regularly, keeping lots of posts, staying in touch, whatever you want to call it, it has to be done. The internet age has shortened attention spans and memory. Like elementary school teachers you have to continually refresh the internet audience to keep your brand in their head. I’m not talking making Daily Awesomeness (Chive On!) but weekly at the least. Unless you hit it out of the ballpark with one great ad. But it can’t all be bland, you have to make sure it is
I was going to add a section about humor but this kind of covers it. In business schools all around the world, students are learning the holy phrase “Differentiation”. That is to identify and promote the thing that sets you apart, be it personally or for a business. Example: Wal-Mart is low prices, Lady Gaga’s “unique” styling, or Lebron James’ unbelievable regular seasons and ultimately lacking postseason performances. On the internet if it’s not unique, people will catch you on it every time. And while the copy cat strategy is somewhat effective, (personally I’m a huge fan of parody), it is a lagging strategy that doesn’t really advance the business unless you do it better than the original.
I’m glad this class is not taking a case study approach to learning business. I despise case study. For those of you unfamiliar, a case study represents an in-depth analysis of a single event, individual, or group. For business schools, this generally means studying a business and a particular problem or industry issue. Examples of popular case studies: Netflix vs Blockbuster, Starbucks and premium coffee, Coca Cola and international relationships (branding). While case studies can open up new perspectives, give valuable research practice, and show practical applications to in-class learning topics, the way that they are presented in classrooms today forces very linear problem solving. By this I mean, students are not rewarded for creativity (an overall problem in US schools) and their ability to use the tools that they are being taught. Rather, currently methodology is programming students to respond to real-life business situations in a linear form, hoping to get a positive result by copying a similar case. This does not necessarily lead to failure and at least students are learning (in some situations) good steps to take, but ultimately it leads to the continuation of current (some say dated, some say inane) business practices. I believe that case study must be more properly presented in classrooms with educators learning appropriate situations to teach them and what real lessons the students should be taking away.
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