Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Just over two weeks have passed since TEDxLondonBusinessSchool took place. An initiative of the Marketing Club, this year marked the second installment of what has become a flagship event for the school. A team of students from across the MBA, MiM, and MiF programs worked together for nearly eight months to organize a full day of engaging talks and presentations.

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The theme of the conference was Regenerate with each presentation tackling this concept in a slightly different way. The opening session of the day focused on Regenerating Engagement. Among the highlights was a conversation between host Sean Phelan and 16-year old entrepreneur Nick D’Aloissio, who has invented a new technique for summarizing information. A review of developments in the online finance world by LBS alum and venture capitalist Nadeem Shaikh also got people talking.

In the second session of the day, speakers explored the concept of Regenerating Communities, including a talk on how genomic research will impact our lives, and a discussion of the London riots last year. After a lively lunch break where participants were free to mingle and network over tasty food, the focus was on Regenerating Business. Goldman-Sachs-trader-turned-leftwing-economist Lydia Prieg spoke about the need to regenerate capitalism while CEO of the British Banking Association Angela Knight offered her take on the fallout from the financial crisis the path going forward.

The last session of the day featured a series of talks on Regenerating Culture. One highlight was a charming exploration of Bharatanatyam dance by LBS student Pancham Gajjar, and another was a presentation and live painting by American artist Alexa Meade.

Our venue for the event, the Bloomberg Auditorium on Finsbury Square, was bursting at the seems with a capacity crowd of 300 people. Tickets sold out in just three days with the audience made up of business leaders from a wide range of industries including advertising and PR, consulting, finance, FMCG, energy, and the non-profit sector, as well as current and former LBS students and faculty.

The TED movement was founded in 1984 in California as a platform for sharing ideas related to Technology, Education and Design. Since then it has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon with several major TED events each year and hundreds of TEDx events around the world. Staying true to the original concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” the TED philosophy is all about short, engaging, and compelling presentations designed to get the audience thinking. With TEDx conferences, like the one hosted by LBS, the x means it is an independently organized event but follows strict TED guidelines.

Plans are already underway for the 2013 edition of TEDxLondonBusinessSchool including a bigger venue to accommodate the increased demand. Stay tuned for more info and get in touch if you’re interested in being involved!

Ira Dubinsky (MBA2013) was a member of the organising committee for this year’s TEDx and has been named Chair of the event for 2013.

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Flying back from Moscow to Munich, I am contemplating the great advantages of attending an international school such as LBS. I just finished a tour of St. Petersburg and Moscow on which I embarked with a classmate, and were hosted in Moscow by two other classmates. This is exactly why I love this school so much: The opportunity to meet individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and nationalities. I am now friends with individuals from approximately 40 different nations – for a German girl from a small hick-town in Bavaria, that’s quite an achievement.

So why is that so important? It is important as our world will grow smaller and smaller in the coming years. Product innovation and branding will be less local and more global – and a lot of that is due to the internet, which aligns global taste. This means that more companies will need to become global in their thinking, their mind-set, their taste and their processes. Values from their home countries should be kept at their core, but they will need to expand beyond this horizon. And this is where such an international crew as we are comes in: Who else to help transcend this step and assist companies with becoming truly global.

Which brings me to my most important learning of Russia. It is not true that all Russians drink vodka. In fact, neither of my classmates does. Which means that I didn’t drink any vodka in Russia. But I am hopeful that my British classmates will help me out next time I see them…

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In General

Posted by: Kristen

Although I’m always a bit wary of generalizations, I believe they can and do serve a purpose. For example, in marketing we constantly speak of a target demographic or market segment. By definition, these are populations for whom a given trait is generally true. Hence, generalizations can be useful, but they can also be limiting unless we recognize their constraints.

Let’s take for example the trait of height and look at the figure below.  The figure shows two normal distributions of height, one for males and one for females. The average height for women is 65 inches (5.4 feet or 165 cm) and for men it is 70 inches (5.8 feet or 178 cm). So, it’s true that men are generally, on average, taller than women. If we were to consider the sizes of clothes that men and women would need, we might even say something like “Well, men are taller than women, so men’s clothes should be longer.” This is fine, and we are in fact speaking about the population means for whom the majority of men and women would be near and for whom this statement would be true.

Figure from http://www.usablestats.com/lessons/normal, with my own dashed lines added at the means.

However, let’s look at the tail ends of these distributions. While the tallest man is taller than the tallest woman, the area under the pink curve but to the right of the blue dotted line represents the number of women who are taller than the average man. By stating that “men are taller than women,” we ignore all these women in the tail end of the distribution for whom it is not true. From a business perspective, our generalization may cause us to miss out on a potential niche market (clothes for tall women), but from a cultural perspective this further impacts the way we may feel about ourselves or anyone in a tail end.  The generalization, though true on average, implies that if men are taller than women, then women who are taller than the average man are somehow not as “womanly.” Similarly, men who are shorter than the average woman may not feel as “manly.”

In business, generalizations are a way of life. We use them constantly to describe our target demographics and their wants and needs which can be quite useful in determining what goods or services to provide. But the key is not to forget that while something may be true for the average customer, there will always be those for whom it isn’t. Knowing the average customer is important, but knowing only the average customer is limiting. By ignoring a tail end, we may miss out on valuable opportunities for inclusion both as businesses and as societies.

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Aiming higher

Posted by: Gudrun

I am currently sitting in an airplane which brings me from Munich to London for an elective. While I should be a good girl and do the readings for the upcoming course, I instead took to my PC to issue some random musings on business. To be more concise, some musings on the responsibility of business. I am currently working with a company on improving the relationships of their salesforce with retailers. Having watched over the past days – I hate to say it – shark-like sales guys honing in on mom-and-pop stores and pushing sales, I was moved to muse about the responsibility of business (and trust me, I am not often inclined towards such inner musings).

It is incredible how often companies underestimate the need to invest in people and relationships. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in employees, in partners, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. Coming out of a recession and being faced with a disastrous situation in Japan – of which we don’t know yet the impact on the global economy – the argument and opportunity for companies to invest has never been more compelling. In addition, if you check out the research of our Marketing professor Nirmalya Kumar, you will see that trust relationship are also worthwhile in financial terms. I am hoping that each single LBS student when faced with a similar situation would find it in himself and herself to stand up and take a stance. Guys, it’s not about being part of a group, it’s about being a pace-setter. You do have a responsibility as managers, and you should be aware of it.

Which brings me back to my client: I had a row of meetings with their executives this past Friday, discussing how and at what time starting to introduce a mindset change. They recognized that the one-way relationships they have hurt their sales and hurt their dealer network. This will cost them a lot, though. We will need to go in there and reform the values, incentives, bonuses, and overall thinking of their salesforce. I do firmly believe that the effort will be worth their while at the end of the tunnel. But, LBS community, I would implore you to always aim higher, defy group thinking if necessary, and do what’s right (but make sure that it will make money – we are not stupid, after all).

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