October 9th Class Takeaways

Project Manager

http://99u.com/articles/6946/top-10-characteristics-of-great-project-managers

Laurie talked about Project Managers today in class. The more she talked about it the more I realized that this might be a good position for me when it comes to the real project we are doing. This would be a good thing on my resume especially because I am also in the Business Management degree program as well as the Marketing Program. I think it would create a strong resume to graduate with these 2 degree programs and have project manager of a big school project on my resume. I looked up a website that explains 10 traits of great project managers. Command authority naturally was a big one. It sounds kind of harsh, but really it’s not. What this means is that you are viewed by your team as a natural leader. You are looked at in a favorable way and you are valued by the organization. Set, observe, and reevaluate project priorities frequently was another one. The last big one I took away was look forward to going to work! A project manager needs to display a positive attitude and have a passion for the project or the team will not follow. All of the 10 traits were very helpful and I would recommend that anyone who is thinking about being a project manager to read these before doing it. This should help you to be a better project manager.

Constructive Criticism

http://www.targettraining.eu/giving-constructive-criticism-tips/

It is important as a project manager to give constructive criticism. This sounds like basic knowledge to do, but it’s not quite that easy when you are really in that position. This is always something I have struggled with and hope to work on. I used to be a team leader when I worked at a restaurant and this was something I really struggled with. Sometimes I would give criticism, but it was not constructive. Most of the time I would not say anything, but then it just kept on bothering me. This website gave 5 tips for giving constructive criticism. The first tip was to give concrete examples. I cannot stress how important this is. I have been told by my boss that sometimes they feel like I am lazy and not fully committed to the job. Then when I ask for examples they can’t give me any. So how can I change things that I am doing if they don’t give me examples. The next tip is to give the employee a chance to speak and help to come up with a conclusion to the problem. The 3rd tip was to tell the employee your vision for the future and tell them your expectations. The 4th tip is when discussing lessons learned, make sure you get input from both sides. Lastly agree on specific targets and timelines so both sides of the group walk away with a concrete guide on how to move forward. These were all helpful tips and if I find time I would like to learn more about giving constructive criticism.

Budgeting

https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/creating-a-project-budget-what-you-need-to-know.php

I know for our practice project we didn’t need to much about budgeting, and I’m not sure how much we will need to know for our non profit group projects. I think this is a very important skill to know though when it comes to becoming a project manager some day in the future. I found this website which helped me a lot to learn about budgeting for a project. One main thing this website taught me was that there were two ways to look at creating a budget. The top-down approach and the bottom-up approach are the two ways. The top-down approach is about deciding how much the project will cost and dividing up the money between the sections of the project. The bottom-up approach is about estimating the total cost of the project by costing the lowest level work packages and working your way up. This website explains all the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. The website also explains direct and indirect costs and how they will affect your budget. One thing I found interesting is that there were 5 alternative approaches to estimating budgets. One helpful tip that the website gave me was that it is always better to come in a little under budget than over budget. This website had one review from a young project manager who explained that although the website was simple it was extremely helpful to her and has helped her lead multiple projects.

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October 6th Class Takeaways

Different Programming Languages

http://www.devsaran.com/blog/10-best-programming-languages-2015-you-should-know

Paul talked today a little bit about the different programming languages in class. When I took the Web Development 1 class we learned about HTML and CSS and used the program Notepad++. Paul explained that once you know about 1 language it is easier to learn other ones. I found a website with the 10 best programming languages of 2015 that you should know. This explained to me the differences in the program languages which is what I wanted to learn about. There was a similar consensus throughout all of these companies and that was that they are all working to make their programming language more suitable for phones and tablets which are quickly becoming more popular than desktops. I will just talk about the top 3 Python, Java, and C++. #1 Python is an all in one programming language. Python language has the ability to expand web apps, data analysis, user interfaces, and many more, and frameworks are also available for these tasks. Python is utilized by bigger companies mostly that can evaluate vast data sets. #2 Java is currently seen as the top programming language to learn. When someone knows Java they are able to learn other languages. They have grabbed the highest position with Android OS yet again. #3 C++ is utilized immensely for creating hardware speeded games. This is known as the strongest of the programming languages. C++ is applied is in vital operating systems such as Windows.

Creating Websites

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhoXZDmf46M

Creating websites is something we did in Web Development 1 as well. I wanted to look at it from more of a design and marketing standpoint instead of looking at it as a whole pile of code much like a web developer would look at it. I found a video on youtube about 22 tips a marketer should know when creating a website. The video went over tips on how to make sure your website is a successful one. The biggest thing that the video stressed was that in order to have a successful website there are 2 things you need to do: Get Traffic, and Convert Traffic into Buyers (Traffic + Buyers = Success). Another thing the video touched on was that it is important that a buyer knows what your website is about within 5 seconds or they will leave. We have learned about this from Mike in our marketing classes before and also in the Emerging Web Trends class when we learned about web usability. One more important thing that I want to mention is that the video explained how important it is as a website to “stay fresh.” By always putting new things on the site it is rewarding customers who come back to look at it more than once. If the website stays the same for a long period of time customers will get bored. This video recapped most of the things we have already learned about website usability, but I think it was helpful to give us a reminder of what a good website looks like and does right.

The Cloud

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ-2gYd1Ces

I have always heard about “The Cloud”, but never really knew much about it. When Paul brought it up in class today I thought maybe now would be the perfect time to learn more about it. I went to Youtube and found a video titled “What is Cloud Storage?” This is somewhat of a cheesy video, but what they did was they simplified cloud storage down for anyone like me who does not know much about it. It explained that if I have a document that I want to save, I can save it to my computer or flash drive, but it something would happen to that computer or flash drive I would lose that document. What cloud storage does is it stores that picture in a large data warehouse somewhere and the person who created the document and anyone that person shared it with can view it at any time in any place. This seems similar to google drive to me. I back up a lot of my work on google drive so if anything were ever to happen to my flash drive that I would be able to access all of my work via google drive.

October 2nd Class Takeaways

Catch the attention of the customer first
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/handpicked-printed-brochures/
This website shows 50 examples of great brochure designs. I kept in mind the things that we talked about in class such as fonts, white space, colors, etc. The thing that I noticed about all the brochures that they had in common was that they all attracted the customers attention and that the customer knew pretty quickly what the brochure was about. A lot of them used catchy headers to gain the attention of the customer. These headers included pictures or logos that would catch the eye of the customer. From a marketing standpoint I noticed that each brochure was targeted towards a certain demographic or psychographic. An example of this is that the one for a farmers market. Judging by what I saw on the brochure it looked to me like it was designed for middle aged females. Its graphics were very artsy making me think it was targeted towards the hobbies of middle aged women, gardening, cooking, and art. I have also never heard of balance before today and I noticed in this brochure that it was very balanced. The amount of white space on the left and right were very close to equal.

Balance
http://www.sitepoint.com/principles-of-good-design-balance/
We learned in class today that it is important for websites, brochures, and magazine ads to be balanced. The exact definition of balanced graphic design is when the visual weight is distributed evenly either vertically or horizontally. I learned that darker pictures are considered to be heavier in terms of graphic design. In response to that pictures that are less dark are considered lighter in graphic design. It is important to keep the designs balanced. I wanted to see more examples so I looked up on Google some good examples of balance. The link above is to the website I found. This website was helpful because it helped me understand the idea of balance. I have never been very good at art so I have never heard most of these terms before.

Bad Design Examples
http://logodesignerblog.com/bad-ugly-worst-logo-designs/
I wanted to see some more examples of designs that do not work for people. This will help me in the future if I am looking at designs with a graphic designer that I can help understand what is good and bad in graphic design. The website I found shows many terrible designs. One of the things I noticed is that words are being covered up by graphics in some. This makes it hard to read for the customer because they have to guess what letters are being covered up. Another thing I noticed is designs that almost hurt the eye. One of them had really tight zig zag lines which made me feel dizzy. Another one had the name of the business on fire. Some of these designs have way to much content and need more white space. For fonts I saw Comic Sans a few times. The biggest issue I saw was that I couldn’t tell you what most of these designs are about. Sysomos, Cyrenian House, Fire and Hire, The Pool Doctor, and Titan were a couple of the logo’s that I did not know what they were trying to represent. I think it would be helpful for any amateurs like me to look up some bad designs to realize what to do and what not to do in graphic design.

September 29th Class Takeaways

Responding to Reviews
http://searchengineland.com/5-tips-for-responding-to-negative-customer-reviews-online-102136
I am the type of person who is always looking at reviews of businesses online, especially service based businesses. I love to travel and anywhere I go I look at reviews before I go. I think that looking at reviews gives you the most honest picture of somewhere that you plan to travel to. Of course you will never see 100% perfect reviews because everyone’s picture of the perfect vacation is different. For example a group of 6 college students are going to want to do different activities and be in a different environment than a retired couple who just wants a relaxing weekend sitting poolside in Mexico. I definitely favor companies who respond to negative reviews on Facebook and TripAdvisor. If there is a company who gets 4 out of 5 stars but most of the bad reviews are responded to genuinely then I will chose them over a company with 4.5 out of 5 stars who never responds to a bad review. It shows me that the company cares about its customers and wants to improve on their mistakes. I found this website that had 5 great tips to for responding to negative customer reviews online. The five tips are “have a game plan”, “understand the tools at your disposal”, “Learn how to mine the gold from negative reviews”, “study at the feet of the masters”, and lastly “don’t ignore it, it won’t go away.” I recommend that everyone looks more into these tips on the website link above. This is very important because the companies who respond to negative reviews will continue to grow while the competition is satisfied at where they are at and they don’t care as much about their customers.

Positioning in commercials

The two commercials I have posted above are commercial K-Mart came out with a couple of years ago. These were very risky commercials to put out and they make the puns very clear in them. The two titles are “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings”. They are very entertaining to watch and I think K-Mart was trying to position to a younger crowd of people. I know ever since I was young I never saw many young people in K-Mart’s and I think this was K-Mart’s way of targeting younger shoppers while also getting across a point you will never forget. Targeted advertising is when a company does marketing research to figure out what demographic they want to purchase their product or visit their store. Then targeting all sorts of campaigns towards that demographic. Most likely someone probably saw this commercial on channels that the younger generation likes to watch (MTV, ESPN, FOX, etc.). While doing more research into the “Ship My Pants” campaign I saw that they created magazine ad’s as well. The biggest thing they did that lets me know they were targeting the younger generation is that they created a hashtag for the campaign, #shipmypants. It’s important to remember that when you see a catchy commercial it’s often just a part of an entire marketing campaign that a company has created.

Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/CabinsForYou
After this semester of school is over my girlfriend and I are taking a trip to the Smoky Mountains down in Tennessee. When searching for a cabin I used most TripAdvisor and Facebook to look up a good company to stay with. We chose the company called, “Cabins For You.” Facebook pages are so important to companies nowadays. Facebook is almost as important as having a website for your company. There are 3 very important reasons for your business to have a Facebook page. The first is promotions. If a company has a Facebook page they can post advertisements and promotions for free. The second reason is that customers can share experiences and reviews right on the Facebook page. The Cabins for You Facebook page had over 10,000 reviews averaging 4.3 out of 5 stars. This made me very comfortable that we would have a pleasurable experience. Lastly it is in excellent way to get new customers through word of mouth. Facebook users can invite their friends to like pages and can write on the wall of the company about enjoyable experiences which all of your friends can see on their own news feed. If you own a small business and you don’t have a Facebook Page yet I would highly recommend getting one and keeping it up to date and the customers will come to you.

September 25th Class Takeaways

Technology-Marketing External Environment

http://www.axistechnical.com/the-importance-of-keeping-up-with-technology-in-the-workplace/

The marketing external environment is made up of many factors. The external environment is the factors you cannot control. The external environment contains Competition, Technology, Environmental, Demographic Changes, Cultural and Social Factors, Legal and Political, and Economic Factors. I think one of the most important ones is technology. Technology is uncontrollable, but it is important to keep up with it. I read an article about why it’s important as a company to keep up with technology. The article explains that if you do not keep up with technology you will fall behind your competition. Most of your competition probably has Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Instagram, etc. Keeping ahead of technology is a necessity if your organization anticipates long term stability and growth. It’s important to know your customers skill level with technology and stay on pace with them or soon you could become irrelevant. Companies often miss opportunities to improve communication with both employees and its customers. Companies also miss opportunities to improve on organization as well. CRM software is a great example of this. Lastly the article explains that there are companies such as Axis Group who offer system modernization services to help reduce costs and improve productivity. They will keep you up to date with technology.

SWOT Analysis

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm

For the project we are doing I have to create a Marketing Plan. Within that marketing plan I have to do a SWOT Analysis. One thing I wanted to learn more about was what to all put in my SWOT Analysis. I found this article on Mindtools Website. This is one that Mike always suggests we that we check out for more marketing information. In the introduction of the article they explain that the reason a SWOT Analysis is so powerful is because it can help a company uncover opportunities that are in their power to exploit. Also by understanding the weaknesses of the business it will not catch the company off guard when a threat occurs and they can manage and eliminate threats better. A good tip that the article gave me was to think of strengths and weaknesses within the company while opportunities and threats are outside the company. Some of the things to touch on in strengths are, “What do you do better than anyone else?” and “What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?” With the weaknesses look at, “What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?” or “What factors lose you sales?” This article really helped me out a lot. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when looking to create a SWOT Analysis and I would recommend using this article if you are creating a SWOT Analysis for a project or company.

How the Population is Changing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwfH1gYkXTw

Mike touched on this in class today about how the population shift we are seeing occurring is going to cause a huge difference in the way we do business. We are going to have to start marketing to the older generation as well as the younger generation. This video explains how from 1700-1980’s or so the population could be graphed as a pyramid. With the youngest generation on the bottom they were always the widest and as the population got older toward the top of the pyramid it got thinner. What’s happening now is that the baby boomer generation is living longer and there is a large amount of people from that generation. In 1950 the average male life expectancy was in the low to mid 60’s, whereas by 2050 the male life expectancy will be around 80 years old. Also birth rates are going down. Back in 1970 the average births per woman was around 4.5. Today it is around 2.5. This is largely because of the cost of raising children has grown dramatically and it is almost necessary for the mother of the family to have a full time job. This is going to affect marketers, graphic designers, and web developers in the future. For marketers we will have to make sure to target the older generation as well. For graphic designers it will be important to make fonts legible for the older generation and also for the blind. For web developers it will be important to do web usability tests to make sure that the older generation can use the websites without any hassle. These are just a few ways that the changing population will affect business. It is important to remember that as the older generation grows they will be a larger part of the customers making buying decisions for the household.

September 22nd Class Takeaways

User Generated Advertising
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/examples-of-user-generated-content
In the beginning of class Mike touched on user generated advertising. He used the example of Lay’s Do Us a Flavor campaign they started a couple of years ago. Each year 4 new ideas for a flavor of chips come out and we all vote on one. Last year I remember cappuccino, bacon mac n’ cheese, wasabi ginger, and chicken and waffles were the flavors. This year the flavors are Southern Biscuits and Gravy, New York Reuben, Greektown Gyro, and my personal favorite, West Coast Truffle Fries. This is a very memorable campaign. I wanted to look further into what other user generated advertising there was. I found out that the Doritos commercials we see during the super bowl are actually completely created and filmed by customers in the community. The winning commercial gets a million dollars, their ad shown during the super bowl, and a job at universal studios to help produce films. This was enough incentive to have 6,100 applicants send in a 30 second commercial to Dorito’s for a chance to have it aired during the super bowl. Another example I found was that Starbucks did a white cup contest where they served their drinks in all white cups with only the Starbucks logo on it. Then customers were encouraged to draw a design on the cup and the winning design would be featured on the new limited edition cups they were giving out. The website I have attached has 10 great examples of user generated advertising that really worked, and I encourage everyone to check it out.
McDonalds STP

Mike touched on segmenting, targeting, and positioning (STP) today. I have learned a lot about this in his marketing classes, but I think it is important to go over multiple times because it is so critical to creating and running a successful business. I found an excellent video on youtube about how McDonalds facilitates their STP processes. The video explains that most companies have brand managers for each product, where McDonalds actually has brand managers based on the market segments that have determined. So instead of having a Big Mac brand manager they have a director of young adults, a director or women and mothers, a director of African American consumers, etc. McDonalds is collecting data on the demographics that they have segmented and are finding new ways to target each one of those demographics separately. McDonald’s has taken a different approach to creating their brand and clearly it has worked because they currently have over 35,000 restaurants in 118 countries which serve an average of about 68 million customers each day. That is impressive!
Creating a Great Marketing Plan
http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2013/11/20/tips-for-building-a-strong-content-marketing-plan-for-2014/
For my part of our group project I have to create a marketing plan for our business that we made up. I wanted to know more about how to create a successful marketing plan, so I looked it up on Google. I saw an article on Forbes website called, “Tips for Building a Strong Content Marketing Plan for 2014.” Forbes has always been a great reliable website for me because their articles really take what we are learning in school and apply it to the real world. They have a lot of great information on their site for young entrepreneurs like me. Some of the tips that the website gave seem like basic knowledge, but the more I think about it, I don’t know if I would have ever thought about doing some of these things. The first thing they explain is to create a content calendar. On this calendar write down the big events that will be going on this year. Next figure out release dates for your marketing campaigns for each event. Next the article talks about collaboration tools. This sounds like big words, but it really just means that files can be uploaded and shared, tasks can be marked as complete, and workers can communicate over an interface similar to the social media tools workers use every day. Programs like this are quite inexpensive and save you a lot of time. Next the article explains to use imagery, not just written content in the marketing plan. This will keep people interested in the plan. The last tip that the article gave was to measure your results through data analytics. This is just a brief overview of everything. If you would like to read more into it, please click on the link above.

September 18th Class Takeaways

Branding
http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/branding
I have always thought of branding of a logo and what the brand makes. That was until I took Mike’s classes. Ever since I started the marketing program I have learned that branding is actually the feeling someone gets when they hear the name, see the logo, or experience the product. In the video that mike showed today it said, “Your brand has to stand for something.” Differentiation is huge when it comes to branding. What makes your brand unique? I look at my fishing gear business that I currently own. The way I make myself different is that I make buying fishing lures easier, cheaper, and more “hip.” I also sell at trade shows and what differentiates me there is that I am the youngest of all the sellers at the trade shows. I see that I really attract the younger demographic because they feel more comfortable talking to someone their own age. I think they also have a higher level of trust that I am selling them a quality product. Another way I differentiate myself at the shows is that I hand out business cards with the name of my eBay store on them so they can check out all of the gear I have online, not just at the trade show. To summarize, by Mike teaching me about branding, I have applied what I have learned to my business that I own now and it has been successful.
Sales 2.0/Relationship Marketing

Today in class we learned about relationship marketing and how businesses create relationships with their customers. Mike showed the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine video. In this video coca cola created a fun environment by setting up a vending machine that dispensed hundreds of cokes at once, a 6 foot long sub, flowers, pizza, and more. This was a simple and inexpensive way Coca-Cola created the feeling of happiness for one community of people. Yes they only did it for maybe 200 people, but with social media and youtube, that experience reached millions. The video alone had over 7,000,000 views alone. After looking more into it I thought about bud light’s new moto “up for whatever.” This commercial played during the super bowl last year. During the commercial the guy orders a bud light and he was asked, “Are you up for whatever happens?” He said sure and then he played in a life size pacman game in the middle of a whole party of people. Bud light wants its customers to feel the happiness and good times every time they drink bud light.
CRM Software
http://www.salesforce.com/
In class today we talked about Customer Relationship Management (CRM). There are two parts of CRM. There is the personable side where usually a CRM manager organizes projects to create relationships with the customers. The second part of CRM is CRM Software. This is something that I didn’t know much about, but I researched more about some types of CRM Software. The website I found was a company with what they claim is the #1 CRM Software. They position themselves by being an all online CRM software. “ There’s no infrastructure to buy, set up, or manage — you just log in and get to work.” They use something called “The Marketing Cloud.” This allows the user of the CRM Software to plan, personalize, and optimize the customer journey. This program allows 1 on 1 customer interactions and integrates all the data in real time. This is a program that I would someday in the future maybe use. I like the idea that I can see and analyze all the data in real time.