It’s getting personal, bad for you Gettingpersonal.co.uk!

I’ve recently attended the graduation of my boyfriend who was awarded a First Class Honours Degree so in order to show him how proud I am of him, I thought a special gift was in order. Since he has already snatched a job as well, I thought a business card holder was a good choice as a serious, practical gift with the extra touch of engraving it to make it more special.

So as any digital native consumer, I searched the web for the company who would provide the best service for me and I decided to go with Gettingpersonal.co.uk. If only I had known, I would have been wiser than that. Part of my decision to go with them was the fact that they advertised a dispatch within 24 hours and that they offered a luxury gift wrap. Although the wrapping was an extra £5 and I knew I could have done it cheaper, I said luxury must count for something. I was expecting a nice box in which the holder would fit in perfectly, perhaps sat on a little foam and fabric bit to make it stand out. But I expected too much.

After 2 days of checking my account to see if it’s been sent, I decided to send them an e-mail to see what’s going on. To which I was replied this in what I found a very condescending tone from Mr Deric Tose from customer service.

Hello,

Because the order was placed at 17:32 on the 15th we began this order the following day and it is now due to be despatched today after 24 hours. Your order was despatched on 17/07 by Royal Mail 48, which can take 2-3 working days for delivery so it could still be in the post on its way to you.

All I wanted to hear was a quick sorry, it’s on its way, but oh no! Notice I didn’t deserve a ‘Dear Anca’ either, which they decided to add in the email asking me to review, so they can be nice when they want to. I really can’t figure out how you can’t make an order and dispatch it the same day if that’s what you advertise for. Fair enough, the time of order was late but one would think that in the morning they make the order and send it out that same day.

And that’s not all, when I received the ‘luxury wrapping’ was not at all luxurious. The ribbon was cheap and badly packaged in the delivery box so it was all wrinkled in a very ugly way (I expected wrinkles but not like that). The box was one of those £1 boxes from Clintons and the wrapping paper was awful. So I rewrapped it in another paper and fitted a nice luxurious ribbon to it.

Long story short, I’ve had enough of getting personal with this site. No more again!

Of advertising and social media

As I have mentioned at some point in my previous posts, I am currently researching my dissertation on the topic of the impact of social media on traditional advertising. Following the countless web links resulting a quick search on ‘advertising is dead’ and being told so by university teachers, I’ve set on a quest to see whether or not this is true. 

I’m now in the midst of my interviews with practitioners after reviewing what academics have said about it. And I must say that my findings so far have surprised me. ImageNow, in this map I’m moving from the Desert of Desolation to the Data Jungle so I’m still a long way from the end. But I want to share what I know so far. Sure, there are people who agree, there are some who completely disagree that traditional is dead and see social media as this huge hype and companies don’t know what they are getting themselves into. But what I have found is that the strengths and weaknesses of both complement each other making them a very well suited match in an integrated manner. So, if traditional advertising is very much one-way communication it has a great reach, frequency driving brand awareness and easing the creation of a brand image, whereas social media is interactive, two-way communication encouraging engagement from the customer and in this way creating relationships and, according to some, even loyalty. So while advertising is great for the first stages of attracting customers, social media can help in the following stages. 

Now, this might not come as any news to anyone, but I’ve been repeatedly told by practitioners I’ve interviewed is that brands haven’t quite grasped social media yet. Sure, some have and some are built entirely on it, but most of them still have difficulty because they try to treat it as another traditional medium. So, no brands, don’t tell us about your discounts on Twitter, we want to know you as a ‘person’. Since brands pump so much money into building a personality, one would think they try to act like a human as well. To make my point a bit clearer imagine a brand is a person at a very crowded party and all he (or she) does is talk about himself – ‘oh, I have so many muscles and so much money. I have 3 cars and a huge mansion and I’m smart, I’m expensive, I have many qualities, etc.’ Without ever asking about the other people there. Some might find this attractive, but the chances are slim. On the other hand, people talk about themselves but also about the weather, about the news, their views on politics, religion or their favourite music band. In the same way brands should talk about their products but also about any relevant topics. A great example of this is Pandora (the jewellery company, not the radio) which, in their monthly magazine, have articles on celebrities, on fashion shows, on outfits for special occasions or even on teaching their customers about different precious stones. All of this while seamlessly integrating their products. 

If you get a chance, have a look here. I truly love it and I like the fact that it’s monthly so it doesn’t shower me with content too often. 

Merger ahead

Some of you might not know, but I have another blog which focuses more on my passion to over-analyse ads. Since times are a’ changin’, I’ve decided to merge the two on this blog so you’ll soon enjoy some more advertising content in this space. To celebrate it, I’ve chosen a new theme and a new name. Just in case anyone was wondering what’s going on 🙂

Nothing compares to you, IDM Summer School!

It’s been a while since I last posted something, but I’m finding that the process of writing a dissertation drains the desire to write anything else. So this post might be a bit rusty, for which I apologise. Anyway, I’ve had a little ‘break’ this past week from the dissertation as I attended the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) Summer School. So there I was, exactly a week ago, entering the same building after almost 2 months from the assessment day (read here if you wish) not knowing what to expect apart from what’s written on their website.

It was nice to recognise people from the assessment, classmates from uni, but little did I know…The first day was really exciting – we met Simon Hall who talked to us about Big Ideas and Little London – a live and alive football-pitch-size model of London aspiring to be one of the top 5 attractions of the British capital. I’ll definitely be there to see it! Then we had a live brief from Havas EHS on a marketing campaign for First Great Western which was loads of fun to work on during the week and then pitch on Friday. The day ended with a lovely dinner with new students and past graduates mingling, sharing impressions on the summer school and the career ahead.

Mingling at the Monday dinner

Mingling at the Monday dinner

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Starting the week by getting to know each other

The week continued with learning about customer experience from Reynolds Busby Lee and an agency visit to Rapp which was very insightful and cool to see that they make work fun. We also learned about Big Data with Matthew Bayfield from Ogilvy and SEO with Susan Hallam, an enthusiastic, straightforward and very approachable presenter. I personally think universities should take higher interest in these aspects as they are the hottest topics right now, and crucial things to understand if you’re pursuing a career in marketing.

Where a lot the magic happened

Where a lot of the magic happened

And perhaps the highlight of the week was the networking event at The Goring Hotel with the sponsors, practitioners and none other than THE Rory Sutherland. Now, we’ve all heard how important networking is, but no one does it like the IDM Summer School! Us students have recently been told to improve our networking skills, but what they don’t tell you is that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s difficult to walk to a recognised professional and say: Hi, I’m Anca, a recent graduate and I want to know more about what you do. I don’t have that much to offer you at the moment but I’d love for you to give me chance. That’s tough! But what I found fantastic at the Summer School is that no one really cared about your professional status, everyone was relaxed to chat, willing to help and genuinely interested in you as a person. Because if you make it to the Summer School, you’ve already reached a peak that says something about your knowledge.

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland

Networking away

Networking away

I’d love to tell you more, but readers can only dedicate so much attention to one thing online. Drop me a line if you want to hear more of my adventures.

p.s. the food was amazing: delicious lasagna, mild chicken curry, rich chili con carne, creamy melt-in-your mouth meringues and crumbly but moist brownies are just a few. Just saying…

It’s never goodbye, it’s see you soon!

Reflecting on the experiences of the past year is a difficult assignment. Not because the year has passed without many adventures, but because the range of mixed emotions, unforgettable experiences and amazing people who have crossed my path is simply too hard to express in words, not even 2000 words. Nevertheless, I’ll take the challenge and brace it courageously, hoping I won’t end up flooding my keyboard with tears for the end of an exciting time. If the reader wishes to join me on this adventure, prepare for a truly empathic experience. As stories are what differentiate us as a specie, what unite communities and help us share experiences, what becomes “infectious” (McKinsey, 2011), let me share the story of my year.

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MACE persona

One of the first things that was transferred from my previous knowledge in marketing to design thinking was the need for a persona – a mixture of user profiles from a particular category, describing their demographic details, behaviours and lifestyle choices in order to use it for the development of user experience in testing (Idoughi et al, 2011). So here you are, the MACE persona.

Learning to think all over again

The number one and most enduring lesson I have learned in MACE is: empathise. Empathise with your customers/users as part of the design thinking process to create something innovative. Observe them, without interrupting the flow of their actions. In fact, empathy and observation are closely linked together and design thinkers observe the world in great detail in order to take a human-centred approach (Brown, 2008). And only they have done that, can they start the thinking and brainstorming phase. Because if you create something out of thin air that no one needs, you’ll simply become one of the many companies which don’t make it too far, one of the 85% of new products that fail when they come to the market (Wong, 2010).

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First product idea – a multi-functional iPad case

Lesson number two? Failure is good. Or, if I may rephrase, learning from failure is good –  as prototyping, going through several iterations and incorporating users into your design process means the feedback you receive can help you build something great (Innovation Management, 2011). It’s because failure is the proof that one is prolific in one’s ideas – since they can’t all succeed, failing some is proof that you actually have more ideas. And I learned it on my own in our business group called 42. The first product we wanted to make (among others that failed afterwards) was a customisable iPad case with changeable inserts to suit different lifestyles. It turned out people were quite happy with what Apple had produced. But empathy and learning from failure lead us to Tabli, which was one of the major rewards of the year. It was only when we observed children playing, mothers being busy and having trouble balancing child-minding and household chores that we managed to create a product to keep both of them happy. And it was only after different sizes and finishing processes were tested that we arrived at the finished product ready to put on the market.

Learning to start up

No, I didn’t miss the hyphen in there. ‘Starting up’ are two words that can definitely describe the past year as I had to adjust to a new country, a new home, a new education system, a new university and new, amazing people. For that I had to start up with a new life and it has been very rewarding, exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, sometimes I just felt overwhelmed and on the edge of quitting. But I’m sure glad I didn’t.

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At the Kingston Market Square Fair using face-paint to attract children to our stall

Now, starting a start-up was one of the biggest challenges that I faced as I would have never realised until going through everything, just how difficult it is. Starting with finding a team which proved rather difficult as everyone was a stranger more or less, I can now say I was lucky to have found the right people. And the struggle started right at the beginning as our group was slightly too large and didn’t comply to the rules. There were times when we weren’t on the same page, time zone or path, but what I would say defined 42 is unity  (‘teamwork’ is used and abused). That no matter how tough it was, we worked on it together, when we were annoyed we ranted to each other, when things weren’t quite right, we brainstormed and found a solution and we welcomed ideas from everyone for everything. An example of this was finding a promotional strategy for our first trade fair when we all put our minds to work and titles like Operations Director, Finance Director or Marketing Director didn’t impact in any way the effort or worthiness of the idea we were bringing to the brainstorm.

Winning £250 prize at Bright Ideas

We had to have titles in order to divide official responsibility, but what I think made us so successful was the fact that when it came to performing any task, we were doing it together. Because we were successful at it, Tabli sold in 48 units, we won a Bright Ideas prize, a Best Sales Team prize and we represented London at the Young Enterprise National Final.

Being part of 42 has helped me personally and professionally as I have developed my direct selling skills, I have gained practical experience in marketing and I now feel more confident in pitch situations and presentations for my desired advertising career. 42 has also inspired me to open my own business one day in the baking industry as I have discovered that with the right people, determination and enthusiasm, rewards soon come.

Regarding the process of creating Tabli, it was much like IDEO’s (2009) Human Centred Design process based on three stages: Hear – Create – Deliver.

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Hear – Create – Deliver (IDEO, 2009, p.8-9)

But even after learning about that, I would have never realised through how many iterations our Tabli would go through to finish the Delivering stage:

  • we first had a thicker MDF wood, so we changed it to a thinner one afterwards;
  • we first gave it one coating but that didn’t really work out and the brush strokes were visible. Then we tried spray painting and noticed it didn’t leave a nice surface which meant the chalk was very visible even after careful washing. So we returned to paint and tried rollers to make it smooth. Then Ray discovered that finishing all of that with light sanding followed by full chalking and washing would result in the smoothest, most effective surface;
  • we didn’t know how to package it so we thought of drawstring bags as the children could use them as a backpack as well but only after ordering them did we realise that just because the measurements fit doesn’t mean the bag will close;
  • we found that painting with black chalkboard paint in a room with a beige carpet isn’t the best idea but it’s something you can laugh at later;
  • we found that people you know are really important as we used acquaintances and friends to have CAD drawings of the product and produce our prototypes;
  • we discovered that being honest is appreciated by our audiences as our presentation at Young Enterprise National Final about our journey was very well received.

Learning to swim in a blue ocean

This might sound weird to some, but most of us are swimming in a Red Ocean: an ocean where companies obey the traditional rules of trade, produce commoditised products, their purpose is to outsmart the competition and they fight like sharks for profits. Blue Oceans, on the other hand, find a niche, define a market, change the rules and break the boundaries (Kim and Mauborgne, 2006). Attempting to do this as a brand might be hard enough, but MACE taught us more. It made us think as a Blue Ocean swimmer even for our own sakes: not to be part of the endless graduates that leave university, not to join just any environment or conform to the rules, MACE taught us that we should strive for more, challenge knowledge more, criticise, discover, never give up and surround ourselves by like-minded people ready to put a dent in the universe.

Learning about people

A major component of the past year has been the amazing, new, supportive and talented people I have known. MACE is a highly international course which helped in giving multiple perspectives of issues discussed in class and a chance for me to learn about more cultures, which is what I have always been interested in. From challenges such as Dragon’s Den to the happy moments like MACE Friday or a well-said joke, I have learned that even when it’s harder to accept the personality of others, each person will give you a valuable lesson about life.

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Part of the MACE class of 2013

Even though adding a new person to my network every day was not possible, I feel that I have understood the value and importance of networking more. I have built relationships with people who will work in the creative industries, just like me, my dear classmates and I hope I will always find some advice and help in them should the situation arise. Just as they are welcome to find it in me. I have learned about emotional intelligence and its components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills (Jane, 2006). But not just what emotional intelligence is, also how you can build it and its importance in my future career should I be in the position to lead creative people. Because this century’s organisation is made by people for the people. Another granted wish were the opportunities to network offered by the university: in class, in networking events, career events or my own efforts, as I had long dreamed of being able to do this. My undergraduate studies in Denmark offered similar opportunities, but these were hindered by my lack of acquaintance with the language.

Learning about value and power

Even though my previous background in marketing communications had acquainted me with some principles of new media and social media and I can feel these media’s power on my own skin, this past year I’ve learned more about the mechanics behind it. So that in order to create value in this social era, you need to stop thinking that the consumer is just the person at the end of the value chain. He is a co-creator now, he is part of a community that, if utilised properly with permission, can help your company grow. The social era is the time when how we organise, deliver and connect is changing and where innovation happens openly (Merchant, 2012).

Learning that school kills creativity…does it?

 Following Sir Ken Robinson’s (2012) TED Talk about the fact that educational curricula and systems tend to suppress creativity within people by placing the accent on traditional subjects like maths and literature, I was at a loss for a bit as to my reason for being still in university after 16 years of education. In the end, Khan Academy (n.d.) can offer education for whatever you are passionate about, for free. So why do we spend so much time in educational institutions, for a paper we receive at the end? But soon I realised, it’s for the social interaction. We need to be around people, to learn from others, both tutors and classmates, in order to be ready to go forward. As for killing creativity, maybe some schools/universities do, maybe most of them do, but there are some exceptions worth the while like the MACE course. Because in the framework it was allowed to work, MACE encouraged, challenged, disputed creativity, ideas, theories and outcomes. So I think it was worth it.

I can’t say I learned everything about design thinking, or about management and leadership, I can’t say I’ve decided on a definition and a list of the creative industries. I probably never will. But I can say one thing: I have learned about myself through learning about life and this is the most practical and valuable lesson I could take away.

References

Brown, T. (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review, (June), p.1-10. Available at: http://www.unusualleading.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/HBR-on-Design-Thinking.pdf [Accessed: 15 May 2013].

Henry, J. (2006) Creative management and development. London: Sage Publications.

IDEO (2009) Human-Centered Design Toolkit | IDEO. [online] Available at: http://www.ideo.com/work/human-centered-design-toolkit/ [Accessed: 18 May 2013].

Idoughi, D., et al. (2011) Adding user experience into the interactive service design loop: a persona-based approach. Behaviour & Information Technology, 31 (3), p.287-303.

Innovation Management (2011) Asking the Important Questions: A Guide to Design Thinking And a Better Way to Serve Customers | Innovation Management. [online] Available at: http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2011/05/30/asking-the-important-questions-a-guide-to-design-thinking-and-a-better-way-to-serve-customers/ [Accessed: 18 May 2013].

Khan Academy (n.d.) Khan Academy. [online] Available at: http://www.khanacademy.org [Accessed: 20 May 2013].

Kim, W. and Mauborgne, R. (2006) Blue Ocean Strategy. New York: Gildan Media.

McKinsey (2011) The power of storytelling: What nonprofits can teach the private sector about social media. [online] Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/the_power_of_storytelling_what_nonprofits_can_teach_the_private_sector_about_social_media [Accessed: 18 May 2013].

Merchant, N. (2012) 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. Harvard Business Review Press.

Robinson, K. (2012) Do Schools Kill Creativity?. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sir-ken-robinson/do-schools-kill-creativity_b_2252942.html [Accessed: 20 May 2013].

Wong, E. (2010) The Most Memorable Product Launches Of 2010 – Forbes.com. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/03/most-memorable-products-leadership-cmo-network.html [Accessed: 20 May 2013].

Life 39 floors above

It’s 9:30 am but it feels like I haven’t slept at all. I’ve been twisting and turning and dreaming about nasty judges. I don’t know why though, as we have rehearsed countless times both our pitches and we are prepared for the worst questioning. You’ve guessed it: today is the Young Enterprise National Final where Tabli is representing London together with Ferox. I get dressed and head off to meet the rest of my team and our supporting advisors: Bracey, Fazl, Janja and Gerry for breakfast at Carluccio’s in Canary Wharf. A coffee and croissant sounds nice right now, but the anxiety is building up.

After taking the wrong exit at the Tube stop, I use Reuters as a guidance to reach the square in front and meet everyone. “Ah, here she is!” It appeared I’m a bit late but everyone is smiling and happy and positive, so that calms me down a bit.

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I sit and think: wow! I’m in such a nice place. I’m not the one to be excited by buildings, but Canary Wharf has this energy that just pulls you in. As someone would later say that day: It makes you feel important.

So after a quick bite, we head to One Canada Square, the second largest building in London, to get our badges to go in to level 39. Little did I know at that time that L39 actually deals with entrepreneurship and is highly involved in supporting people in that respect. So we get there and as soon as I see the windows, I run to get a closer look. The view just leaves me…breathless.

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I never thought London could be so awe-inspiring. I am quickly pulled back to set up the stall and we are informed of what is going to happen throughout the day. We were lucky 42 was selected to do the investor and the public pitch first, I hate having to wait for these things to happen. For the stall, we decided to go with a childish theme integrated with our branding which would make full use of Tabli.

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And Ferox styled it up with an unusual stall, yet highly fitted to their stylish Tagline.

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Seeing everyone formally dressed all day, in such an elegant and fancy building, so high above that people were really really tiny, the cars seemed to be toys and Thames merely a little stream, I felt strangely confident. Confident that having made it so far, I’m finally prepared to be part of the professional world. We had a great team of advisors who kept our morals up all day and when it finally came to it, everyone could see the amount of work we’ve put in. You could tell which teams were the Kingston University teams, and the crowd loved our presentation.

And then the awards ceremony came. Unfortunately, 42 didn’t win any official award, though the judges stopped by to tell us that we had done an exceptional job and it was hard for them to make the decision. We were pleased that Ferox received the award for best presentation, although there was a shared feeling that they would have deserved more.

And as quick as it came, the day passed. So did the clouds on top of London. And all that’s left is the memory of the success we shared for even being there, for seeing how loved we are – as some of our MACErs came to support us – and for the people we made proud. Sadly, the night ended with goodbyes as Ray and Janet have gone to other paths in their life, but there’s always September to look forward to.

Tabli Chapter 3 – An unexpected twist

Remember in the previous chapter when I said that I’m really excited to see what happens next? Well, I promise you this my dear reader, you’re in for a treat!

After the Kingston Market Square Fair, where we won the Best Sales Team prize for our guerrilla marketing, the next challenge was going through the Dragon’s Den organised by Kingston University. A day of terror, anxiety and excitement to show what we have done to make Tabli an amazing product and what 42 has achieved as a company. So here we are, right before the pitch, ready to go in and face the Dragons.

photo-2It appears 42 did an excellent job at selling Tabli, not only to our customers, but also to the Dragons. Our introducing sketch in which I played the annoyed little sister to my older brother Ray conveyed the message clearly about who we are targeting and what Tabli is good for. Then Stine wooed the judges with our impeccable finances (done with the help of our clever MD) and we worked so well together as a team that … *insert drumroll here*…we were selected to pitch again in a face off with Ferox and two undergraduate teams (out of the 19 teams competing). We conquered that battle as well and we are now representing London with Ferox at the Young Enterprise National Final!

I have to admit I was really overwhelmed by all of this at the beginning as that would entail a whole new report, a whole new presentation, another Dragon’s Den and a whole lot of preparation. After all, we can’t disappoint the judges with the honour that we’ve been given.  And so far, we’ve done quite well. Our script is written and our business advisors are pleased with us, we just have to prepare, prepare, prepare! But our enthusiasm for Tabli will keep us energised. 

And then this week I also had my beloved boyfriend’s birthday, I had some issues with my dissertation and the proposal, I had to move out of my house and continue working on my projects as deadlines are fast approaching. And on top of everything we had our last classes yesterday which made me extremely sad. The geek in me loves learning things and going to uni and meeting amazing people and friends, and now all of that is gone, leaving a daunting dissertation instead 😦 

One thing’s for sure, these are times I will never forget.

Coming up next…

Wednesday is the Young Enterprise National Final and my next post will tell you all about what will happen there. Exciting times ahead so watch this space.

Time to face the music

Warning! This post is a reflection and may (will) contain a lot of mumbo jumbo.

This will probably sound like a stereotype on MACE blogs by now, but my posting activity has not flourished recently. Or not to the depth that it should’ve probably. And today the lesson was all about depth.

We had a great speaker in class today, named Tim Harries, who conducts qualitative research for Kingston University. While I won’t bore you with technical details, there is one thing I definitely took away from his lesson today: be curious. (Or like Steve Jobs liked to say “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish” – quoting Rashmi Bansal). Now that might seem a bit obvious to some, but it is actually harder and deeper than at first glance. The ability to be curious is something I have had to develop in my adolescence (it started there as a kid, but lost it on the way somewhere) to the point that I now ask as many questions as a 4 year old. That is why I’ll need to work on in my interviews for the dissertation. Because my dissertation really relies on those interviews, it relies on getting behind the statement “no, advertising is not dead” or “yes, advertising is dead” down to the reason why.

And maybe half way in the post would be a good (no, a late) time to explain my title. I’ve been avoiding writing for a long time. I’ve been avoiding putting my (rambled, scrambled) thoughts out there. And I’ve been purposely avoiding the ink that lets me write for advertising. Why? This is the time when I feel small. It’s the time I feel like I’m not perhaps making the best steps, both in my research as I will go to interview Big people and in my career as I push out all thoughts of what I should be doing in order to get one by hiding behind coursework. I just feel small. I guess finishing something you’re good at (being a nerd in my case) and something you love (studying – here comes the nerd again) makes you feel small. But it’s time to face the music.

How are coping (did you cope as a student) facing reality willingly or not?

An experience to remember

As I was informing you in my previous post, this past Friday I was given the opportunity to go to an assessment day for the Institute of Direct Marketing Summer School. Little did I know that it was going to be such a fun experience and one to learn a lot from irrespective of the outcome.

The day started on a really shy note as I turned up 40 minutes early in my attempt not to be late and beat the traffic, and early I was! Luckily, I was soon joined by a student from Oxford and another one from Cambridge. Talk about competition now! Although they were equally intimidated by me as I am a Master student in the field of Marketing, whereas they had more of an overall business background. Anyway, the day moved on and the room soon filled with students eager to show their best skills and be one of the elected few to benefit from a free week of studying in June in a recognised marketing summer school and potentially get a job from it.

The first task was a short introduction and a unique question to each participant ranging from who you would like to have dinner with to what household object would you mostly likely keep in case of an emergency (note to self: a knife seems like a strange answer, but it is actually very well thought through). Then we were soon divided into 3 groups of 5 and given the task of critically evaluating direct marketing materials from Virgin Media. I must confess, this  was the funnest part of the day, not because of the evaluation, but due to the people in my group I got to know and talk to.

The following activities included a one-to-one interview, a numerical and proof reading test, an initiative test and a 5 minute presentation on a topic of my choice.

For this, I chose a few interesting facts about tea and the audience seemed interested and enthusiastic to know about my passion which I deem a sign of success of my presentation skills.The initiative test put me on the spot of a unique situation within the work environment to assess how I would react and I must admit I missed out on a few points but it was also a fun exercise to imagine flying to Brazil for work.

All in all, I feel more prepared to face to tough world of interviewing now as so many students there were sharing. If I will be admitted to the summer school, I’m sure it will be an amazing experience from the little teaser which was the assessment day. If not, it has still been something I learned greatly from.

Being afraid of non-worthy ideas

Keeping in contact with friends is hard. Keeping in contact with unfamiliar people who take the time to read whatever your mind decides it’s worthy of launching in the universe is even harder. So for fear of exposing non-worthy ideas, you push back the time to write and you find yourself updating the blog after more than a month. Yes, I’m talking about myself. What can I say, I’m guilty as charged. But let’s mend that with some excuses/updates/events/non-worthy (?) ideas.

1. I’ve been working on the 42 business, creating more products and preparing for a new fair. And it seems that time does bring good ideas and experience as we appeared to have found our best painting technique yet. (Insert cheeky advertising: products are running out, so if you’ve thought of getting one, do it now! I’m not joking) The last fair we attended was special for us. We decided to go the extra mile in attracting children so we became a bit friendlier by painting our faces which brought us the Best Sales Team Award!

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2. I’ve been reading about the topic of my dissertation (which is an investigation of the current role of traditional above-the-line advertising in a much social-media hyped world) and it appears, to my great delight, that there are people out there who think just like me and there is empirical evidence supporting that advertising is not dead at all, but still supporting the branding and sales of a company to a significant greater extent than social media (more on this to follow, so stay tuned).

3. I’ve been accepted to a next stage in the interview process for the Institute of Direct Marketing Summer School (insert fireworks here yaaaay!) and I couldn’t be more nervous or excited at the thought of having a shot of getting in. Lessons are taught by practitioners and you get to work on a live marketing brief. For more information, visit their page.

4. Enjoyed Easter in no-Internet country Wales with beautiful scenery, mountain walks, cuddles and plenty of chocolate. Sorry, had to get that in.

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Hope to write again soon. Meanwhile, I’ll be pretty much like this.