Articles on this Page
- 08/20/14--02:52: _The Pitfalls of Pro...
- 08/20/14--03:09: _The Upside to Large...
- 08/21/14--03:35: _Problems, Conflicts...
- 08/21/14--03:47: _Six Key Findings on...
- 08/21/14--18:59: _How to land a job i...
- 08/21/14--19:07: _Why Marketers Want ...
- 08/21/14--19:42: _8 Things Every Desi...
- 08/22/14--08:03: _A way into the hear...
- 08/22/14--08:17: _Great Leadership Is...
- 08/23/14--18:49: _Uncovering insights...
- 08/25/14--19:53: _Northern California...
- 08/26/14--20:38: _Six Key Findings on...
- 08/28/14--00:59: _Keep Learning Once ...
- 08/28/14--06:30: _Top CIOs Get Deeply...
- 08/28/14--06:47: _Eight Surprising Ru...
- 08/29/14--22:30: _Diversity Is Useles...
- 08/30/14--23:16: _A Rising Tide Lifts...
- 08/31/14--00:06: _Reality Check: Help...
- 08/31/14--00:23: _Can we move our stu...
- 08/31/14--00:32: _Using “Mulligans” t...
- 08/20/14--02:52: The Pitfalls of Project Status Reporting 08-20
- 08/20/14--03:09: The Upside to Large Competitors 08-20
- 08/21/14--03:35: Problems, Conflicts and Decisions 08-21
- 08/21/14--18:59: How to land a job in social media 08-22
- 08/21/14--19:07: Why Marketers Want to Make You Cry 08-23
- 08/22/14--08:03: A way into the hearts and minds of managers 08-22
- 08/22/14--08:17: Great Leadership Isn’t About You 08-22
- 08/23/14--18:49: Uncovering insights on putting marketing theory into practice 08-24
- 08/25/14--19:53: Northern California earthquake is area's strongest in 25 years 08-25
- 08/28/14--00:59: Keep Learning Once You Hit the C-Suite 08-28
- 08/28/14--06:30: Top CIOs Get Deeply Involved in Merger Deals 08-28
- 08/28/14--06:47: Eight Surprising Rules That Will Get You The Job 08-28
- 08/29/14--22:30: Diversity Is Useless Without Inclusivity 08-30
- 08/31/14--00:06: Reality Check: Helping to Manage Student 09-01
The Pitfalls of Project Status Reporting
Our recommendation: In negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, President Reagan’s signature phrase was “trust, but verify.” Instead of taking an employee’s status report at face value, executives should solicit the opinions of others who are close to the project. In doing so, it is important to obtain views from different levels within the organization. If everyone corroborates the status, the executives can have much greater confidence in the accuracy of what has been transmitted.Inconvenient Truth 2: A variety of reasons can cause people to misreport about project status; individual personality traits, work climate and cultural norms can all play a role.
The Upside to Large Competitors
New research suggests that a smaller company can benefit by making consumers aware that it competes against bigger corporations.
Large competitors are often viewed as a major threat for startups and small companies; big companies have more financial resources and greater scale, market power and brand awareness than smaller ones. However, our research finds that a smaller brand can actually benefit if consumers can see the competitive threat it faces from a larger organization.
When Cold Stone Creamery, a U.S.-based ice cream chain with about 1,400 stores, moved within 50 steps of a J.P. Licks ice cream store in Newton, Massachusetts, some people expected that J.P. Licks, a small, locally owned company, would be beaten out of the Newton market. But consumers rallied around J.P. Licks, and Cold Stone later closed its nearby location. When the owner of the Los Angeles-based coffee store chain The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf could not stop a Starbucks coffee shop from moving in next door, he was surprised to see his sales shoot up — so much so that he started proactively colocating new stores next to Starbucks ones.
These examples are not anomalies. In six lab and field studies, we explored the effects of having a large, dominant competitor and found that highlighting a large competitor’s size and close proximity can help smaller brands, instead of harming them. (Detailed results of our findings can be found in “Positioning Brands Against Large Competitors to Increase Sales,” forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research. See “Related Research.”) Compared to when they are in competition with brands that are similar to them in size or when consumers view them outside of a competitive context, small brands see consumer support go up when they are faced with a competitive threat from large brands. This support translates into higher purchase intention, more purchases and more favorable online reviews.
As part of our research, we conducted a field study at an independent bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Upon entering the bookstore, 163 prospective shoppers were exposed to one of three versions of an in-store ad, emphasizing either the store’s large competitors, small competitors or no competition. Shoppers who read the “large competitors” version were told that the store’s main competitors are large corporations that have the ability to put small businesses such as this bookstore out of business. The “small competitors” version indicated the store’s main competitors are other locally owned small bookstores in Cambridge. In the “no competition” version, participants were given no information about the competitive environment.
Shoppers were then given a $5 coupon, coded with the in-store ad version they read. Analyzing shoppers’ sales receipts and the number of redeemed coupons, we found that shoppers were significantly more likely to make a purchase after reading the “large competitors” version of the in-store ad, compared to the “small competitors” version or the no competition version. They also purchased more items and spent more money at the store, compared to shoppers reading the “small competitors” or “no competition” versions. These results suggest that framing the competitive game and emphasizing a competitive narrative against a larger company can help a small establishment — and spur consumers to make a purchase that supports the smaller competitor.
In subsequent studies, we tested this “framing-the-game” effect in various contexts and product categories and further found that support for a large brand decreases when consumers view it as being in competition with a smaller brand. In one study, we asked participants to assess two hypothetical rival tire shops, “Tire World” and “Tire Planet,” under three conditions — small vs. large, small vs. small or large vs. large competitors. While participants indicated no preference for the small or large shop when it was competing against a competitor of similar size, the small vs. large competitive context elicited a strong preference for the small rather than large shop. Participants indicated they were significantly more favorable to the small “Tire World” shop in the small vs. large setting than in the small vs. small, and significantly more adverse to the large “Tire Planet” shop in the small vs. large setting than in the large vs. large.
We concluded that framing the game as a competition changes the way consumers view both competing brands and motivates them to express their views and to have an impact in the marketplace through their purchasing. When a brand is presented within a competitive context, consumers consider not only each brand’s attributes, but also which player they want to support and how they perceive their own purchasing actions will make a difference in the marketplace.
N. Paharia, J. Avery and A. Keinan, “Positioning Brands Against Large Competitors to Increase Sales,” Journal of Marketing Research, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jmr.13.0438.
Across the studies we found that, when they are perceived as competing against a smaller brand, large brands do not have to do anything explicitly wrong to trigger consumer boycotting behavior; they are, in effect, assumed guilty until proven innocent. Furthermore, large brands should be wary of overtly intense competitive maneuvers. While these strategies may not hurt large brands when they compete against other large brands, they may inspire consumer rejection when the competition is a small brand. Rather than moving in across the street from a small local café, Starbucks Corp., for example, should consider locations where it does not appear to be competing directly against smaller players.
We also analyzed more than 10,000 reviews from Yelp.com to further test whether a perceived competitive threat from a larger company elicited support for the smaller competitor. We used star ratings from Yelp as a proxy for brand evaluation. In an initial exploration, we found that in a large U.S. city, small, local establishments in the “coffee & tea” category had better average Yelp ratings when they were in close proximity to a Starbucks coffee shop than if they were located further away. However, we wished to control for a number of alternative explanations, including multiple Starbucks locations and varying quality levels of smaller establishments.
To control for quality variance, we focused on a relatively smaller chain of coffee shops, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, based in Emeryville, California. To control for the presence of multiple Starbucks locations, we used the number of times “Starbucks” was explicitly mentioned in the text of a Peet’s Yelp review as a proxy for competitive salience. We reasoned that if there were one or many locations of Starbucks nearby, it would be more often mentioned in the reviews. We predicted that if a higher percentage of reviews for a specific Peet’s location mentioned Starbucks, ratings of that particular Peet’s location would also be higher. For each Peet’s location, we recorded the total number of Yelp reviews, the number of reviews that mentioned Starbucks, and the average star rating. Overall, across the 201 Peet’s locations listed on peets.com, 24.5% of the 10,445 reviews explicitly mentioned Starbucks.
We found a significant positive relationship between the percentage of Peet’s reviews that mention Starbucks and the average star rating for a given Peet’s location. Furthermore, the effect was robust when looking at average ratings for the reviews that mentioned, or did not mention, Starbucks. If a location had 50 reviews and 15 mentioned Starbucks, the effect held whether we looked at only those 15 reviews or at the other 35 reviews that did not mention Starbucks.
These results show a positive relationship between the perceived salience of a large competitor and customers’ ratings; in other words, customers liked Peet’s better when they perceived it in competition with Starbucks. To further rule out alternative explanations, we replicated these results in a controlled lab setting, where we described a hypothetical coffee shop and manipulated its proximity to a large competitor. Again, we found that competitors near each other elicited preference for the small rather than large competitor, while competitors located further away did not.
Our research demonstrates the importance of considering a brand’s competitive context and illuminates how small brands can benefit from the real or perceived presence of a large competitor. Many smaller brands shy away from mentioning their competition in their marketing communications, especially at the point of purchase. Research has found that when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. enters a market, the most common reaction for incumbent smaller retail chains is to do nothing, at least in terms of advertising and the marketing mix. Our research suggests that this strategy may be unwise. For the framing-the-game effects outlined here to work to the advantage of small companies, competitive narratives should highlight the battle between small and large competitors, and this narrative must be made salient to consumers at the time of purchase.
Brands don’t have to be tiny businesses to benefit from such competitive narratives. Jim Koch, the founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beer, has over the years often compared his independent brewery to the behemoth Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC, framing the game to Boston Beer’s advantage with claims such as “Anheuser-Busch spills more beer than we make.” A Sam Adams advertising campaign entitled “Growing Up Small” attempted to remind consumers of its diminutive competitive position. Despite the objective reality that Sam Adams is by now a well-known brand, Koch deftly reframes the competitive game to benefit the Sam Adams brand. What drives the framing-the-game effect is not absolute size but consumers’ perceptions that a brand is smaller than its larger competitor.
Reproduced from MIT SLOAN Management Review
Six Key Findings on the Use of Theories of Change in International Development
Why Marketers Want to Make You Cry
A way into the hearts and minds of managers
Great Leadership Isn’t About You
Evoking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Donald Lehmann of Columbia Business School shared that reflection at the conclusion of the 2014 Theory + Practice in Marketing conference held at Kellogg. Lehmann’s remarks illustrated how practitioners and academics alike are in constant pursuit of discoveries that have the potential to solve huge problems, such as the challenges posed by big data.
“While data analytics is one of the big ‘it’ ideas of the current day, why does it matter? We all know it’s about gaining a deeper understanding of the customer and how you create more value,” said Dean Sally Blount ’92 as she welcomed top marketing faculty from across the globe to the fourth annual TPM conference.
Speakers who have held top positions at Google, Microsoft and Booz Allen imparted the following ways today’s executives can harness the power of big data — by emulating the wisdom of Sherlock Holmes.
1. Become a professional skeptic
“My education here taught me how to be a professional skeptic as opposed to an armchair skeptic,” said former Booz & Company CEO Shumeet Banerji ’90, as he reflected on obtaining his PhD at Kellogg. “Being a professional skeptic is about asking, ‘Is that true?’ ‘Under what conditions is it true?’ ‘Can you support that claim with evidence?’ Good questions beget good answers. It is about not accepting something is thus because a wise man said so.”
2. Emphasize decision-making over analytic output
Speaking to his time in the corporate world, Banerji said, “While analysts do analytics, nobody listens to them. You have to get line people to use analysis. And the way you get them to do it is by integrating the analytics into decision-making. What matters is decision-making, what doesn’t matter is analytic output.”
3. Don’t buy the quick-fix “anxiety sell” — hire the right people instead
Instead of trying to find flash-in-the-pan big data solutions, Tony Fagan, who leads a quantitative research team at Google, underscored the importance of hiring a Watson-like team with the right combination of skills. “It’s almost a fluency issue. They need a certain intuition with data, they need to know what questions to ask and they need to have some understanding of technology, because that, in my view, is what will affect marketing organizations in the future.”
4. Experiment your way to rapid innovation
As the economics of technology professor at Stanford and the former chief economist at Microsoft, Susan Athey knows a thing or two about how research principles can best apply to modern business, especially in the area of web search and online advertising. “At Microsoft and Google, algorithmic changes [in web search] are proposed frequently and exposed to a subset of users in randomized experiments. Every single thing that changes at Microsoft and Google in search goes through A/B tests. Experimentation allows you to incredibly rapidly innovate. You can have people come up with an idea, put it through an experimentation process, test it and ship it within a week.”
Ideally, all of this tinkering will have a positive impact on key stakeholders. According to Athey, “When you think about changing a [web search] algorithm, it’s going to change the outcome for all constituents. It’s going to change revenue for the platform, it’s going to change advertiser profits and it’s going to change the user experience. You’re constantly monitoring how changes you make affect the welfare of participants.”
Conference conversations revealed the value of academics’ and practitioners’ shared focus on developing an analytical approach to customer centricity — and forging collaboration between the two sectors is truly a case worth cracking.
Northern California earthquake is area's strongest in 25 years
The strongest earthquake in 25 years in Northern California struck early Sunday, injuring dozens of people, damaging historic buildings in downtown Napa and turning fireplaces into rubble.
Keep Learning Once You Hit the C-Suite
At 76 years old, Bill Ellermeyer is an elder statesman of the job search world. He founded an Irvine, CA outplacement firm in 1981, which he sold to staffing firm Adecco in 1990, then ran that office as a division of Adecco subsidiary Lee Hecht Harrison until going out on his own as an independent coach in 2004.
He specializes in what he calls “career transitions” for people who have lost their jobs at the executive level, mostly from the c-suite or as vice presidents. Some of his clients have been out of work for more than a year when they come to him. He pushes them until they find a new position. After three decades in the career coaching business, he’s come up with eight rules, some counter-intuitive, that he says promise to land his clients a job.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Raising, Communicating, and Enforcing Expectations in Online Courses.
As an instructor new to the online environment, I carefully reviewed the syllabus and the requirements for the course discussions and assignments and incorporated the following ideas from Myers-Wylie, Mangieri & Hardy: a “what you need to know” document that includes policies about late work, formatting, source citations, grading and feedback, and the dangers of plagiarism; a separate “assignments at a glance” calendar that details due dates and submission instructions; a “frequently asked questions” thread in the discussion forum; detailed scoring rubrics for each assignment, and example assignments.
As is typical in the online environment, my course was equipped with areas for announcements and discussions and a grade book with a place to post comments for individual students. I used all these formats to communicate with students about course requirements and provide detailed feedback. From the beginning, some students submitted their assignments without reading any of my sage advice. About a third missed the deadline for the first assignment. Several assignments were missing key components, and some exhibited major formatting flaws.
There was a flurry of questions in the discussion forum about the due date and format—answers to which could be found in the numerous documents I had posted. Student frustration mounted when I referred them to existing documents. Indeed, the instant gratification associated with the Internet has “trained students to expect help when they require it—on their schedule” (Creasman, 2012). I provided feedback by electronically editing each assignment and returning the marked-up documents. I was discouraged when I noticed that students continued to make the same errors on subsequent assignments—proof that they had not incorporated my previous feedback. Had they even seen it? It occurred to me that I would need to find more innovative ways to communicate my expectations. I have been able to raise expectations and improve the quality of work in my course by implementing the following practices. Set a tone of “no excuses.”
According to McKeachie (1994), when students know what to expect, they can be more productive. In addition to introducing themselves at the start of the course, I ask students to answer the following questions: (1) How will you make time for this course? and (2) What is your “plan b” for computer and/or Internet issues? When students answer these questions they are forced to think about potential issues and solutions before the class begins. Reading about how other students tackle these problems is also helpful. Introduce another voice. Students listen to other students. During the first week of class, I post an announcement that summarizes advice collected from previous students from the preceding class.
As a rule, this advice encourages students to keep up with the readings, follow instructions, work hard, and meet deadlines. Seasoned students will also advise new students to pay attention to the examples and rubrics. This advice is especially helpful to students who are fearful or easily discouraged (McKeachie, 1994). Students will have the opportunity to provide their own advice at the end of the course. Force engagement with the information. Online students are pragmatic. They need a reason to seek information, especially information that might not directly relate to an assignment that carries a grade.
I created an online scavenger hunt quiz based on the course logistics information and awarded extra credit points based on the quiz score. The quiz consists of 12 multiple-choice questions covering the topics of late work, due dates, grading, feedback, plagiarism, formatting, and the course textbook. Students are permitted to take the quiz as many times as they wish during the first week of class. Because my course is asynchronous, most students take advantage of the extra-credit opportunity and therefore become engaged and familiar with the information within the first week when it is convenient for them.
Although the extra-credit points are minimal (six points out of 1,000 course points), most students like starting the course with a few extra points in the grade book. Force engagement with feedback. Research supports corrective feedback as one of the most powerful ways of enhancing student achievement (Angelo & Cross, 1993; Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001; McKeachie, 1994). But it is not the giving of feedback that helps students learn, but the acting on feedback (Chappuis, 2012). I provide feedback to students by electronically editing their individual documents and placing them in a special feedback thread in the discussion forum.
One of my biggest disappointments was providing detailed feedback to students and having them make the same mistakes on subsequent assignments. I was spending hours providing feedback, but many students were not learning from my feedback. In fact, I was not even sure that they had found my feedback. To ensure that students find and open their marked-up assignments, I now include a feedback code on the second major assignment. The code consists of the student’s initials and a few numbers (for example, MR456). Students reply to me with their feedback code for a few extra credit points on their next assignment.
Most students take advantage of this extra credit opportunity, therefore assuring me that they know where to find their marked-up papers. Force engagement with peers. Most online courses require weekly discussion postings with responses to classmates. Indeed, “the best online instruction allows for students’ learning to be forged more through interaction with each other and less through instructor lecture” (Creasman, 2012). To encourage participation and ensure that students don’t tune out after they have submitted their minimum number of required postings,
I require students to review their classmates’ comments and submit a revised, polished version of their original post. The revised version is posted at the end of the week and is the version that is graded. In addition to commenting on content, I ask peers to provide advice on spelling, grammar, and conventions. I also comment on student forum postings throughout the week. According to Bullen (1998), instructors need to allow adequate time for follow-up discussion and comments. McKeachie (1994) agrees; more comments and more specific comments lead to greater learning.
Because the feedback for the discussion forum refers to the draft post, it occurs during and not after the learning, and therefore often improves the quality of assignments that are submitted at the end of the week (Chappuis, 2012). Provide student exemplars. My course is project-based, and although the course syllabus describes the expectations and provides criteria for the projects, seeing an example of a well-done project will help, direct, and inspire students in their own projects. Kerr (2009) agrees and feels that exemplars support student success and contribute to the development of the learning community. The first time I taught the course, I created my own exemplars. Now that I have taught the course several times, I share actual student examples (with names removed) as exemplar projects. Provide opportunities for student-to-teacher feedback. Halfway through the course, I ask students to provide me with feedback about how I might improve the course. I ask three questions:
What should I start doing? What should I stop doing? What should I continue doing? (Angelo & Cross, 1993). I allow about a week for students to respond, then summarize the results and share with students via the discussion forum. At the end of the course, I ask students the same three questions and one additional question:
What advice do you have for future students in this course? The mid-course and end-of-course feedback has helped me shape the course and make subtle changes. As the result of student feedback, I have simplified my late work policy and created an area in the discussion forum for students to share project ideas. I share students’ advice for future students and believe it is one of the first steps in setting high expectations for the incoming class. Taken together, implementing the practices described above has helped to improve the quality of the work submitted by students in my classes by setting high expectations from the first day of class and maintaining high expectations throughout the course. By raising the tide, I have lifted all boats!
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Unrealistic expectations present teachers with a conundrum. We want students to believe in themselves. We want them committed to doing well. But we need them to be realistic about what success demands.
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