Essay On Electronic Sources Of Marketing

3311 words - 14 pages

IntroductionThe proposal which will be central to the research outlined below is the marketing and promotion of a newly created Educational Voluntary Organisation involved in the promotion of debate within schools and Universities in Wales. Such an organisation faces particular challenges in marketing its services to a recognised group but with distinct difficulties in promoting its work in a crowded market place and where the consumers are not necessarily the customers.In particular we will need to identify:Why do teachers want to promote debating skills? Existing curriculum or educational trends with which debating could link and support.Developing the profile and projecting an image of expertise in theory and practice with the market and competitors/suppliers/partners? Identification and purchase of material or membership links with other debating/educational bodies.How to get the message to teachers, lecturers and students? The structures and contacts for entry into the educational market place.Is the product appropriate to the market? Identifying appropriate materials and resources as well as delivery methods.Has this already been done? Identifying global examples of where the work is underway or successful and where support, financial or other, has been found to complete the work.It is recognised that a range of material is available from a variety of sources which will include:Contemporary sources: i.e. trade press, newspapers e.g. The Guardian Newspaper (Guardian Society and Education), the Times Educational Supplement and a wide range of publications for schools on curriculum development.Government sources: including statutory bodies e.g. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (ACCAC), Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC), Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), National Assembly, Department for Education and Skills (DFES), Local Education Authorities, Education Leaning Wales (ELWa), Her Majesty's Inspectorate (ESTYN).Company/Organisations data: customers, competitors, suppliers e.g. Publishers, National Education Organisations promoting extra curricula activity to schools, universities and Students' Unions for debating societies and curriculum development, debating organisations in the UK and overseas such as the English Speaking Union (ESU) and International Debate and Education Association (IDEA).Academic: journal articles as well as conference material as well as academic institutes.While some information will be more specific than others all elements will cast light onto the issues within the task of developing the profile of a small educational organisation. It is recognised that the material may be useful for background information but less valuable in producing a finished paper. It will also include research material that may well assist with the implementation or development of the organisation. Allowing us to explore the methodology as well as discovering opportunities for the promotion of an education voluntary organisation.MethodologyGathering Marketing Intelligence from secondary data or by desk research is best approached as a structured task, rather than tackled in an ad hoc manner (Hague & Jackson 1999). The focus should be on identifying1. The area of research2. Sources of data3. Evaluation criteria4. Supporting sourcesHaving identified the research topic, the challenge remains the development of a search strategy utilising a range of key words combined with common sense. Thus an initial set of key search words (used individually or in combination with each other) would include:EducationWalesVoluntary organisationDebatingCommunication skillsKey SkillsHigher EducationCurriculumEducational developmentThe ease and convenience offered through research means while these terms may seem to restrict a search at the outset it is a small step to delve more deeply when further conclusions can be drawn from those sources.Critical Appraisal of Electronic ResourcesThe following three criteria have been selected to critically appraise data and assess its suitability for use:1. Availability of dataHow easy is it to access the material. Within this criteria we include issues of cost and language.2. Relevance to question(s)Much information may be available on the key areas identified.3. Strength of the sourceThe experience, current role and knowledge of authors and publishers will be reflected in the trust readers have in their conclusions. Relevancy and trust in the material will also be supported by statistical and methodological clarity. Questions must also be asked about why the material has been produced. Does it reflect a true picture or is it biased.Information SourcesSecondary data can be broadly split into two categories:InternalExternal(Zikmund 2000)Internal sources are created, recorded or generated by the organisation and external sources by others such as government departments, non-governmental organisations and commercial companies. As this research project is based upon a newly created organisation internal electronic information will not be relevant. However, the suggestions of individuals working for the organisation with expertise within education and the voluntary sector will be important to define the search parameters at the start.The internetThe internet is the main access channel to sources of electronic information, using keywords to locate appropriate web pages. The University of Glamorgan provide a list of over 10 search portals related to academic disciplines as well as a reference sections covering newspapers, periodicals and government sites. The internet is also playing some role into retail on the online purchasing of material which will be relevant to this research. However, the predominant purpose will be to loo at various web-sites to see what information ca be generated.As the issue being researched crosses a number of academic boundaries a commercial search engine Google will be used. Generally speaking, the Internet is a vast space and search engines make data easily available at no cost. Coping with the volume of references found is problematic, so choice of useful keywords will help keep the focus to relevant pages. However, the internet is an easy avenue for anyone to publish their wildest thoughts. Thus, the strength, currency, accuracy and bias associated with data found will require careful consideration and evaluation. Hence the advantage of the University portals if you are conducting an appropriate defined search of material. As a rule of thumb, weighting the focus towards organisations associated with major projects, charitable status, large membership, proven track record, reasonable profit margins, partnerships with government and Universities will provide some validity to the data discovered from these sites.The following information sources are representative of the information available in electronic format on the subject voluntary organisations, debating and education:Contemporary MediaAvailability of dataContemporary media covers magazines, periodicals and newspaper material. Media refers to a diverse range of sources emanating from the internet which include web based information, newsgroups, mailing lists and discussion forums. Whilst material from these sources is widely available, some contemporary information sources apply subscription services so there may be a cost e.g. The Times Higher Education Supplement ( www.thes.co.uk) requires membership to access certain news and discussion groups.Relevance to the questionsBecause the range of data available is so diverse, most of it will be irrelevant to the dissertation. However, there are undoubtedly some specialist areas focusing on education and voluntary organisations that will be relevant, e.g. mailing lists for BBC and The Guardian. Whilst these are not academic, data found should still provide considerable currency. All the major newspapers throughout the world have some form of online presence, some better than others. Many online versions have specialist technology sections that can provide useful information, and benefit from being fully searchable.Strength of the sourceOutside of the established media sources the key weakness will be in determining accuracy and bias levels. Contemporary media often have an editorial slant and the range of material is so diverse that there is no control over what is published. The Internet is renowned for its counter culture sites. The context of where data is found needs to be established and the data treated accordingly with emphasis given to larger more established news groups such as the BBC and National Broadsheets.GovernmentAvailability of dataGovernments take a leading role in education legislating on the national curriculum as well as supporting linked agendas within education such as citizenship, careers education and Key Skills. They will have an invaluable range of information as the policies, proposals and actions will be important for the organisations to reflect and potentially influence action in schools. On the whole information is readily available. In additional organisation such as the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (www.wcva.org.uk) also provide a valuable network and source of information.Relevance to the questionsInformation on the curriculum and educational initiatives as well as information on related organisations and resources can be found at the Department for Education and Skills (www.dfes.gov.uk), the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority ACCAC (www.accac.org.uk) and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training, Estyn (www.estyn.gov.uk). The National Assembly for Wales (www.wales.gov.uk) and Local Education Authorities sites (www.tagish.co.uk/tagish/links/localgov.htm) provide details on over all strategy and contacts for promotion of services and requests for support.Strength of the sourceInformation is accurate as Government sources cannot afford to misdirect important social policy but they also attempt to integrate theory into practice, providing advice and support. Much of the material is developed for practitioners by practitioners.Companies & OrganisationsAvailability of dataKey Commercial organisations involved in education will be exam boards and publishers. They hold useful information on material available and the type of information education practitioners will be familiar with. Examples of such publishers include Optimus publishing (www.optimus.co.uk) and Questions Publishing (www.teachingtimes .co.uk) Exam boards provide information on qualifications run in schools as well as information an other qualifications that may be applicable such as Key Skills. Examples of exam boards include the Welsh Joint Education Committee (www.wjec.co.uk) and the Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (www.ocr.org.uk).It will be important for the organisation to gather as much information as possible on currently. There now exists a plethora of on-lone book retailers but the most used is Amazon (ww.amazon.co.uk). Books are readily available and cover a wide range of subjects, indexed on the home page, many of which are relevant to this topic, and can provide good background to the research.Educational organisations and charities contain a wealth of good information. These fall into two categories. Firstly, UK organisation that provide a service to schools outside or complementary to the national curriculum, for example the Citizenship Foundation (www.citfou.org.uk. Secondly, sites that promote debate both within the UK and overseas, these include www.britishdebate.com and www.idebate.org. Some other debating sites include the World Schools Debating Championships (www.schoolsdebate.com), the English Speaking Union (www.esu.org), Debate Central (debate.uvm.edu), New Zealand Schools Debating (www.debating.org.nz and the South African Schools Debating site(www.ferret.co.za.).Relevance to the questionsThese sites provide a good example of how to promote and target the educational market as well from both a general and specific angle. Exam boards and publishers set and support the work of the national curriculum and therefore provide an insight in to what and how schools are expected to deliver. To a varying extent they all provide some overview of the type of materials used and those currently available relevant to debating and the curriculum.Strength of the sourceExam board information must be clear and relevant with good examples used of case study material, example work and so on. While publishers reflect a range of information and material heir value lies in the assessment of material available which is extremely limited as debating is not an official part of the national curriculum nor is it very popular as many staff are intimidated by the image of formal black-tie debates. By looking at successful charitable or voluntary groups we can reflect on what they offer that makes then stand out as well as getting an idea of what can be offered from debating. Education Publishers stock books relevant to the curriculum and provide a blueprint for the type of publications produced for schools. The same principle also applies to government related sites which assist teachers such as www.teachernet.gov.uk.Within education great credence is given to those materials written by practitioners for practitioners. This is often cited as a major selling point on reviews for the books for teachers. In a similar vein publications aimed at university students reflected a respect for past university debaters as authors. However, many of the debating publications are written by academics as debating in the USA is part of the curriculum and much academic material is available from the States. These papers are authoritative scholarly works, written by respected authors focusing on specific subject matter linked to themes of critical thinking and rhetoric. Also, academic texts are relevant in the area concerning the principles of marketing in the voluntary, not-for profit sector.Books take a long time to produce but the better ones are recycled with new editions every few years. Books can be expensive but they do have the great advantage that they are often written for a large audience of laymen, new and existing practitioners and can be the most relevant and accessible forms of information.Examples of some books available include:Pros and Cons: A Debater's Handbook ~Trevor Sather (Editor), Will Hutton (Editor)Routledge, 1999NTC's Dictionary of Debate (General) ~ Jim Hanson. National Textbook Company.Basic Debate ~Leslie Phillips, et al National Textbook Company, 1997Many Sides ~ Alfred Snider, Central European University Press, 002AcademicAvailability of dataAcademic journals are widely available electronically. The University of Glamorgan "FINDIT" portal provides a variety of mechanisms to search journals electronically. A number of academic conferences, university departments and academic institutes have associated web sites along with comprehensive searchable listings of UK and US theses and dissertations e.g. www.Theses.com (UK) and www.Theses.org (USA).Relevance to the questionsThe above areas cover a wide range of topics, some of which are relevant to the topic being researched. This is particularly true in relation to the United States where debate is a much more central activity in academic life. Much information also exists on educational theory and the management and marketing of voluntary, not-for profit organisations. Also, sites give a good indication of planned and recent research conducted.Strength of the sourceThe strength of academic based material include rigour of thought and production and in many cases peer review. Peer reviewed articles are authoritative, reviewed to provide consistency of quality. The downside of peer review is the time taken to publish articles. Notwithstanding, journal articles are smaller, and are often published quicker than books. The benefits of conference papers is that they tend to be "works-in-progress", and thus are more up to date than journals.The one major failing levelled against academic writing is the failure of practitioners to engage in the process or for the material to be written for use by practitioners. Here is what Stephen Brown (1995) has to say about Marketing Journals:"Some of the most enthusiastic contributors to the journals of the 1950s and 1960s were marketing practitioners...sightings of practitioners are becoming increasingly rare in British and European Journals, which have long prided themselves in horny-handed empiricism, relevance and applicability."Another downside to academic sites and on line journals is that in some cases access restrictions and registration costs apply.ConclusionThe associated weaknesses of academic material to provide the necessary pragmatic and practitioner focus combined with the wariness of material thrown onto the internet by 'self-styled' practitioners means that official governmental sites provide the best focus to work from. They also attempt to integrate theory into practice, providing advice and support. However, what is lacking in many of these cases is innovation and daring as these providers are loath to suggest that teachers could do even more to improve their skills for fear of a backlash against the whole project. Therefore this information should be combined with established organisations who conduct innovative programmes and promote a range of methodologies.Publishers and companies should be approached with care as their aim is to sell or promote their services and products. For example, The book reviews provided online by publishers and retailers such as Amazon are of fairly limited use as they are generally written to market the book, not necessarily to inform a reader of the subject matter, its relevancy or sources. From a research point of view, such sites can only provide information on additional sources of information.A global focus on material is facilitated by the internet and this will be important as the vast majority of references to debating are dominated by sites outside Europe.Use of the Internet should also result in this being a low cost route to finding information. The difficulty will be in selecting the most relevant and robust locations. It is a line of research that cannot be ignored. However, it is still the researcher's task to critique the information prior to use and assess its relevancy to the research being conducted.Conducting research is not a perfect science, and always involves trade-offs involving a number of factors, e.g. availability, relevance, accuracy and cost. The availability of electronic sources makes it easier and quicker to discover a great variety of data. But there are additional risks as much nonsense is included with the gems. It is now easy for anyone to publish his or her thoughts and ideas without the base of academic rigor. Academic portals provided by libraries help us avoid much of this information. Researchers must therefore resist the temptation of "easier to get, easier to use", and maintain due diligence in inspection of data collected.BibliographyBrown S (1995) Life begins at 40? Further thoughts on marketing's 'mid-life crisis", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol 13 (No 1) pp. 4-17Chisnall, P (2001) Marketing Research (6th ed. McGraw-Hill)Hague, P & Jackson, P (1999) Market Research - A guide to planning and evaluation (2nd ed. Kogan Page)Proctor, T (2000) Essentials of marketing research (2nd ed. - Financial Times Management)Smith, D. V. L & Fletcher, J. H (2001) Inside Information - Making sense of marketing data (John Wiley & Sons Ltd)Zikmund, W G (2000) Business research methods (6th ed. Dryden)

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