Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The 4th Level of Bloom's: Analysis/Synthesis

Now don't get too excited over the title to this blog post. I know you are all dying to read what I have to say about the 4th level of Bloom's taxonomy, but I actually want to tie together a little bit about how WOM realtes to the consulting business. On Tuesday, we had a guest speaker come to our Consultation Skills class and talk to us a bit about the consulting business. His name was Dr. Devin Smith, a manager with The Frankel Group, a consulting firm with offices in Cambridge. He touched upon a lot of different subjects; what working as a consultant is like, how time consuming the job can be, what ranks there are in most consulting firms, how much people in the business make. But what really drew my attention was the talk about marketing a consultant firm and its services.

Just like we've learned in our WOM class, word-of mouth was the best way Dr. Smith suggested to market a consulting firm. Someone is often looking for some outside help, brings it up in conversation with a friend, then that person refers you to a firm their company just had success dealing with. The key here is keeping current customers happy. Where have we heard that before? The best thing to do is to stick with the clients who appreciate your services, and continually come back to your company for help. In our consultation class, we've been reading Sue Dewine's, The Consultant's Craft. She too mentions word-of-mouth as being a really effective way for consulting firms to market themselves. She refers to this type of marketing as "indirect marketing". According to Dewine, "the first principle of marketing for consultants is to satisfy current customers." Just like what we've learned in our WOM class, you need to keep current clients happy. Special, VIP treatment can do wonders for an organization. Repeat customers can be social influencers and hopefully consumer loyalits to your company. With a solid group of satisfied customers, positive word-of-mouth will spread quicker than you think.

Now I know it'd be tough to develop a WOM marketing campaign for a consulting firm. I mean think about it, is the consulting business really all that interesting? I guess that depends who you ask, but for most of us probably not. However, this is one of those examples where a company can take advantage of really simple, traditional WOM aspects. There's really no need for product seeding, or an advergame, or a online community with team specialists and viral media players. All a company needs are a few important things: a good product, loyal customers, and people willing to share information about the company with others.

Pulling together information from both the Consultation Skills and the WOM class is no easy task, but it's interesting to see those few times when the two subjects actually relate and intertwine to one another. Anyway, that's my best shot at the 4th level of Bloom's Taxonomy, I hope Professor Dallimore is proud.


Kennie Swanson said...

Josh, if I were Mrs. Dallimore, I would probably be sheding tears of happiness for you! I think this is a great post not only for those of us taking both classes right now, but also for the rest of the class as well because of our consulting related project. Your analysis and synthesis of the two subjects was well thought out, and shows how these two seemingly different practices, can actually bring together similar principles.

I thought it was interesting that the most sucessful marketing for consulting companies is WOM, but do you think amplified styles of WOM could also work? When doing our consultation research assignment, the consulting company I chose had a very open and professional blog. From my impression I thought it was a great addition to their business, and it helped to identify them as opinion leaders within the field. Do you think other types of WOM could be effective?

FrankBenway said...

Josh, your post brings up a great point that Dr. Carl actually pointed out to me after my June 6th post about WOM in the DJ Business. Our class this semester has focused almost exclusively on Business to Consumer (B2C) WOM, but Business to Business (B2B) WOM is absolutely just as important, yet understudied.

I would argue that many of the firms we have studied this semester are promoting themselves through WOM. For example, many of the executives who run the companies we studied keep their own blogs. This not only allows them to share their developments with the rest of the 'WOM community,' but are most certainly tracked by potential clients before investing in their services.

KERandall said...


I'm sure Professor Dallimore would be proud. I would agree with you that I was suprised that these two classes tie together however, I believe they do very well. After all, we did do a consulting project for a word-of-mouth campaign. I think what you are speaking to here is the importance of referrals in businesses such as consulting. Professor Dallimore herself told us how she started off on a word-of-mouth basis. Her professor in college referred professionals he knew to her based on her knowledge, skills, and high performance in classes, etc. I would think this would actually be the best type of marketing for a consultant or small firm who is out there trying to compete with the big wigs such as McKinsey & Company or Bain. Having a small loyal clientele who is impressed with your work in the beginning, will be far more valuable in securing a secure clientele base for the long run.

ericrocksmyworld said...

I think the product seeding is one way for consultant's to spread WOM. But how can a consultant seed their product, you ask? Well, one example that springs to mind involves the consultant doing pro bono work for a non-profit, say a local homeless shelter. Or better yet, the consultant can use her teaching position to have her students do the pro bono work for her. Then, word gets out in the consulting and non-profit community, and the consultant gets recognition. Then the board of trustees at the non-profit hire the consultant for hundreds of thousands of dollars to do work for them.

Looks like Elyse understands word of mouth marketing. ;)

Walter Carl said...


I'm not sure how to read your last comment, despite the wink-emoticon.

It could be quite insightful if it weren't about Dr. Dallimore. There may be faculty who use student projects as a way of generating their own consulting business but I can assure you it doesn't apply in this case. And if it did it wouldn't be word of mouth marketing -- it would be exploitive, smarmy, and unethical.

I can assure you Dr. Dallimore's motivation is focused solely on a commitment to service learning which involes finding ways to achieve benefit to both the local community and student-centered learning experiences, something for which she *should* receive a great deal of recognition.

Perhaps further discussion about individual faculty members should be moved off the class blog.

ericrocksmyworld said...

Ok, sorry. I was just kidding, but I can see how you could read into it. Obviously she cares about the Service Learning, or we would be working with a for-profit. But remember, part of WOM is the freedom of speech associated, even if an institution disagrees.

Walter Carl said...

Agreed, freedom of speech is paramount, especially as part of academic discourse. For me it's a matter of what type of discussion is appropriate for a *class* blog. For example, it's a tricky situation when students talk about Faculty Member A in Faculty Member's B class or office hours. As a faculty member I want to be supportive to the student and listen to their perspective but it's also challenging because Faculty Member A is a colleague. During a class I tend to steer discussion away from the topic of individual colleagues, and to the extent that the blog is another venue for class discourse then I would do similarly. Like I said though this is a tricky area and one that is certainly open to negotiation. Clearly our class guidelines don't mention this issue specifically, and perhaps it should. What do you think? How should course blogging guidelines address the issue of students discussing other classes and, more specifically, individual faculty members from those classes?