Shadowing The Patterson Group (Sales and Marketing Organization)

“How am I supposed to know about a culture I’m not already in?” To be completely honest, I contemplated that same question prior to this assignment. All throughout my life, I consider myself to have led somewhat of a sheltered life and often hesitate to step outside my comfort level, worried that I might come across something I’m not entirely familiar with.  In my opinion, the attempt to understand a culture other than your own is nothing short of admirable, however it was still such a foreign concept to me. With that being said, this job shadow opportunity helped tear down those self-hindering boundaries and instilled a newfound interest in experiencing as many career routes (relevant to my major) as possible.

When I declared a major in economics last August, I had not the slightest clue what type of career path I would find myself following after graduation. These were the courses I found most enjoyable up until that point in my collegiate career, so I figured I would give it a chance. Upon that decision, I was recommended for a summer internship in an up and coming sales and marketing organization, known as The Patterson Group, INC. This was a flattering compliment to the utmost degree, however the internship revolved solely around retail and sales. Realizing I had zero experience in either department, my self-set limitations were becoming more and more prominent. That isn’t to say that I was opposed to the possibility of this career path, it was simply another instance of my ignorance working against me. My older brother, who has been working as a sales representative at East Penn Manufacturing for the past three years in both Chicago and St. Louis, assured me that sales would be fitting for my personable attitude and that I should reconsider my naïve assessment of the opportunity at hand. I did exactly that.

The Patterson Group was established in 2003 and has been in business for nine years and six months. It is a sales and brand development firm with two primary divisions of operation. The sales division places consumer products and consumables into national retailers ranging from Dick’s Sporting Goods to Macy’s department stores. The brand development division assists companies with their brand message, logo and marketing. To place product into major retail, The Patterson Group is a full service organization. “Sales and marketing have distinct duties, but ultimately they have the same focus and perspective: reaching the consumer and promoting sales”(Organizational Structure for Sales & Marketing, 2008).

As I walked into The Patterson Group, INC primary office in Sewickley, PA, I was immediately greeted by the group’s lone receptionist. Waiting for her to confirm my appointment, my eyes began to wonder throughout the open lobby. The soothing sound of water flowing coming from the center fountain settled my anxious nerves as I awaited the arrival of owner and founder, George Patterson. As the elevator doors opened, an energetic character came strutting out. Although he was rather short in stature, I could already tell he had a larger than life persona about him, a quality that is likely a testament to his success.

There’s a friendly, yet endearing energy surrounding him that put an optimistic grin on my face as I shook his hand. I had known him for less than a minute, and I still would have probably bought whatever he was trying to sell to me. In a sense, I suppose that was his sales pitch for that day. George kept emphasizing the benefits and advantages one can reap from sales with the help of a personable attitude and relentless work ethic, especially with the right mentor to help guide you along the way. At this point, I knew I would be intern with The Patterson Group. My certainty was solidified by George, a man that major businesses respect and place their trust in, and his willingness to guide and teach me everything there is to know about his job.

George’s job can easily be perceived as “the middleman.” Companies seeking to gain exposure in certain markets and specific regions hire George to do exactly that. Once a mutual partnership is made, George begins contacting businesses that he believes will show interest in whichever product it may be. Whether it be making appointments at the business’s headquarters or coming in contact with them at trade shows, George’s responsibility is to pitch his products in the most appealing way possible. Through a broader perspective, The Patterson Group as a whole covers a variety of different responsibilities. “A sales and marketing organization represents the selling unit in the legal sense. It is responsible for example for product liability and other rights of recourse; customer deliveries; business partner contacts; and direct mailing campaigns. It also helps you to offset business operations internally”(SAP library, 2006). George says, “Experience typically leads to success. You start to understand what certain retailers like, what they don’t like, and how to present in the most appealing way possible.”

George soon invited me to accompany he and his associate to a one of the largest trade shows of the year. This is because trade shows are typically where The Patterson Group generates the majority of their revenue. This event was the International Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida. We would fly down at 5am on Friday morning and return in less than twenty-four hours. The length of the trip seemed so peculiar to me. I compared it to an extremely abbreviated vacation, however I would eventually come to find that this is the lifestyle of a career in sales.

On that Friday in January, George arrived at my house at 3:45 in the morning, I might as well have still been asleep. As I stepped into his car, I expected my mentor to be in a similar trance-like state that I was in at the time. To my surprise, that was quite the contrary. George seemed like he had been up for multiple hours prior to that, animated as always, but looking to begin his lesson plan for the day. “What will make the biggest difference between me and you from each of our respected starting points will be the mentoring.” George was alluding to the fact that when he graduated from college, he was left to figure everything out about sales and clients on his own. “With me sharing my own personal knowledge and experience over the past three decades, you’re going to be light-years ahead of where I stood when I was in your shoes.” Anticipation for what could unfold that day slowly brought me back to consciousness.

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Although I was somewhat irritable from the lack of sleep, I began to observe George in his element. Realizing he was on a first name basis with several airport employees, I asked him how intensive his travel schedule was. “When I was fresh out of college my only goal was to make as much money as I possibly could, therefore I pursued as many potential accounts that I possibly could have, and in doing so, traveling about four to five days a week. Things have changed since then though, I was a kid, I had a lot of energy, and didn’t have a family yet.” I saw this as a very respectable quality in George. Not only did he lack the mentoring that I was given, but he also modeled an undying work ethic in order to compensate for his lack of guidance. I began to take mental notes while we waited to board our flight.

The topic of his weekly traveling tendencies made me wonder what his job requires of him the few days he is home. “I typically wake up around 5am, head over the office, play catch up on emails, and verify upcoming accounts, orders, and flights. I’ll usually wrap up sometime around 11-12pm.” My initial thoughts on his non-traveling schedule were very favorable, however one must consider the exhaustion you feel after a long stretch of conferences and plane rides. “Most people (personal friends, family, clients, etc.) see me as the funny guy that drives fast cars and loves to goof around, but that’s only because they see Saturday/Sunday George. They have no idea how hard I push myself the other five days out of the week.” The way he described that mentality was fascinating to me. I now strive to model my work ethic after his, due to the success it has brought him.

After one layover flight, we arrived in Orlando in the early afternoon. We immediately went to The Orlando Convention Center where the Surf Expo was being held. As I walked through the main doors, my first view was unlike anything I had originally expected. I had assumed the expo would have just been filled with a room full of people, just like George, looking to gain new clients. To my surprise, it was anything but that. This massive banquet room was filled with wave pools for product demos, catwalks for beachwear modeling, and sand volleyball courts throughout. I was overwhelmed to say the least, however George didn’t appear to be the least bit phased by the allure of the Surf Expo. At that moment, I realized that this was nothing out of the ordinary for him. It almost seemed like he had tunnel vision deliberately set on finding his next client.

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As he inspected the landscape of the expo, he was able to locate his most notable and successful account, Bodyglove. This account is based out of California, but gets much of its business on the east coast. This precisely the reason why George’s relationship with Bodyglove has flourished over the years. Realizing that the east coast was lacking the laidback, “beachy” lifestyle that the west coast is often connected to, he figured there was untapped potential within this company and could very easily market it on a national basis. George then introduced me as one of his interns, to several key figures in the company. As a result of his admirable efforts, the executives I had just met attributed much of Bodyglove’s recent success to The Patterson Group’s professional representation.

I was intrigued by how professional these men were despite their deceiving surf attire. Nevertheless, one of the most important things I saw on this trip was the relationship that George shared with his partners. Assuming these bonds were fueled in the interest of business, it was humbling to see them showing such a genuine interest in each other’s personal lives.

As the day progressed, I met more company executives than I can recall. All of which assured me how great of a mentor I had found myself, advising me to listen to everything he tells me. Even though it wasn’t necessary in the slightest, this was just further confirmation of how highly regarded of a man George is in the industry, which left me feeling extremely grateful to be taken in by such a positive influence.When the expo began to clear out George still seemed to be looking for business and gaining additional contacts in the process. In my mind, it finally registered how this much of a continuous building process this career is. The job is never quite over, due to the fact that you need to establish future connections with as many people as possible in order to maintain success. Regardless, with the help of my mentor and the experience of this trade show, I felt like I gained a whole new perspective in a department I had previously known nothing about. I look forward to experiencing more of these opportunities this summer as I begin my internship with The Patterson Group.

Sources

http://smallbusiness.chron.com

http://help.sap.com

Legalization of Marijuana Attracts Big Time Investors

Two college classmates are on the verge of an economic breakthrough in the United States. Brendan Kennedy and Michael Blue, both graduates of Yale’s MBA program, are hoping that the state of the United States’ drug tolerance may soon adopt a more favorable outlook on a widespread legalization of Marijuana. This point of view may be considered “wishful thinking” by some, however this friendship turned partnership seems to think otherwise.

image reserved by futurepocket.com

image reserved by futurepocket.com

Much of their certainty in this prediction is supported through the documented recordings of Colorado residents’ individual weed intake, coming as a direct result of Congress’s approval of legalization in the fall of 2011. The state of Washington saw nearly an identical response, further supporting the optimism of these men.

According to USA Today, a recent study has shown that 52% of Americans approve the legalization of this drug. This poll suggests that the national outlook on the matter is slowly starting to reflect that of the west coast’s favorable viewpoint. Assuming that the legalization of marijuana comes sooner rather than later, they have established their own private-equity fund based out of Seattle, WA. The purpose of this fund is to accumulate any promising small marijuana-based businesses in order to eliminate the competition that could possibly pose as a threat to their future plans. Through this technique, Kennedy and Blue plan on creating a mega-power within the industry.The name of this private-equity fund, Privateer Holdings.

Image reserved by Russ Bellville

Image reserved by Russ Bellville

These actions can be warranted by confirmed projections fourteen more state approvals in the next four years. With the market expanding at this rapid of a rate, it becomes all the more obvious why these men are taking action so far in advance. In terms of the legal market, an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue will be generated in 2013. Keeping that jaw-dropping figure in mind, it is believed that this number will quadruple by the end of 2018.

Earlier this semester, I dedicated a post to the privatization of liquor stores in Pennsylvania and the positive impact that I believed it would h our ave on economy. Although I still stand by my opinion, this particular outcome would pale in comparison to that of the impact prompted by a national legalization of marijuana.

Legalization-Gallup-2011

Downside to Legalization

  • Marijuana is still considered a gateway drug
  • It may cause an increase in lung damage to users
  • It could possibly increase the number of users (including children)
  • Nonusers may be subjected to the threat/dangers of users (drivers under the influence of weed)

Upside to Legalization

  • Large influence in aiding (by taxation) our national deficit to recovery
  • National crime rates would undoubtedly improve
  • Studies suggest that marijuana may be key component in curing cancer
  • It would allow law enforcers to focus their efforts on larger, more dangerous threats

Regardless of whichever viewpoint you may side with, one must first take notice of how substantial the benefits are compared to the detriments it may cause. In addition to the positive influence our economy is so desperately in need of,  the possibility of curing the world’s most fatal disease should outweigh all disadvantages of legalization combined.

I understand that achieving the the majority’s approval is easier said than done, especially when taking into account the immoral label the older generation often connect it to. However, a time must come where we decide to evolve the outdated ways which society conducts itself for the sake our nation’s best interest. That being said, I fully endorse Brendan Kennedy’s and Michael Blue’s route towards economic achievement.

Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Down the Sequester

In recent news, this year’s sequester has been taking up a great majority of the leading political headlines. For those readers unaware of what the sequester is, it’s typically referred to as a collective group of cuts in regard to the cost of federal expenses and officially made effective on March 1, 2013.

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Based upon this understanding, one might question how something along these lines even came about in the first place. In response to that probable question, the sequester was originally proposed as a result of the debt ceiling compromise. Through this compromise, the debt ceiling was approved to increase by as much as $2.4 trillion dollars in 2011.

The “Supercommittee” for who the passing of this law was originally directed towards was assumed to have eventually cut $1.5 trillion over the course of 10 years. However, the compromise failed to meet these expectations, which consequently resulted in proposing the sequester, in hopes of salvaging the goals that the previous passing failed to meet.

Some consider this “Budget Control Act” to have taken effect a little late. Upon President Barak Obama’s reelection, it was believed that this act should have taken order right at the beginning of the new calendar year, however the expiration of the Bush administration’s tax and payroll cuts delayed the enactment of the budget modification.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

While reading this post, a question of where these cuts are coming from may cross one’s mind. In response to that probable concern, the funding of the sequester is believed to come from an even split between defense and domestic programs. One notable advantage about this is the exemption of cuts taken from most of the more important programs like Medicare and Social Security, for instance. Keeping that in mind, the 2013 sequester is projected to rack up an estimated $85.4 billion in cuts. President Obama said there won’t be an immediate impact felt by these cuts.

In a long-term perspective, similar cuts are expected to occur from 2014 through 2021. These total federal outlays will continue to increase by an average of $238.6 billion per year during this time frame, however in this case it is assumed to be at a much lesser rate because of the sequester. In terms of the spending outlays, a reduction of $995 billion with $1.2 trillion in debt reduction is the expected total by the end of 2023. These astronomical figures have attracted much criticism among the informed public, leaving many to argue that these cuts be delayed until the economic market improves.

A question that is much more relative to my blog site is how this new policy will impact the economy. Experts predict that the national GDP will drop about 1.5 points by the end of 2013, translating over to roughly $215 billion in lost revenue.

spotlightonpoverty.org

spotlightonpoverty.org

Regardless of whether or not these the posed theories prove to be as effective as we hope, it will be interesting to see how our recovering nation responds to these plans and in which areas the cuts are felt most severely. I hope to have given my readers a basic understanding for what policies the United States will be imposing over the next decade. A topic that will undoubtedly gain recognition in months to come.

References

– http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/sequestration-effects_n_2996101.html

– http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/06/politics/cnn-explains-sequestration

– http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/02/white-house-to-enact-sequester-cuts-friday-amid-questions-over-impact/

March Madness Economics

In honor of one of my favorite events of the year, March Madness, this weeks post focuses on the profit that drives this American tradition. For most people, the NCAA Basketball Tournament is one of the most nerve-racking, yet enjoyable contest any sports fan could voluntarily subject themselves to. Whether it be in the office or the local sports bar down the street, diehard fans across the country spend countless hours trying to create the “perfect bracket” in hopes of claiming the overall cash prize upon their selection. With as big of a following as this event produces, March Madness has progressed into one of the United States leading and most profitable contributors in all of minor league sports entertainment. In saying this, this yearly tradition has created and fueled an entirely new aspect of economics in some of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It is said that in today’s society, athletic programs have evolved into one of the most lucrative sources of income for many of their respected institutions. In 2011, The University of Texas reported an estimated $150 million of revenue solely produced from their athletic department. This was considered among the highest revenue earnings ever recorded by any major college or university in the United States. However, for the rest of the institutions that fail to match U of T’s ungodly monetary value, the NCAA tournament presents the perfect opportunity for those to compensate.

(image courtesy of .espn.com)

(image courtesy of espn.com)

One of the purest things about March Madness is its capability of shedding light on some of the country’s smaller colleges or universities and, in doing so, granting them national exposure. In a field of sixty-four teams invited to the tournament, a representative of every major men’s division 1 basketball conference is given a spot to compete amongst the nation’s best. What draws in much of the tournament’s fan base is the possibility of witnessing the potential “Cinderella story”, when a small market teams happens to go the distance, while upsetting teams with some of the premier grossing markets in the process. Teams such as; Butler University, George Mason University, and Davidson University have all been prime examples of such an occurrence. When schools are as fortunate to experience something as remarkable and unlikely as this, they then become the main beneficiaries of their success. Meaning, alumni feel inclined to contribute more so in annual donations, a rapid jump in ticket sales/merchandise, and creating a more favorable/appealing representation for high school students entertaining the thought of attending one of these recently discovered programs. On average, by advancing on to the third round of the tournament, the Sweet 16, the school’s applicant pool rises over 3% the following year, creating a larger annual gross. And for teams not nearly as well known on the national stage, the percentage could very easily double or triple for that matter. That being said, the price of a deep run in “the big dance” is invaluable.

Part and Parcel Images

(Part and Parcel Images)

According to the posted image above, during the twenty day span of March Madness, the NCAA Tournament is estimated at grossing over $12 billion in combined revenue. This astronomical figure takes into account all major expenses that a day in the arena may entail, ranging from tickets/concessions all the way to TV advertisements and corporate sponsorships. Aside from the teams participating, the tournament creates an opportunity for several other companies to prosper. Overall, this event has an economic impact on so many different aspects than one would initially presume, while offering a great deal of leisurely relief and entertainment as well.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://theivycoach.com

http://www.thedailybeast.com

The Power of a Logo

As I am beginning to develop more of a conscious interest in techniques used by companies to market their products, I find myself focussing an unusual amount of attention on the logos they use as their public representation. It seems that after establishing themselves in which ever respected industry they may be aiming for, most thriving companies use their logos as their primary source of identification in that market. We, as ordinary citizens, come across hundreds of these logos on a daily basis without even taking a moments notice to realize. Whether it be Nike, Pepsi-cola, or Mercedes, logos now stand for something way more complex than just an association to the company’s name. These logos represent a quality, a standard, or even a status that comes by way of the public connection them in modern day society.

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Believe it or not, one of the world’s most iconic logos, the Nike “swoosh”, was originally drawn for a mere $35 dollars back in 1975. http://stocklogos.com/topic/famous-logo-designs-and-how-much-did-they-cost. Little did designer, Carolyn Davidson, know how influential this logo would eventually become. The simple swoosh would later evolve into a testament/lifestyle for athletes around the world, thus coming to be one of the world’s most identifiable trademark emblems. In a more practical sense, this logo would become a symbol of a company which takes in over 24 billion dollars in yearly revenue.

However, a large chunk of this company’s yearly intake can be attributed  to the Air Jordan brand, which is still classified as a Nike product, despite its larger than life reputation that is still rapidly building since its first appearance in 1985. Image

And since the greatest basketball player of all time just celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this week, I figured I would shine a light on the success of his iconic trademark. In 1985, Michael Jordan became the first professional athlete to market the image of his success (on the basketball court) in a product that he was endorsing. Something that seemed to be so absurd at the time quickly turned Michael into one of the most successful athletes off of the court as well.

With six world championships and a myriad of business ventures that keep him atop the annual athletes top-earner list long after his final retirement from the sport, Michael’s biggest chunk of income is derived from the Jordan brand. Globally, Jordan generates  an annual 1.75 billion in revenue while still holding a 58% share of the entire US basketball shoe market. This percentage is significantly more than the company that actually launched the Jordan brand. NIke holds 34% of this share, while Adidas only holds 5.5%. http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Search/Site.aspx?q=Nike

Judging by its worldwide fame and recognition, the Air Jordan brand is a testament to how powerful a logo can truly be.

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State of the Union 2013: Raising Interest & Turning Heads

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Now, I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest political enthusiast, but seeing as how this past week our nation’s Commander-in-chief delivered his most significant public address thus far in his second term (much of which focused on our current economic state) I figured it was post worthy. 

In March of 2006, well before Barack Obama began his term in the White House, the Illinois State Senator spoke of our nation’s unfavorable economic standing, consequently acting as the platform towards his presidential campaign. In this speech, the President addressed America’s debt crisis as a sign of leadership failure that was rapidly gaining speed.http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/256288/senator-barack-obama-explaining-his-2006-vote-against-raising-debt-limit-andrew-c-mcca. Going on to criticize the country’s reckless fiscal policies, claiming that our nation deserved better guidance to resolve such an issue, the democratic candidate restored all faith lost during this somber time. 

Nearly seven years removed from this original claim, President Barack Obama addressed the State of the Union in a position somewhat different from what he had originally predicted. Through his opening discourse, he informed the public that his economic policies created six million new jobs since the time he took office, however official records show that in the process of doing so, five million jobs were also lost since then. And just to clarify, I am completely indifferent concerning the topic at hand, but the fact remains that this heroic efforts came at the cost of five million other lost jobs. Regardless, it’s comforting to know that one man was capable of helping so many others in need.

That being said, the only topic of the address that truly concerned me was the president’s proposed path to citizenship. Stating that, “Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship… meaning required background checks, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty,” I cannot help but assume that this is just wishful thinking. http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci_22581201/state-union-2013-president-obamas-proposals-face-quick. I am completely in favor of welcoming immigrants who seek new and exciting opportunities (pending the legality), but not at the cost of impacting our economic deficit more so than it already is. In no way is it fair for those immigrants following the legal application process to be forced to live outside of our borders as those “cutting corners” inhabit the country illegally.

In short, I very much enjoyed hearing our nation’s leaders discuss the plans for our future and felt much more knowledgeable on many topics in doing so.

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How To Conduct An Ideal Sales Pitch/Meeting

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This week’s post is intended for any of those readers who are possibly looking to pursue a career in the world of sales. And as funny as it is for me to say, up until a month I, myself wouldn’t have been considered a part of this group. My plans for the future were completely altered when a potential employer I had spoken with over the phone offered an invitation for me to accompany him and his partner to the National Surf Expo in Orlando, Florida for an overnight sales trip. Uncertain at first as to why he was extending this invitation to someone not even considering a life of sales at the time, he described it as an opportunity to gain exposure towards a specific career path he saw me excelling most at. Regardless of how genuine of a complement it was, my ignorance simply saw this as an opportunity to escape from a dreary January day in Pittsburgh to a tropical paradise in Florida, even if it was just for a day. Little did I know that this trip would completely open my eyes towards a route I had honestly never even considered.

As we arrived at the Orlando Convention Center, I entered one of the most overwhelming environments I had even been in in my life. With loud reggae music blaring, surfing models strutting, and different merchants bargaining, I quickly presumed that the life of sales was simply fun and games. However, the potential employer I was with quickly adjusted that perspective. It was here that I witnessed a series of very serious sales meetings between those I was with and companies offering products they wanted to represent. At this point in the day, I felt as if I obtained so much knowledge on how a someone in this profession conducts a sales pitch as effectively as possible. Whether obtained through direct word of mouth from the representative or just from my own observation, these were the lessons that appeared to be most valuable:

1) How you present yourself determines how your desired buyers/clients perceive you. This is why both men were completely clean-cut, well-groomed, and dressed in very respectable suits. This leaves no room for anyone involved in the pitch to judge your professionalism based on your appearance.

2) Confidence in yourself and your ability to generate revenue off of the product of discussion.

3) It is in your best interest to be as knowledgeable about the product being discussed and/or your ability to get it infront of large scale retailers. Meaning, flaws in your pitch can be interpreted as inefficiency in your company.

4) Avoid making promising to manufacturers about projected figures, numbers, or sales. This creates a sense of expectations which ultimately creates more stress for you.

5) Emphasize your ability to get products infront of large scale retailers. In doing so, assuring your clients that their product is in the hands of someone who has many strong relationships with large retailers who are likely to expanding it exponentially.