Tools of the trade – this will be on the test.

Happy New Year from the MIM Ambassadors!  We hope that you’ve enjoyed some time with family and friends and rested up, ‘case we’re ready to jump back into the swing of things!  Today, I’d like to share some of the basic tools and ways of thinking about things that I’ve picked up in the program that I feel have helped me succeed so far.

Coming into the MIM program, I felt a little anxious about what would be expected of me as far as business related coursework was concerned, as I had taken absolutely no business courses in undergrad.  It was so bad, that I actually brought it up when meeting with some MIM students in my cohort on our first meeting before classes started (Austin can attest to this).  What should I be worried about?  Wait, they have ‘financial calculators?’  So, I did a little research online and scoped out some resources to at least get a little better picture of what I didn’t know, and should probably read up on.  After a couple hours of perusing, it was things like case studies and marketing plans that had me a little worried.  How should these be analyzed?  For me, two tools came in handy: perceptual maps and a SWOT analysis.

Perceptual Maps:

We picked up this handy little tool in Global Marketing – it’s a visual way to show how similar products compare to each other based on two measurable dimensions.  For example, I wrote my marketing plan with the aim of marketing Oregon wine in Japan.  So, I put the competitors (European wine and domestically made wine) on the same chart, that was separated into four quadrants.  Each of those quadrants were different based on the two variables measured – Exclusive and Expensive, Exclusive and Affordable, Common and Expensive and Common and Affordable.  Essentially, this is a very simple way of conveying the positioning of your product in a visually digestible way.  Also, Brian McCarthy, the marketing professor for the MIM program is a huge fan of these – for all you incoming or prospective MIMers, if you whip out one of these maps on day one before he introduces them, I guarantee you’ll impress him!

SWOT Analyses:

These are a little more common, and not confined to one particular class or school of business thought.  A SWOT Analysis stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  Essentially, it’s a tool used to analyze a case study and determine how a firm or company should proceed with a given course of action.  Without getting into too much detail, you can think of it as a way of separating the information given to you in a case study into simple categories.  The first two (Strengths and Weaknesses) are internal to the firm or company – these are things that they can control, or are attributes regardless of the environment.  For example, a strength of a company might be their loyal customer base that they have earned over years of exceptional service, and a weakness might be their narrow scope of services or goods provided.  The other two (Opportunities and Threats) are external to the firm, and are things that should be taken into consideration as they are determined by the greater environment.  An emerging interest in and consumption of a firms product would be an opportunity, while a global recession is a threat – these are things that a company should plan for, even though they really can’t do too much to change those things.

The nice thing about a SWOT, is that once you get a handle on how to write one, you can use them in just about any business course!  I used one in marketing and for just about every case study that we looked at in Global Business Strategy.

I hope that these helped any of you out there that may have a little anxiety about what will be expected of you in the MIM program.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email us at  Oh, and if there are any other things you’d like to hear about, as always, let us know!

Happy New Year!



1 Comment

Filed under Common Questions, Coursework, Patrick's Entries

One response to “Tools of the trade – this will be on the test.

  1. Joel Peterson’s Mini Site Review in Detail

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