The Short And Long Of It

by RebShang

This is an open letter to my college professor to whom I humbly credit my foundational understanding and practices of marketing, an art of which I hope to join in the ranks with those who quietly rally to redeem it from the Smarms who choose to debase it.

Hi Dr. Powell,

It’s been almost two years since graduation, since my last of those infamous Powell finals for which I bemoaned to study those many, many terms. But it was worth it. Who knew I would now be using bleed and copy on a regular basis? Well, I suppose you did.

You see, in short, I get to do marketing for a school that is excellent and enjoyable to work at.

I could just say that I’m one lucky kid. But that would be terribly ungrateful of me. So, I am thankful – thankful to be even slightly attentive enough to the grand orchestration of seemingly disconnected circumstances that have brought me to this point.

Allow me to begin on September 2012. I had moved half-way across the world and been working as the Academic Administrative Assistant at International Community School for a month. I was enjoying myself, but my daily vocabulary included transcripts and Sycamore and detentions and sub teachers. I was confused (and, I’ll admit, a bit frustrated) as to exactly the “why” God had brought me into a non-teaching role in Singapore, when just the summer before I was nearly convinced I was meant to teach ESL in China.

I would soon find out.

“Reb, my freshmen have just read Romeo & Juliet. I’m having them develop ad campaigns to promote tourism in Verona, and I’d like for you to judge as a ruling member of the city,” decided one of the high school English teachers.

A chance to wield fake Shakespearean power for fifty minutes? “Count me in,” I replied. The Veronian Council also included the high school principal and school director. Our only instructions were “make ’em sweat”. So I did.

Two hours later, the director stopped by my desk to set up a meeting for the next week. With me. “Let’s talk,” he said, “bring ideas you have for a school marketing plan.” So I did.

Following that meeting was a series of discussions where the director and business manager shared with me their vision for the school and the necessary role that marketing would play, and of which I was to fill that role should I desire so. You bet I did.

The rest of the school year finished out with me remaining in my position. I know, anti-climatic. And, again I’ll admit, it was frustrating at times. Yet, looking back, I am grateful I completed the year in the Academic Office. You see, I was perfectly situated to see and experience the heart of the school. I interacted daily with a multitude of students and teachers and parents and admin. I witnessed the intricate teamwork involved in running a school. I listened to stories of the Classroom – frustrations, successes, hardships, joys. I also got to partner with an outside consultant to conduct an extensive research project (constituting many aspects of the Powell Group Projects), resulting in a plan and presentation to the school board.

It was during those critical months that I discovered who we are and what we do.

Fast-forward to now.

Today, ICS has a refined mission and core values, a consistent brand, a new logo, a style guide, a print ad campaign in two highly-circulated targeted publications, a professional promo video, and a newly launched website. And the pipeline is full of things to come.

I get to wear many hats from content manager to media buyer to SEO analyst. Some I wear better than others. I fail. I succeed. I learn. I am thriving. I am humbled by the vitalness and vitality of teamwork. Without my graphics designer, I’d be toast. Without my manager, I’d be not quite nowhere, but most certainly somewhere far from here. (Plus, who else would sign off on my 2014-2015 spending plan? ;-))

There’s more to it, I’m sure, but let’s stop here and say that’s the long of it.

Dr. Powell, I tell you all this to say, thank you for kicking that dead horse. Again and again. I forge every new initiative asking who is my target audience? Each project begins with market research, finding out what people want and giving it to them. I knew those agonizing months of refining our mission and core values were fundamental to the future of the school because if we lose our focus, we’d lose our shirt. We have a new brand that accurately represents us because marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products. And as the Singapore education landscape changes toward specialization, I plan to adjust ICS from being a third player to its own niche mountain.

Well, I’m done now. I’m honored that this can be added to the substantial pile of letters and emails you’ve received throughout the years from old students whom you have impacted. Please keep doing what you do. Yes, even those many, many terms.

My most sincerest thanks,

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