The top 5 things I learned in business school this week

Note before reading: I have withdrawn from the program that offered the examples I provide below. Time is the most important asset and I couldn't waste any more of it in a program that provided more "WTF" content for my blog than it did my education. After a great deal of consideration I elected to enroll in a highly ranked Executive MBA program at a different school.  

Don’t judge me, but I’m working on getting my MBA. I have some reservations about the effort, some of which Gary Vaynerchuk bluntly expresses here:

Solid points. I'd add that nearly every business skillI I have, I've learned from experience, not a professor. 

Nevertheless, I’m enrolled and making progress on getting a piece of paper that qualifies me as a "master" of business. Why? Well, for starters, it's an employment benefit and I’m not paying for it. Plus, I’m a nerd and find learning pretty fun, so why the hell not?  

As someone enrolled in MBA classes thinking I can actually apply what I am learning to my businesses, these past couple weeks have been a massive fucking disappointment.

To enlighten you as to just what I mean, I’ve taken the liberty to list the top 5 things I’ve learned in the past week from my MBA classes. Before you read, please, I beg you, check the date of this post. It’s not a typo. And this is legitimately what my required reading is at the moment.  

Without further ado, here’s what I’m “learning” about consumer behavior in my MBA program:

5. Google is rapidly taking over as the internet’s top search engine, recently overtaking Yahoo as the leader. 

From the textbook:

"Yahoo lost the top spot by 2003, with the gap between Google and Yahoo becoming even greater with the following year."

Thanks for the breaking news, business school. Looks like I better stop sending MSN my search advertising budget. 

4. Longaberger is a great example of how to successfully execute direct selling.

From the textbook:

“Longaberger is the premier maker of American-made handcrafted baskets and other quality home and lifestyle products. Annual sales of 8 million baskets and a total of 30 million pottery, dinnerware, wrought-iron, and other home products are accomplished by nearly 70,000 independent home consultants nationwide who sell Longaberger products directly to customers. Led by CEO Tami Longaberger, the company was ranked the eighteenth largest woman-owned U.S. company by Working Woman in 2001.”

Who the hell is Longaberger? Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. As it turns out, so was their most recent President, Michael Somoroff when he was offered the job, which he took for 6 months before departing. Somoroff is just one of 7 presidents Longaberger has had in the past 10 years and since 2000, the company has seen revenues fall from $1 billion to about $100 million. If I’m going to learn anything from this company, it might be what not to do.

3. Catalog sales are growing dramatically. 

From the textbook:

“Catalog buying has experienced dramatic growth in recent years, averaging about 7 percent per year growth in sales (at least twice as high as location-based retailers).”

Well shit, here I’ve been working to integrate an effective inbound marketing strategy using valuable and relevant content for one of my businesses and I didn’t even stop to consider printing out expensive magazines and mass mailing them across the planet. I have to alert my sales team of this innovative approach. 

2. Newspaper and yellow page ads are really important. But the real growth opportunity is in television home shopping. A great example of this is when Kodak used QVC to introduce its new Cameo zoom lens.

From the textbook:

“About 20 percent of in-home purchases are stimulated each year by newspaper magazine, and yellow pages ads that call for a direct response such as the return of an order form. But big growth in this category is occurring in television home shopping both in the United States and abroad. The on-screen sell seems to work well with a variety of products, especially when there is a need for demonstration. When Kodak introduced its new Cameo zoom lens camera on the QVC shopping network, 9,700 were sold in just seventy minutes. Kodak also benefited from pitching its related products at the same time.”

Want a surefire way to train our future business leaders for success? Teach business students about newspaper ads, yellow page ads, selling shit on QVC, and Kodak’s cutting edge ways of doing business. Seriously, fucking Kodak?    

But I have saved the best, most informative, most important thing I’ve learned for last…

1. The internet is really best for sharing information, not for selling things.

From the textbook: 

"It's probably correct to conclude that the Internet is still best for providing information rather than selling."

You read that correctly. 

What I'm wondering here is, if I'm asked on a test whether the internet is a great tool to sell products, do I answer correctly, or do I answer with what is in the book? 

This must be a business history class, right? Sadly, no. This is what they are teaching about consumer behavior at one of the top 50 business schools in the country.

I’m not even paying for my MBA and it’s enough to make me reconsider whether it's worth the investment I'm making, which is largely in time.