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Sales and Marketing Assistant Internship Report

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Executive Summary

Skills

Internship at AVVA, Inc. has taught several important lessons about the need to deploy the latest technology tools as the means of attaining corporate goals.

Summary of the Internship

The internship started with the identification of the company’s structure, its corporate values, ethics, main objectives and principles of organisational behaviour. In the course of the internship an extensive amount of information concerning the tools for marketing the target product to the key customers has been provided. Specifically, the methods of incorporating the tools related to modern media into the marketing strategy and expand into the global market. Moreover, the experience acquired in the course of the internship has created the basis for developing strategies for successful cooperation with international organisations and companies with high diversity rates. The experience in question can be used in preventing cultural conflicts and establishing strong and trustworthy relations with the organisations represented by other cultures.

Introduction: Company Background. Standing at the Beginning

Located at 715, 18 Wandsworth Road, London (About us 2015, par. 9), AVVA, Ltd. has become quite well known as a commercial agency over the past few years. The organisation defines itself as a commercial agency and works with other companies to promote well recognisable brands in foreign markets, particularly, in UK and East Europe (About us 2015, par. 1). The company is currently run by Anastasia Kuznetsova and has been experiencing a significant increase in its net profit due to expansion into the new market over the past few years.

The company has been doing quite well over the past few years, seeing that it has reached a new stage of development. By aiming at the international level of operations and creating strong economic and cultural ties between east Europe and the United Kingdom, the organisation has advanced considerably, altering its mission and vision significantly (‘About us’ 2015, par. 1). According to the current statement, the company’s mission concerns providing “an excellent service and lasting impact to our partners and their clients” (‘About us’ 2015, par. 4), whereas the vision of the organisation is related to expanding to “to UK and Eastern European markets” (‘About us’ 2015, par. 3). The specified concepts align well with the contemporary concept of diversity in commercial industry (‘About us’ 2015, par. 3); moreover, it opens a pool of new opportunities for the organisation in terms of international partnerships and further expansion into the global market.

The main mission of the report, therefore, concerns identifying the lessons learned during the internship. Additionally, the course for the further professional development will be identified. The analysis of the effects of cultural issues on the marketing strategy also deserves to be listed among the key objectives. Finally, the choice of marketing tools based on the cultural specifics of the target customers can be viewed as the topic of the report.

Commercial Industry Sector: Description

Traditionally defined as an active economic sector that presupposes dealing with any kind of promotion related processes and services (Huy 2014), commercial industry is a comparatively old concept the commercial industry sector has truly bloomed over the past decade. Though there have never been actual boundaries to the commercial industry in general, it is the 21st century when the very concept of advertisement and commercial activities has been altered drastically. With the introduction of information technology tools and the availability of new and improved means of information transfer, new options for commercial industry members were opened. Consequently, the 21st century can be viewed as the rise of the commercial industry sector (Tseng & Lin 2012).

A closer look at the subject matter will show that the creation of the global market and global economy has spurred the development of the commercial industry. The introduction of new information technology tools, such as e-mail, social networks and search engines, has spurred the process of advertisement to the nth degree, allowing data of immense proportions to be transferred to the end users within an unbelievably small amount of time. As a result, the commercial industry is experiencing a huge revival nowadays.

Indeed, the global statistics shows that the commercial industry sector is experiencing a major resurgence. As Figure 1 below shows, the rates of employment in the aforementioned sector are getting increasingly big. Despite the fact that there have been several minor hiccups in the field under analysis, as the table below displays (the annual grow amounting to -0.1 currently), the overall tendency for the commercial industry sector seems to be rather positive.

Commercial Industry Sector: Statistics
Figure 1. Commercial Industry Sector: Statistics (Global commercial printing: market research report, 2015).

Moreover, the recent technological breakthrough opened a pool of opportunities for sales and marketing experts in terms of promoting goods and services online. Seeing that mobile applications allow for a constant access to the Internet, the current marketing industry has been geared towards the design and development of applications allowing for a regular access to the services of a particular company.

AVVA Trends: Going Global. A Journey to the West

Creating the environment, in which people belonging to different cultures can communicate successfully, can be viewed as the primary objective that AVVA, Ltd. is engaged in at present. In other words, translating commercial ideas from one culture to another and selling the product created by British companies to the representatives of East European countries, the organisation literally breaks the cultural barrier that has been in existence between East and West Europe for years. As a result, the communication process, which AVVA, ltd. engages in when carrying out its routine activities, can be interpreted as an attempt to bridge two or more different cultures on the basis of compromises and negotiation.

SWOT Analysis of AVVA
Graph 1. SWOT Analysis of AVVA, Ltd.

As the graph above shows, the organisation is most likely to face certain friction in establishing relations between the representatives of the corresponding cultures; however, as working for AVVA shows, the principles lying at the basis of the company’s ethical code and organisational behaviour encourage diversity and, therefore, are most likely to reduce the amount of possible conflicts to the minimum. Most importantly, the principles that the organisation is guided by clearly show that conflicts are not only unavoidable, but also inevitable; thus, it is reasonable to use negative experiences as the source of essential lessons to be learned.

AVVA Activities: Lingua Franca for Business People

One must admit that the current strengths of the company can be viewed as significant assets that can be used for advancing in the target market. However, the lack of motivation among the staff, as well as the act that the company has only recently started integrating into the global market, needs to be born in mind when engaging in the process of decision-making. Still, an efficient strategy for conflict management and negotiation processes, which AVVA, Ltd. has developed for addressing possible intercultural issues, should be viewed as an obvious benefit and used to advance in the target market and attract more partners and customers.

AVVA Analysis: Style and Substance

Methodology: Where the Qualitative and the Quantitative Approaches Meet

Addressing the issue in question presupposes a detailed analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data. More importantly, the relations between the key variables to be considered in the study will have to be quantified at some point in order to understand the links between them better. Consequently, it is recommended that a mixed research (i.e., a qualitative research with the elements of a quantitative study) should be conducted.

Particularly, a general research will be carried out, with a detailed overview of the relevant sources regarding the issue of the commercial industry in general and the issues that modern companies face when dealing with the factors of global economy in particular. In order to identify the current trends in the specified domain and access AVVA’s chances for success in the area under analysis, one will have to consider browsing through peer reviewed journals that are related to marketing and were published no earlier than five years ago (i.e., the affordable sources will range from 2010 to 2015).

Additionally, the official site of the company, as well as any other trustworthy site that contains information on AVVA, Ltd., will be included into the list of sources to be reviewed in the process. The choice of the above-mentioned resources is justified by the fact that AVVA, Ltd. is a comparatively young company, which has not been included into vast analyses of global enterprises so far; therefore, to locate the data related to the company, certain non peer reviewed online resources will have to be viewed as an option. Finally, the sources such as books, which contain general data on the theory of commerce and the concept of marketing, as well as on communication in global setting, will have to be incorporated into the study. Although some of the books in question may date back to the previous century, they will still make an essential addition to the review of literature, as they make the basis for the theoretical framework of the study.

As far as the quantitative aspect of the research is concerned, conducting a case study based on the results of surveys carried out among the staff will help locate specific tendencies in the organisation. The surveys will include ten questions, three of them being general, three presupposing multiple choices, and four offering the respondents to evaluate specific factors on the scale of one to seven. The latter portion of the test will be constructed base on Likert-type surveys. The specified type of questions will allow for evaluating the efficacy of the marketing approach adopted by the organisation and at the same time help carry out a quantitative assessment of the opportunities for the company to become a part of the global economy (Brown 2011, p. 12). In the course of the answers analysis, standard deviations of the Likert survey results will be identified; additionally, the answers to the multiple choice questions will be quantified. As far as the first three questions, which will be general, are concerned, they will be analyzed with the help of the coding approach. To be more exact, certain elements of the answers will be coded according to the taxonomy based on the characteristics, which the respondents will assign to the organisation in relation to its corporate ethics, customer relations, organisational behaviour principles, etc. The outcomes of the study will be reflected upon with the information retrieved from the literature review in mind.

When it comes to defining the theoretical framework, which the study is going to be based on, one should consider the value chain governance theory. According to the existing definition, the specified theory bridges the concepts of technological development and international business interactions (Costinot, Vogel & Wang 2011, p. 2). Therefore, it allows for viewing a company in the context of the contemporary global economy and evaluating the effects, which external factors have on the quality of the final product and the relations between the company and its key stakeholders, including customers, partners, investors, suppliers and retailers. On the whole, the AVVA Company will be evaluated from the perspective of the theory of change, which is defined as the “theory of how and why an initiative is supposed to work” (Wijk & Vellema 2015, p. 15).

Additionally, the processes, which are incorporated into the overall framework of AVVA, Ltd.’s operations, will be viewed with the help of the tool known as the Marketing Mix, which is a range of “promotional tactics used for marketing and selling of product” (Ahmed et al. 2014, p. 910). There is no need to stress that operating in the environment of global economy requires flexibility and readiness to adapt to new cultural realities. Therefore, the need to assess the organisation’s capacity to adapt towards the new cultural realities and respond adequately to the needs of the new target market emerges. Traditionally, the Marketing Mix tool is viewed as a means for considering the cultural characteristics of the target population:

The marketing mix is not a marketing method; instead, it is a set of elements with which managers can achieve their marketing goals. In other words, the classification of the marketing mix varies according to the researcher, but it is the same from the perspective of achieving marketing goals. (Yang et al. 2014, p. 64)

Therefore, it can be viewed as a perfect device for evaluating whether AVVA, Ltd. has a chance at promoting its product to the target denizens, i.e., East Europe, including Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia (Our brands 2015, par. 1).

Results Analysis: Interpreting Mixed Data

A study of the recent literature has shown that the commercial industry has advanced significantly over the past few decades, mostly due to the adoption of the corresponding digital tools as the means of getting the message across. One must admit that the specified tools used to be viewed as supplementary at first, yet, as the development of the marketing industry progressed, the power of modern media in general and the electronic tools such as social networks, online forums, etc., was finally recognised. According to the latest studies, modern media in general and social networks in particular define the course of the commercial industry development at present:

In both commercial industry and academia, significant progress has been made on problems related to the analysis of community structure; however, traditional work in social networks has focused on static situations (i.e., classical social network analysis) or dynamics in a large-scale sense (e.g., disease propagation). (Campbell, Dagil & Weinstein 2013, p. 68)

Additionally, the review of the recent sources has shown that the significance of diversity has grown greatly with the advance of information technology and the related tools. Particularly, the need to address the possible frictions in the course of intercultural communication occurring between the members of different organisations needs to be addressed. Social media, therefore, has allowed for expanding the concept of a commercial industry into something greater than merely the phenomenon of advertisement and, as a result, planted it into the grand scheme of the global economy. The opportunity to reach out for the most deserted and detached corners of the Earth within a couple of minutes has predetermined the immense scale and an even greater scope of the modern commercial industry. According to the recent studies on the subject matter, entire observatories are created to monitor the process of product promotion and its effects on the target denizens of the population: “Agency have developed information observatories that are designed to answer the needs of commercial industry and the intelligence community” (Adams et al. 2014, p. 37).The incorporation of the latest technology, therefore, helps improve customer relations significantly, which is essential from the companies such as AVVA, Ltd., i.e., the organisations, which are only starting to expand into the global market.

From the perspective of the value chain governance theory, the leader of AVVA seems to have a very good understanding of how intercultural relations in the contemporary environment of global economy work. Particularly, the emphasis on the intercultural issues and the possible conflicts that may emerge in the process deserve to be mentioned. Additionally, a closer look at the marketing strategy that the organisation adopts shows clearly that the company is determined to cater to the needs of a very specific target audience. Particularly, the incorporation of the concepts such as devotion to traditions and the adoption of innovative approaches seem quite legitimate in the specified environment. According to the organisation’s official statement, AVVA, Ltd. aims at stressing the power of traditions and, therefore, incorporating the concept of comfort, cosiness and homeliness into its marketing campaign: “Based in the heart of the English Fens, Curzon & Co makes furniture the old fashioned way – by hand. Stunning chairs and sofas that will last 25 years and that will mature beautifully with each passing generation. Every piece in the Curzon & Co Collection is individual” (Our brands 2015, par. 5).

The specifics of the East European cultures, in their turn, are also linked tightly to the idea of sustaining traditions and appreciating the past: “A similar dynamics might be found in other countries which have gone or are still going through similar economic transformations, particularly the ones with strong patriarchal traditions” (Tsetsura 2012, p. 15). the air of nostalgia, which the entire promotion campaign carried out by the organisation is shot through with, is more than adequate when adopted in the target market, especially in the light of the fact that the products in question are introduced by a foreign company: “nostalgia and nostalgic-related consumptions play a major role in acculturation” (Brunk, Visconti & Witten 2013, p. 96). By showing the target customers in a very graphic manner that AVVA, Ltd. appreciates traditions and is ready to create the environment, in which the clients are likely to feel happy and satisfied, the organisation develops a very strong basis for customer relations. Therefore, the company’s approach works impeccably as far as targeting the nostalgia driven denizens of the local population is concerned:

Moreover, the study has shown that most customers tend to agree on the quality of the products provided compared to what they were promised in the corresponding commercials: according to the outcomes of the research, the population standard deviation makes approximately 5.5 as far as the specified issue is concerned, which is comparatively low given the fact that 20 responses have been gathered. Likewise, most of the survey participants claim that they were attracted to the product chosen by them when communicating with the company representatives based on the environment created in the commercial. Particularly, adult respondents pointed out the business oriented style of the furniture together with the luxury of the furniture as the key characteristics that made them choose the products promoted by AVVA, Inc. Middle-aged clients, in their turn, mentioned the concept of comfort and reliability as the main reason for them to choose the furniture in question. AVVA’s partners, in their turn, also seem to have chosen the specified organisation due to the trustworthiness thereof and the unique opportunity to enter new markets and become leaders there.

Marketing Mix

Price

The pricing strategy supported by the company and its partners is, perhaps, one of the most dubious aspects of the company’s operations, which may hinder the process of establishing the organisation in the target market and promoting trustworthy relations between the company’s staff and the customers. There is no need to stress that the recent economic and political events in Russia and Ukraine as well as the lack of economic stability in Kazakhstan have reduced buyers’ capacity in the specified countries:

Trade oriented policy measures were the most widely spread policy response to high world market prices, and aimed to curb domestic food price inflation. For example, during the 2007-2008 food crisis, roughly 37 countries implemented export barriers and 59 countries removed import restrictions. (Götz, Djuric & Glauben 2014, p. 2)

The above-mentioned effects of the issues in the states’ current policies can also be attributed to the marketing industry. As a result, the prices suggested by AVVA, Ltd. as a UK-based company may seem unreasonably high to its possible East European customers. Though the current pricing policy of the organisation can be viewed as moderate from the perspective of the global economy and the global market pricing standards, of the target markets, the expenses taken in the process of business transactions with AVVA are unreasonably high; according to the official pricing policy of the organisation, AVVA, Ltd. takes a commission of approximately 20% of the overall sales, as one of the company representatives mentioned in an interview.

Moreover, additional fees are traditionally implied along with the aforementioned 20% in case of successful sales. Therefore, for most entrepreneurs, the prices charged by the organisation may seem unreasonably high. The same concerns the people, who will supposedly buy the products promoted by the organisation; because of high prices stated by the companies partnering with AVVA, Ltd., the residents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are most likely to search for cheaper options. Therefore, the pricing approach needs to be redesigned with more options for saving money for customers. On the one hand, the company’s willingness to increase its net worth and expand into the global market is quite understandable; on the other hand, the approaches that the organisation uses for attaining the aforementioned objective can hardly be viewed as reasonable at present, given the financial opportunities that the local partner companies may provide.

Product

As it has been stressed above, AVVA, Ltd. puts a very strong emphasis on quality management and, therefore, delivers the finest products and services. Not only does the organisation provide its customers with an opportunity to become partners with the company in question and sell furniture and other products in new markets, but also buy state-of-the-art furniture from innovative companies across the world.

Promotion

A study of the recently published information on the overall progress of AVVA, Ltd. display clearly that the organisation seems to be very efficient in terms of addressing the needs of the local customers and adjusting its marketing approach towards the requirements set by the Kazakhstani, the Ukrainian and the Russian population. Indeed, the Marketing Mix, which AVVA, Ltd. has designed for promoting its services to the target customers, is practically flawless, as it puts a very strong emphasis on the concept of multiculturalism and cultural acceptance. The specified issue is especially topical in the contemporary political and economic environment of the above-mentioned countries; therefore, the strategy adopted by AVVA, Ltd. can be considered a viable and economically reasonable approach to undertake

Place

While the idea of creating an economic link between East and West Europe may seem quite innocent at first, a closer look at the venue will most likely show that the actual choice of location could become a reason for a major concern. There is no secret that the recent political events occurring in Ukraine have led to some major problems in its economy. For instance, the GDP rates plummeted to $131,810,000 in 2014, which is 2.5% lower than it was the previous year.

Ukraine: GDP (2012–2015)
Figure 2. Ukraine: GDP (2012–2015) (Ukraine GDP growth rate 2010-2015 2015, par. 2).

As Figure 2 provided above shows, the Ukrainian economic strategy does not hold up, making the state practically incapable of competing in the global market. The same can be said about Russia at present,; as the state is caught in the midst of an economic crisis caused by numerous sanctions imposed on the country because of the above-mentioned conflict in Ukraine, Russia can hardly be viewed as a proper place for establishing an international organisation in. Kazakhstan, in its turn, can be viewed as a relatively peaceful and economically stable state. Therefore, AVVA, Ltd. should put an emphasis on creating stronger ties between Europe and Kazakhstan at present.

Analysis

Based on the specifics of the Marketing Mix created by AVVA, Ltd. one may assume that the firm has rather good opportunities in the specified region. Nevertheless, the current political events, which shape the economy of Russia and Ukraine to a considerable extent, may hinder the process of creating partners in the target areas, not to mention attracting new customers and promoting the products provided by the partner companies to the target denizens of the local population. In other words, AVVA, Ltd. will have to reconsider its priorities in terms of choosing the key venue for its activities. Additionally, the aforementioned conflict seems to have affected the sense of local people’s identity (Herrera & Kydd 2014). Therefore, when creating a promotion campaign for the products supplied by the partners in the target countries (particularly, Ukraine and Russia), the organisation must reduce any possibility of controversy regarding the current political and cultural issues to the minimum. Finally, as far as the pricing issue is concerned, in order to succeed in east Europe, AVVA will have to consider a more flexible pricing policy. At present, the prices for the furniture are bound to be very stiff, as the company charges its partners 20% for the promotion procedure. Therefore, the pricing issue clearly is the greatest dent in the overall reasonable strategy adopted by the organisation.

The surveys, in their turn, have delivered rather mixed results. Despite the fact that the company seems to uphold to the present-day standards of an international organisation, AVVA, Ltd. seems to be in need of a more rigid set of rules for its corporate ethics and communication policy. Although the current rules cannot be viewed as faulty, they are far too vague for the company to deploy these standards as the basis for possible intercultural and business related conflicts. Seeing that conflicts are an integral part of evolution, AVVA, Ltd. will have to set the stage for addressing further communication issues, which are very likely to appear given the recent political controversy surrounding the current Ukrainian conflict.

Recommendations: Corporate Social Responsibility

When it comes to determining the tools that will allow AVVA, Ltd. to prosper in the above-mentioned controversial environment, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to be the most obvious and reasonable choice to make. Seeing that the organisation lacks rigid communication strategies and conflict-solving techniques, as well as certain motivation among the staff, the introduction of the CSR principles into the company’s framework will have a very powerful effect on the quality of the services provided by the company, as well as the relations between the company’s staff and the target customers. More importantly, the principles of CSR will help address the above-mentioned political issue in a manner as tactful and delicate as possible, therefore, allowing the organisation to operate in both the Ukrainian and the Russian markets without causing either of the partners to feel insulted.

Moreover, seeing that the survey returned rather low rates regarding the enthusiasm of the staff, the incorporation of the principles of CSR into the organisation’s framework could encourage the staff members to be more passionate about their job. Herein the need to consider a change in the leadership approach as the tool for improving the marketing related issues lies. Indeed, once the staff’s motivation rates are increased, the production process is enhanced; as a result, the marketing related processes will be boosted as well, therefore, leading to a rapid increase in the company’s revenues. It is strongly recommended that the model for managing the staff should be switched from the current one to the model of transformative leadership. According to recent studies, the specified approach helps both motivate employees and create specific behavioural patterns, which the company’s members will be able to comply with. As a result, the possibilities for the staff members breaking the company’s rules and, thus, leading to a major issue, are bound to drop to zero.

Learner’s Experience: Selling Ideas

Significance of Cultural Interactions

Despite minor discrepancies in the course of AVVA, Ltd.’s daily routine, the overall impression of working in the organisation was clearly positive. Working for AVVA, Ltd. meant acquiring immense experience regarding selling not only actual products, but also ideas. While sounding very inspiring, the concept in question turned out to be rather tedious and complicated, as it required defining a compromise between the conflicting notions in two or more cultures, e.g., the British and the Kazakhstani ones. In fact, the problem of a culture clash can be defined as the recurring one in the process of designing a marketing campaign for AVVA, Ltd. the above-mentioned dilemmas were mostly predetermined by the differences in the visions of the cultures mentioned above; as a result, what seemed as a passable idea in the target cultures did not translate well into the English one, and vice versa. More to the point, certain misconceptions emerged even when translating a certain message into the three languages mentioned above (i.e., Kazakhstani, Ukrainian and Russian ones).

Additionally, the cooperation between the company members and the members of the partner organisations, which also belonged to the three target cultures mentioned above for the most part, presupposed dealing with the possibility for a misunderstanding. Indeed, some partner companies belonging the cultures other than the British one, the threat of a misunderstanding emerged quite often. Moreover, even certain conflicts sparked after unsuccessful discussions of the promotion related issues with AVVA’s partners. However, with the help of the negotiation strategies chosen by AVVA, Ltd. and based on the concept of a mutual compromise, these negotiations returned mostly positive results.

Additionally, working at AVVA has shown that the choice of the approach to be adopted to work with a particular customer depends heavily on the cultural specifics of the country, as well as the current political and economic state thereof. Apart from the complexities related to the bellicose attitudes in Russia and Ukraine, the issues regarding the exploration of the Kazakhstani market deserves to be mentioned. Particularly, the fact that the middle class furniture market is underrepresented in Kazakhstan should be brought up. Despite the fact that AVVA, Ltd. offers only the products of the highest quality, the firm is ready to be flexible and adjust its services to the needs of the customers.

Consequently, because of relatively low income rates in Kazakhstan, the company was eager to consider the option of catering to the needs of the middle class representatives, learning in the process that the middle class targeted market was reduced to the size of a molecule in the state. As a result, “Both moderate and mid level furniture have equal demand level throughout all regions of Kazakhstan” (Furniture market in Kazakhstan 2014, p. 2), which presupposed that AVVA, Ltd. was going to have a tremendous success in the designated state. Moreover, when addressing the needs of the customers in the aforementioned area, the company had to consider the promotion of the furniture that aligned with people’s concept of comfort and cosiness. According to the culture and beliefs of the Kazakhstani people, the above-mentioned notions are associated with traditions; as a result, the promotion campaign was altered slightly so that the concept of homeliness could be introduced into the advertisements.

Likewise, the process of product promotion in Ukraine had to comply with the culture and traditions of the local residents. Particularly, the fact that the Ukrainian population could be split into two key categories, i.e., the eastern denizens, who relate to the Russian culture to a considerable extent, and the western population, who have a number of cultural and economic ties with the west, needs to be brought up. The duality of the cultural paradigm in the above-mentioned area was one of the trickiest issues to address in the course of the promotion campaign; as a result, AVA, Ltd, decided to use the symbols that both sides could relate to easily such as the air of cosiness and the warm colours that allowed the viewers to feel at home.

The experience of working at AVVA was truly refreshing in that it showed in a very graphic manner that any intercultural issues can be dealt with once a sound and creating marketing strategy was applied. It would be wrong and vain to claim that AVVA’s promotion campaign in the target markets helped remove cultural bias from the daily agenda; the significance of the commercials that aired in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan had little to no effect on the economic and political situation in these states whatsoever. However, the commercials and advertisements did affect the viewpoint of the target population on the concept of furniture as an integral part of daily life and the source of comfort. Particularly, the commercials in question attacked the idea that the concepts of comfortable and useful do not go hand in hand when it comes to furniture. The company has altered the point of view of the local residents slightly, making it quite clear that buying beautiful and cosy furniture had nothing to do with a status and, instead, had to be viewed as an essential part of an ordinary life, making it more pleasurable and fun.

Additionally, working in the three states in question and communicating with the local partners, including furniture producing companies has shown that negotiation is an essential element of business interactions. Because of differences in mentalities of the local organisations’ members and the ones of AVVA’s representatives, numerous conflicts sparked in the course of communication; however, in every case, the conflicts in question were addressed successfully after a thorough analysis of the cultural differences that stood in the way. As it has been explained above, AVVA members have never feared conflicts, viewing them as an opportunity for handling misunderstandings, approaching the issue in question objectively and locating the compromise that could satisfy all the stakeholders involved.

Apart from successful communication with the target partners and the development of the strategy that helped handle the conflicts between the company and its partners, working in AVVA, Ltd. has shown the ways, in which marketing strategies used by other companies could be adjusted to the mentality and the mind frame of the target customers. Particularly, the marketing tools used by the organisations, which promoted their products with the help of AVVA, Ltd. needed certain change so that Kazakhstani, Ukrainian and Russian customers could understand the message that the producer was trying to get across, deserve to be mentioned.

For instance, the tradition of following a comparatively reserved design that borders the concept of minimalism and active use of wooden elements, which has recently received a rather warm welcome in Ukraine, was not incorporated into the framework of the Belgesto initially. Instead, the company representing the Italian brands such as Serenissima emphasised the importance of cosiness and offered an opportunity to enjoy a more exotic colour palette, such as a combination of red and white colours. However, after AVVA shaped the marketing approach that the organisation used as the tool for attracting new customers and offered the furniture of the company in question as the luxurious products that offered an opportunity to experience extraordinary comfort and exquisiteness that goes beyond what the customers may have experienced. In other words, the marketing approach used by AVVA’s partner had to be tailored to the demands set by the target denizens of the population; as a result, the company’s turnover reached £6,500,000, or $10,080,000 (Company overview 2015, par. 2).

Apart from developing the above-mentioned marketing strategy, AVVA, Ltd. has also taught several important lessons concerning personal relationships. Particularly, the methods of addressing conflicts deserve to be listed at the top of the crucial outcomes of working for AVVA, Ltd. One must give the company credit for designing an elaborate approach towards managing misunderstandings within the firm. Particularly, the fact that the organisation views conflicts as the tools for learning essential lessons should be brought up. Although the above-mentioned idea is not new, seeing it implemented in the environment that presupposes intercultural communication and, therefore, provides a plethora of chances for misunderstanding is truly refreshing. For instance, the communication process in AVVA, Ltd., when aimed at resolving a particular conflict, never pursued the goal of laying the blame to somebody’s doors. It would be wrong to claim that the organisation’s managers avoided punishing the guilty; however, one must give the company leaders credit for focusing on the positive reinforcement, which allowed for a successful resolution of the conflict and the location of the strategy that would help address a similar issue in the future. Therefore, learning about the complexity of intercultural relations and the ways, in which intercultural communication can be facilitated, should be viewed as the essential outcome of the internship at AVVA, Ltd.

As a result the information regarding the approaches towards solving intercultural conflicts has shown that being personally involved and viewing the negative attitudes displayed by the opponent in the course of the conflict is clearly not the best way to address a complicated situation. Instead, a marketing agent must detach themselves personally from the issue considered in the course of a conflict and analyze the problem presented in a manner as objective as possible. Additionally, viewing the issue form an objective viewpoint is essential for the negotiation process, as the internship at the organisation has shown. Particularly, it is important to bear in mind that some realities of different cultures, such as the East European and the British ones, may have certain differences in their worldview, which may lead to misunderstandings and even conflicts.

Modern Media and Social Networking

Naturally, practice at AVVA, Ltd. was very different from what the theory of management had to offer. Particularly, a valuable lesson concerning the significance of using modern technology as a tool for expanding business and attracting new customers has been learned. Though the information concerning incorporating modern tools, such as social networks, into the marketing plan, does not offer anything out of the ordinary at present, watching the actual implementation of the above-mentioned principles of marketing had a truly immense effect on me as a learner. I am quite sure that I will never be able to see social networks as mere platforms for exchanging information; at present, they seem to be massive tools for a comparatively cheap and unbelievably efficient promotion.

Specifically, the creation of a Facebook page of the company and its consistent updating has played a significant role in the promotion of the product across the three states in question. The fact that a page on a social network site could increase revenues to the degree that it did to AVVA, Ltd. was a real eye-opener; it showed the importance of keeping in touch with the target customers and informing the latter on the changes that have occurred to the organisation since their last visit to the official site. It should be noted, though, that the actual results of AVVA, Ltd. being promoted via Facebook were quite humble to say the least. In fact, the organisation received drastically few hits on its main page, not to mention the fact that barely anyone wanted to hit the “like” button or to share the information posted by AVVA with their friends. Nevertheless, as I stressed above, working at AVVA showed me that even negative experiences can provide a range of peculiar ideas to learn about and ponder over; as far as the lack of success with the social networks has shown, e-marketing needs to be done in a more interactive manner, which invited the target audience to participate and discuss:

Marketing through social networking is a new way of reaching and connecting with consumers and marketers have been quick to respond to this shift in online activity. Facebook has rich biographical and locational data with which to target specific consumer groups. Firms can also create fan pages where brand-related content can be posted and consumer-to-consumer discussion encouraged. (Campbell, Ferrano & Sands 2014, p. 446)

Indeed, as it has been stressed above, avoiding any possible conflicts, controversies and even mild arguments has been the focus of AVVA, Ltd.’s policy; though working quite well for a face-to-face communication, the specified approach seems to have worked backwards in the realm of modern media. Social networks need to incorporate the material that can be viewed from different aspects; people need to have something that prompts discussions and invites them to share the information with their friends online. Well-polished and, therefore, rather bland, the posts that AVVA, Ltd. has been supplying to its Facebook followers do not seen to stir any discussions among the people that come across the articles. Therefore, working for AVVA has shown me that promoting an active discussion and, therefore, interaction among the community members, as well as communication between the latter and the members of the organisation, is a crucial step towards gaining customer loyalty and attracting new clients to the organisation.

The above-mentioned consideration, in fact, aligns with the key tenets of the theory of commerce in a rather logical and accurate manner. Indeed, a closer look at the basic postulates thereof will show that an efficient promotion campaign must be targeted at getting people involved; particularly, the target audience must relate to the products or services that an organisation offers. As it has been stressed above, the process of promoting the concept of expensive and luxurious life to the target denizens of the population has not been efficient up to a particular point in the company’s operations. The lack of success can be attributed to the complicated economic, financial and political situation in two target markets of the three that the company has chosen (i.e., the Ukrainian and the Russian ones). Consequently, the promotion concept that was utilised in the process had to be altered, which taught an important lesson about the need to translate certain messages from one culture to another in a careful and elaborate manner. Thus, the instances of a culture clash can be avoided.

Additionally, the issue regarding interactions between the organisation and the target denizens of the population needs to be reminded of once more in order to connect the experience acquired with the key principles of the theory of commerce. According to Balkin, the very process of promoting a product or a service, i.e., the notion of a commerce is based on the process of social and cultural interactions: “So, to carry the day, it is simply not enough for Balkin to notice that “commerce” is defined as “intercourse,” and provide a few examples of each term having a “social interaction” connotation” (Barnett 2012, p. 643). In other words, for a company to attract new customers, a dialogue between the organisation in question and the potential clients must be started. Therefore, it is in the company’s interest to use as many tools for tricking customers into starting a conversation as possible and social media is a perfect tool for accomplishing this goal. Despite the fact that the current promotion of the organisation via Facebook can be viewed as comparatively passive, a stronger emphasis on the use of social networks and similar media must be put so that people could engage into a discussion on the topics related to AVVA, Ltd.’s operations and services.

The principles, according to which AVVA, Ltd. operates, as well as the changes, which it undergoes under the influence of the environment that it exists in, may also be viewed from the perspective of Porter’s Value Chain Theory. Consequently, the lessons learned at AVVA can be used as the basis for understanding the model in question and learning to apply it to real life situations. Particularly, I have learned that, in order to approach a company and evaluate its performance, as well as the success of its operations, one must incorporate the company’s partners as the elements of the value chain apart from the organisation and its departments into the analysis. Thus, the perspectives of the firm under consideration can be viewed in a manner as full and explicit as possible.

Power of Innovations

Finally, the ability to suggest innovative and original solutions to specific problems can be considered one of the most valuable lessons that were taught to me during the internship at AVVA, Ltd. first and most obvious, the fact that the organisation aims at bridging the cultures that seem so distant from each other needs to be mentioned as one of the key innovative solutions. Instead of merely supplying products to the target countries, AVVA, Ltd. serves as a cultural and financial mediator between AVVA, the companies that it cooperates with and the target residents of the areas mentioned above. As a result, the furniture supplied by foreign partners become a valuable part of the target market and meets the demands of the local population.

Therefore, apart from teaching the practical application of the theories studied prior to the internship, the experience acquired at AVVA Inc. has also allowed for understanding the alterations, which Porter’s value Chain theory had to undergo in order to turn into the Global Value Chain theory. By displaying the specifics of interactions between different organisations, AVVA, Ltd. has shown in a very graphic manner that, when coordinated well, several different organisations may function as a single entity. Although the companies that cooperated with AVVA pursued different goals and had the mission and vision statements different from those of AVVA, Ltd., the companies managed to integrate into AVVA, Ltd.’s organisational framework with the help of mutual compromises and numerous negotiations. Thus, working for AVVA, Ltd. provided a unique experience of watching a local value chain turn into a global one, the suppliers turning into international vendors. In other words, the experience acquired at AVVA has shown that the process of moving from a local value chain development to a global one, though having similar stages, is unique for each organisation: “Moving up the value chain is then given a specific definition as an upgrading in the set of tasks that a country, an industry, or a firm conducts. For different countries and firms, the task-upgrading pattern may vary” (Liu 2013, p. 2).

In some sense, AVVA Ltd. can be viewed as an innovator in its area; therefore, by participating in its value chain development can be considered an essential stage in defining the importance of innovation in global supply chain management. Though the creation of a global enterprise traditionally requires a very scrupulous, by-the-book approach, AVVA, Ltd. is a graphic example of the fact that the process of integrating into the global supply chain can be carried out in an original and unique manner.

Last, but definitely not least, the issue concerning population segmentation needs to be brought up. When it comes to discussing furniture, one must admit that identifying specific customer segments, which the promotion campaign should be targeted at, is quite difficult mostly due to the fact that furniture is the kind of product that does not have remarkable characteristics allowing a classification based on customers’ personal characteristics. However, working for AVVA, Ltd. has shown that customer segmentation can and should be carried out in the target market so that sales could be boosted significantly and new customers could be attracted. Specifically, the segmentation based on the clients’ income and buying abilities should be mentioned. Although most of the organisations working with AVVA, Ltd. maintain high product quality and, therefore, charge corresponding prices for their products, a range of organisations follow a rather tolerable pricing policy, therefore, creating an opportunity for middle-class buyers to enjoy their services and goods as well.

Therefore, customer segmentation based on the buying abilities thereof is carried out in AVVA, Ltd. despite the obvious focus on the customers with significant financial assets. In addition, the experience acquired at AVVA, Ltd. displays that customer segmentation also needs to be based on age. As the analysis of the company’s net sales and clients’ feedback has shown, the organisation should target at all denizens of population in terms of age; consequently, the products in question need to be marketed to not only adults, but also children, middle-aged people and elderly customers. As a result, the very principle of marketing to the target denizens of the population was altered. After a reconsideration of the current approaches adopted to sell furniture, it was agreed that the existing promotion campaigns target primarily business people of a specific age. To change the given situation and appeal to all denizens of the population, it was suggested that the commercials, as well as the advertisements made available to the public should be very neutral. Thus, the initial message regarding the elegant simplicity of the furniture was tweaked to stress the notions such as comfort and cosiness, which middle-aged population is likely to find attractive. As far as the younger audience is concerned, it was suggested that the emphasis should be put on the issues such as safety, utility and comfort, which parents are most likely to appreciate.

Conclusion

Working at AVVA, Ltd. can be viewed as a unique experience for someone willing to become a sales and marketing expert. While the specified experience was related to the promotion process directly and, therefore, allowed for gaining an impressive amount of knowledge and skills, the company has also revealed important secrets concerning communication and conflict management. Particularly, being a sales and management expert at AVVA, Ltd. meant addressing the current political, economic and financial issues that the residents of the target countries have to deal with and base the company’s policies on the information discovered.

Particularly, working at AVVA involved learning about the means of marketing products (furniture in the specified case) to the target population so that the latter could become interested in the unique opportunities that the company has to offer them. The connection between the choice of marketing tools and the cultural specifics of the target population, as well as the necessity to identify and prevent potential conflicts, has also proven to be an important experience, which a sales manager is bound to find useful at some point of their career.

It would be wrong to assume that working at AVVA, Ltd. has taught me everything that I need to know about marketing and sales; far from it, now that I have learned about some of the strategies traditionally adopted in this realm, I realise that there is still a lot to learn and explore. However, internship at AVVA, Ltd. will serve as the basis for acquiring new knowledge and incorporating it into the array of professional tools for managing marketing processes. The experience acquired during the internship has launched the process of self-directed learning, which helps engage in meta-cognition and understand the very process of learning and skills acquisition. Therefore, the experience in question can and will be used as the means to learn new information and train new skills related to sales and management.

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