Guidance for completing marketing assignments Study skills | Neil Wilkins | 10 October 2017

How to build up to your final submission and the elements to consider along the way.

Consider the theme of your assignment

In other words, what story are you telling to the examiner? This needs to be something your business is facing that you will be using digital to help resolve or deliver. The theme could be based around a market trend, an opportunity you have identified, a key strategic goal of the business, or perhaps launching a new product or developing a new market. It is really important to have a theme so that you can tell a story through your assignment report that demonstrates how you are using digital to solve a real business issue that will help the business. At the same time it makes it easier for you to identify and remind yourself of the all-important ‘return on investment’ that the examiner will be looking to you to provide evidence.

The skeleton

When you have your theme identified you then think about creating the shape of your assignment report. This must not include lots of detail at this stage but is a ‘skeleton’ onto which you put the detail at the next stage.

The shape of your report is created by thinking about your theme as you read through the assignment brief and make notes (with your theme in mind) to answer each of the individual questions presented to you. Remember as you do this to look for what they call command words. These are words like ‘analyse’ which means you need to present a critical (positive and negatives) view of an issue or challenge. Another command word could be ‘recommend’ which would extend your analysis by including your chosen recommendation from what you have seen. It is always a good idea to be critical of your own recommendation. In other words present the reasons why you are recommending something but at the same time be clear with the challenges and issues this recommendation may face. Sometimes it could be as simple as the amount of resource (people, budget and time) required to implement your recommendation. The examiners like this because you are demonstrating that you are thinking more deeply than just the surface of the question and you are considering the real impact on the business of your digital activities.

Add theory to your thoughts

Once you have made the notes and created the skeleton of your report you need to think about the theory from the text books and study guide that you can include to underpin your thinking. Your examiner is consistently looking not just for your commercial view of a situation but that you have introduced some solid, theoretical thinking behind it. This mustn’t just be the world according to you but also based on your understanding of proven knowledge and academic processes and techniques.

Provide your evidence

When you have added your chosen theories and tools to your notes in your skeleton plan, then you need to add in evidence. By evidence we mean subjective and objective examples to show that your thinking and notes are real and based on tangible things not just hearsay. Look here to include research findings, market trends, business data and intelligence, analytics and insights. Always be clear about the source of every piece of evidence. Peer reviewed, in other words highly reliable sources of, evidence is essential. Avoid Wikipedia at all costs. You should endeavour to find references and information from a wide variety of sources. Your study guide is a great starting point for understanding the basis and structure of your course but it won’t provide the range of references sources you need to present. For this, wider reading around the subject, especially online, is essential to ensure you get the best possible mark.

Now put it all together

So you now have your skeleton plan, your notes, the underpinning theory and your evidence. It is time to create your answers for each of the questions in your assignment brief. It should be a simple case of filling in the spaces and weaving a story using your chosen theme as the thread that brings together each of the tasks in the assignment brief.

You must ensure that your report is easy to mark. In other words make sure that whilst we are talking about an almost continuous and integrated story, each task is clearly marked and numbered to the examiner will find it easy to allocate marks to your work. The same can be said of you using your own command words back to the examiner. By this we mean words like evidence, return on investment, intelligence… and above all, remember that your work should balance tactical, or what you are doing today, with strategic, the longer term view for your business. The more you can play back the value you are adding to your business by keeping things strategic, the more marketing will be accepted as an essential part of the growth for the future.

Local vs. international challenges

If you face any local challenges or issues in your marketplace or country that don’t apply elsewhere in the world then it is your responsibility to make this clear in the executive summary, if you include one, in the description of your company and market, if asked for one, or at the very least in an appendix.

There should be no issue in completing an assignment based on a commercial business in any part of the world as long as you are clear about the description of your business, your market place and the challenges, trends and unique features of your situation.