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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

July 27, 2007

Relationship between MBA school ranking & free pens?

Note: This post does not offer practical admissions advice, but it raises a serious marketing question about pen based brand promotion to potential applicants.

Adam's General Rule #1: There is an inverse relationship between MBA school ranking and free pens.

This is a general rule based on my experience attending MBA Tour, World MBA Tour, and other admissions information related events in Tokyo and New York City since 1999.

I began to notice that the highest ranking schools gave nothing but their brochures, while lower ranked schools gave pens, and the lower the rank, generally the better the pen.

INSEAD is an exception to this rule because it is both highly ranked and often gives good pens.

Ranking is not everything, nor is it always the best indication of school quality. However, you will usually find the best and most plentiful supply of pens at lower ranked schools' events and fair booths.

And several top schools, do sometimes give pens, but they are often of dubious quality or in limited quantity. I have been reassured that Duke and Georgetown give pens, but I have never seen them. The one LBS pen I have left me unimpressed as well.

That said, one wonders if pen based marketing is really effective. Do potential applicants decide which school to go to because they got a free pen? Does it even impact their decision to apply? What is the ROI?

I will not attempt to answer these marketing questions, but if you have a professional or scholarly answer, please let me know. Someone has probably written a dissertation on this and maybe it is the subject of an HBS Case Study.

If you are an attendee at MBA admission events, see if my rule is real or not. If it is not, send me proof. If I am shown to be wrong, I will send you a great pen, but not one from INSEAD* because green is my favorite color. And don't worry, I will not run out of great pens because I have lots of them and know where to get more.

*Speaking of ROI, INSEAD has it.**
**This is not a paid endorsement for INSEAD, but it is an endorsement.***
***INSEAD Alum: I know I did not get the right shade of green here. I'm sorry, but you know I love you.

-Adam Markus
アダム マーカス

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