‘Playing’ with the Audience and Economic Creativity
Marketing is a continuous creativity, an exciting game, a deep practical science, and a serious profession, believes Olga Kozhina. She is a marketer and entrepreneur with many years of working experience in that area. The expert knows how to sense the audience subtly, analyse business projects in smallest detail, and transform them effectively. Olga Kozhina teaches the younger generation of professionals to do all that. In her interview with the Global Women Media, she shared her vision of modern advertising, entrepreneurship, and education in the field of marketing.
marketing expert, economic manager, lecturer
Olga Kozhina is not only a great professional in her field but also a living example of infinite purposefulness, love of learning, and constant development motivating all people around her. It took her just a year to complete her studies at the 11th school grade and pass exams for the 1st and 2nd years of higher education training. She started being seriously engaged in business before reaching the age of 18. By the age of 20, she had already got a diploma with honours and considerable professional experience.
Today, Olga Kozhina provides entrepreneurs with consulting services as a marketer and economic manager and helps them solve problems of varying complexity. The expert also teaches at the Advertising and Communication College of MKIK. She is a practitioner with a true passion for marketing and business, a researcher with a deep scientific view of the professional environment, a mentor with her own creative approach and care for the rising generation, and a very open, positive, and inspiring person.
– How did your professional path begin?
– When I was studying at the National Institute of Business in Moscow, my friend and I decided to start our own business. I was under the age of 18 at the time, so I had to undergo the emancipation procedure to be able to certify documents with my signature before reaching the age of majority. Our business was related to the trade sector. As its Deputy CEO, I was responsible for all the accounting, purchasing goods, supervision of deliveries, and communication with the official insurance and tax authorities.
It started out as just a small stall. However, a few years later, we had two fully-fledged shops. Later, our business grew into a property management and consultancy company.
Simultaneously with those activities, I started teaching and that became my passion. Upon graduation, I was asked to teach a course in entrepreneurship organisation for the correspondence department as part of my second degree. I enjoyed being helpful to people. The students asked me a lot of questions, listened to my lectures, and learned from my experience. The thing is that I was not just a teacher: I was a real entrepreneur who knew the market not from a textbook but from everyday practice. Moreover, my practical knowledge was as close to our times as possible.
At first, teaching was more of a hobby for me, which supplemented my main job. Over time, I went deeper into the field as a professional focusing specifically on education. I began to teach marketing, marketing research and communication, consumer behaviour, product promotion, and organisation-focused economics at higher and secondary vocational educational institutions. Today, more than 15 years later, I continue to do that with great inspiration.
– What do you find most interesting in the field of marketing?
– I became interested in marketing when I was a student. My university lecturer delivered the material in a very interesting way. That encouraged me to go deeper into the subject after classes and search for more information on my own. Taking into consideration the fact that we were opening our own business at the time, I can say that I immediately found practical application for my knowledge.
Today, marketing is my main speciality and I am interested in everything related to it. Marketing is what surrounds us in everyday life. As an expert, I apply marketing knowledge every day, often without even thinking about it. Setting goals, defining objectives, competing, promoting and positioning a person as an expert, evaluating and analyzing the information critically are all about marketing. As you can see, we can apply that knowledge not only to the sale of some tangible products.
Being a marketer is a vocation and even a ‘disease’ to some extent. When using transport, shopping, walking, communicating with people, or doing something else, you pay your attention to how companies present themselves and their products, how competitors work, and how brands develop. I record the most interesting cases to share and discuss them with my students. Sometimes we even try to predict the actions of certain companies, politicians, countries together with them.
Marketing is an economic art. Selling a product is much more difficult than producing it. To do that, one needs to have a fine sense of the audience and to be in constant search of interesting formats of interacting with it.
In general, a marketer is a professional with deep knowledge of advertising, psychology, sales, and management. He or she must be partially a lawyer, an accountant, a researcher, and a practitioner at the same time. A marketing expert is a person with creative and analytical thinking who must have intuition and be able to plan his or her actions on the basis of facts.
– What is modern advertising about? What are its peculiar features?
– In my research and practice, I pay special attention to the topic of modern marketing communication: the interaction between seller and buyer, business and people. This is a ‘double-edged’ tool, which can manifest itself in advertising, communication, public relations, and many other interesting formats. Psychology plays a special role in that concept.
One of my monographs was devoted to product placement, which is also an interesting means of marketing communication.
This is a rather unconventional tool, which is not directly related to the Advertising Act but is particularly popular today. It is about showcasing or describing products in the context of detached entertainment formats: in fiction books, films, TV series, or computer games. For example, the main character may use particular brands of car, shampoo, or clothes. As a rule, when one uses that method wisely, the audience doesn’t perceive it as direct advertising. At the same time, it has a strong impact on the subconscious of the consumer.
As part of the research for my monograph, I conducted a survey, in which I asked people about what motivates them to buy a particular product and how their choice is influenced by product placement. Many of the teenagers interviewed said that in the future they would like to buy a car like the character in their favourite film or to try the food and drinks they had seen in the TV series.
The modern world is overfilled with information, which is not always reliable. That is why human brain strives to filter out the ‘information noise’. In that sense, direct advertising is often considered to be distrusting.
In order to influence the modern consumer, marketers have to invent creative and increasingly unconventional approaches that influence the subconsciousness of clients. Product placement is one of those very methods. For us, anything that we see not in advertising but in films or books, is close to life. We perceive that as a piece of advice from a good friend, especially if we love and trust the author or director as a person.
Good modern advertising is very interesting thanks to its sophistication, creativity, and subtle approach to audience research. It’s a delicate art and at the same time an exciting game where the prizes are attention and, as a result, sales success.
– What should people who decide to get involved in business know in the first turn today?
– They should know a lot. I would advise entrepreneurs, even if they employ lawyers, accountants, marketing experts, and other professionals, to have at least a superficial knowledge of their work.
A business is a complex and coherent mechanism. The entrepreneur is its backbone or the one who makes sure that it operates smoothly and steadily.
In addition to knowledge, flexibility is vital for entrepreneurs. One needs to understand that business should not just be a hobby bringing pleasure. It should also generate income and meet the current needs of society. To make that possible, it is necessary to make use of the resources the entrepreneur has in the most rational and efficient way.
I still deliver consulting services on starting and developing businesses in a variety of ways. I see my main mission in preventing people from making mistakes. Sometimes large-scale transformations are needed and we radically change the paths that people have already chosen. I ran one such consulting project for several years being in constant contact with the entrepreneur. During that time, we reoriented his business from publishing and advertising to catering and then to real estate leasing and selling. Those changes were not easy both technically and psychologically. However, they have made it possible to achieve great results and create a business, which meets both the entrepreneur’s potential and the needs of society.
Business always presupposes the responsibility for risks, the ability to readjust, and the willingness to take a step not only forward but also backward.
– Why is it important for you to be not only a marketer but also a lecturer? What principles do you use in your teaching activities?
– My main teaching principle is based on mutual respect and understanding. I teach different age groups: college students who are very young people just starting out and higher education students who often include experienced professionals from other areas. I treat all of them with the same respect. I consider both older and younger students as my colleagues.
In education, as well as in marketing, I am interested in not just passing on my knowledge to others but also in building a dialogue, a mutual exchange. In my opinion, that is the only effective way of any communication.
I believe that absolutely any student can be interested in the educational process, just as any consumer can be interested in advertising. The main thing is to use a proper approach, find a common ground, and to explain why a person needs that. When a student clearly understands how he or she can use the knowledge received, how it is valuable and useful, the study becomes many times more effective and fruitful.
– What would you wish the young generation of professionals?
– Never stop learning and developing, study not only disciplines directly linked to your profession but also related subjects.
Marketing is a very vast and multifaceted field. It requires to expand your worldview and competencies constantly.
I would also advise young generation to take interest in world culture and world art. They bring up humanity in each of us and develop us as personalities. They will certainly be useful for all students in their profession. Culture, art, marketing, and business are primarily about people.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov