memo counts towards word limit ). 2 B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e
The assignment should contain THREE PARAGRAPHS (no need for headings or sub-headings):
Major Problem / Summary of recommendations: You must identify what you perceive to be the major problem facing the company in this first paragraph. You must summarize in specific terms your proposed action and the benefits such action will bring to the organization. Specific suggests that you present recommendations in precise enough terms for a manager to make a decision after reading the first paragraph if the case situation were real and s/he agreed with your proposal.
Rationale behind Recommendations: In this section, you will provide more specifics about your recommendations; including any pertinent background information that caused you to draw the conclusions that you did. This should include data from the case, and theoretical frameworks and concepts learned in class. For example, you could summarize the market, competitive, and internal factors behind your decision, giving a rationale for adopting your action plan in Paragraph 3 and discarding alternatives.Note, no plan is perfect, so you must examine the potential drawbacks to your recommendation.
Action Plan: How will you achieve your goals? How will you bring these recommendations to fruition? This section must include a discussion of the marketing mix – including specifics about product or service (PRODUCT) the distribution (PLACE), pricing strategies (PRICE), advertising and promotion (PROMOTION). Also, you could list any other tactics that specifically address the problem in the company. Finally, does your Action Plan create any drawbacks as well? If so, how would you proceed?
Other important points:
- Include any quantitative analysis (profit calculations; break even etc.) that you believe would be important for the reader to understand the case that you are making. However, for this class I recommend that you focus on qualitative strategic issues. To that end, on occasion I will provide you with the required results of the quantitative analysis.
- Exhibits should be used judiciously. Use them to explain concepts that supplement your recommendations.This also gives you more space in the memo to make your case.
- This is a business memo. As stated earlier you should NOT use a conversational style and do NOT include personal anecdotes (e.g., When I was in Europe, the guys bought this stuff every day.)
- You assume the role of the main character who has to address the major issue; however, some students prefer to take the role of an outside consultant. Note, assuming either role is fine.
BE CONCISE: Flowery language has no place in a professional memo. If a paragraph is taking up half a page or more, it is not worded concisely enough and contains unnecessary information.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: What additional information does the memo recipient need from you to make an informed decision? Use case data sparingly e.g., If writing a memo to the CEO of Mountain Man Brewing Co., there is no need to discuss the history of the company, or the existing product line.
STAY OBJECTIVE: To keep arguments as objective and unemotional as possible, avoid referring to yourself in the first person (“I believe”, “I think” etc.) unless absolutely necessary.
ANTICIPATE COUNTERARGUMENTS: Your recommendation and action plan are not perfect; acknowledge its imperfections and explain why the pros outweigh the cons. (e.g., you might state: “Even though reducing the price of Bose headphones may impact its image as a prestige brand, it is imperative that we do so because…”
1. Memoranda cannot be more than 550 words unless otherwise instructed (only the main body of the memo counts towards word limit).
2. Exhibits are not mandatory and should be used only when needed. If you use exhibits, make sure you reference them accurately in the text. Exhibits that are not referenced in the memo or that come across as superfluous will count against you. You are allowed 500 additional words for exhibits, but they MUST be relevant.
3. Please point out in the body of the memorandum those aspects of the exhibits to which particular attention should be given, and explain how those important factors are relevant to your arguments and recommendations.
4. Use footnotes in the exhibits to explain calculations or intricate relationships. Do not use footnotes in the main body of your memo.
5. Use a business/professional writing style (e.g., simple declarative sentences, active voice, avoid techno-babble and acronyms, focus on the relevant issues). Please avoid slang and a conversational style.
6. Please proofread your memoranda and exhibits carefully. There are writing services available for students that allow you to improve the readability of your written work. Please make use of them. Information is available through the Graduate Programs office.This is the single biggest pet peeve that I have regarding case memos and the one that is the easiest to remedy.
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