How to Set Your Fee as a Freelancer in the Gig Economy

By Marion McGovern
Founder of M Squared Consulting

Blog editorial note: In a recent blog post here, the director of GGU’s Small Business Program Programs pointed out that all of us will be “entrepreneurs,” working for ourselves. at one point in our lives. Price setting is part of any business venture, but freelancers such as Web developers, creative professionals, or digital marketers are not necessarily MBAs. In the new Gig Economy, these “entrepreneurs” have to know how to set fees – or whether or not to charge an hourly or project rate – as much as how to draw attention with blogs or profiles on LinkedIn or UpWork. Marion McGovern, the author of Thriving in the Gig Economy and a recognized expert on the subject, provides some answers on how much to charge for professional services.

Recently, there was a great article in Medium advocating that all freelancers adopt rush fees. The idea is that urgent projects require special attention that may shuffle the priorities of their existing workload. So, between the extra hours and other client considerations, a premium is due. I heartily agree, not only with the premise but also with the idea that one set price is seldom the answer when pricing a project. There are many considerations that come into play, not the least of which is its urgency. In my recent book, Thriving in the Gig Economy, I point out some other important considerations:

Risk and return are directly correlated. The more risky a project is, whether due to the scope or aggressive goals, the more it should pay. It may seem to some that you are taking advantage of your client; but, the truth of the matter is, a project that could be doomed for failure will not be good for your reputation either. Turnaround situations are a case in point. The potential for failure is high so the rewards should be as well. Conversely, if a project is very low risk, because you have done something similar a thousand times, then a lower fee may be warranted.

Capital formation is a long-term investment. If an engagement is going to build your intellectual capital by broadening your skill base, you should be willing to do it for less than you might otherwise. Because in the long run, you become more marketable and potentially can command higher fees because of the upskilling. For example, launching a project for a different type of branded good, via a new channel, or in a new geography or country could open you up for a whole new array of opportunities. Consider it an investment in your practice and price it accordingly.

Car-sharing firms and rental cars charge differently. Denis Russel, the co-author of my first book, A New Brand of Expertise, had a great pricing analogy for consultants that compared the difference between cabs and rental cars. Today, ride-sharing companies may be the better example.  The idea is that people use Lyft rides and rental cars for different purposes. Uber charges much more per mile than a rental car, since it is a short stint with convenience and urgency at a premium. Similarly, a client who wants a small urgent project yesterday, versus one who is open to a 6-month study should have very different pricing algorithms.

The 1% rule for setting consulting fees helps. Here is another handy rule of thumb; a person’s daily fee should be 1% of his/her equivalent annualized salary. A marketing consultant, who feels $200k would be the going rate for her expertise, should then charge $2000 per day for her services or $250 per hour. A more junior person, who could command $80k per year, should charge $800 per day or $100 per hour. That said, though, keep in mind it is the work, not your pedigree that should determine the price.

Anchor clients deserve a deal. Before the retail world was so disintermediated by online selling, the estate business would refer to the primary retailer in a mall as the anchor tenant. Not only was that key store bringing in the shoppers, they were also paying a significant portion of the rent. An anchor client is one that pays your rent, so to speak, by giving you recurring business. Having that project year in and year out from that one client is a wonderful thing. Some consultants may want to increase the fees after a few years. Unless your costs have risen dramatically as well, resist that impulse. Being able to plan your year with a known piece of work on the books is a luxury for some, and one that should be managed carefully.

Too often freelancers may default to a standard hourly option, but there are many others. Some may or may not be possible if you are working through digital talent platforms.

Government contracting is not for the faint of heart. The state and federal governments are two of the largest consumers of consulting services. The General Services Administration spends about $50 billion annually, much of it earmarked for small businesses. However, doing business with the government as an independent contractor is not easy. No surprises there… To be eligible to win government contracts, you will first need to obtain through Dunn & Bradstreet a D-U-N-S number, a unique nine-digit number. In many cases, you may need a security clearance. You will also need to register with the System for Award Management (SAM). If this seems a bit complicated, that is because it is.

In addition to these considerations, there are also many ways to structure fees. Too often freelancers may default to a standard hourly option, but there are many others. Some may or may not be possible if you are working through digital talent platforms.

Check out my book for more details on pricing so you can better appreciate the beauty of the art.

Marion McGovern’s will be speaking about her book at GGU on Monday, August 13 from 12-2 pm (Rm. 5210). Online registration is required for this special “book review” event. Follow GGU on Twitter or Facebook for registration information when it becomes available.

More About Marion McGovern

Marion McGovern, author and entrepreneur, is a recognized expert on the Gig Economy.  She founded M Squared Consulting nearly 30 years ago, which was one of the First Gig Economy companies before the term was even coined.  She also started an independent contractor compliance company, Collabrus. Now, she is an active Board member and mentor to CEOs. Her new book, Thriving in the Gig Economy was published in July 2017.  Since then, she has appeared on numerous radio shows, including Techonomic, Wall Street Business Network, and School for Start Ups, as well as podcasts including Nerdstalker, Money Matters and Business radio.  She recently presented to the International Women’s Forum and was a keynote speaker at the Staffing Industry Analysts, Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference in September 2017.

From a Cold-Calling Exercise to a Job: An Exercise in Persistence and Courage

By Jing Xin
Candidate, MS Integrated Marketing Communications, ’18

& Public Relations Coordinator, Cross Marketing PR

I really suck at this. Or, at least that was what I thought after a Sales Management class exercise where we had to cold-call businesses and start asking questions. Our professor for the class, Don Surath, wanted us to get the name of the answerer’s boss – and find out if they liked their job. At the end of the 20 minutes, some people get a lot of information, and I felt jealous. I literally did the worst of anyone in the class.

When I heard that another assignment was to get an “ultimate decision maker” to consent to an interview, I thought: I am going to withdraw from this class. However, it became the highlight of my experience at GGU. With persistence and a little courage, I went from the worst to one of the best in the class. I was eventually able to achieve something that was completely outside my comfort zone but requires sales techniques that are essential for any business professional. And I got my first marketing job.

We learn hands-on at GGU.

We are all afraid of talking to people. So, in another exercise, Don had us walk around downtown and ask businesses to see if they had a Yellow Pages phone directory. As I went from Verizon Wireless to Mikado Sushi, feeling like I was being watched by people as if was somewhat mentally troubled, I realized how this course was exposing my vulnerabilities: the difficulty of starting a conversation, fear of judgment and rejection, and the inability to control situations. But by pushing and trying, and applying the real-world techniques Don gave us, I had a route to getting to be one of the best cold callers.

Claudia Ross, CEO, Cross Marketing Public Relations

I was new to marketing and was working in a bio research lab when I got to the Sales Management Class. At the time, I was having discussions with my advisor (and Marketing Chair) Blodwen Tarter, and she suggested that I reach out to companies for informational interviews. At about the same time, Don handed us the Ultimate Decision Makers assignment. I tried to connect this task with what I needed most to prepare myself for a career in marketing. Then I came up with an idea: Why not conduct a series of informational interviews so that I can help myself and my classmates at GGU get to know some marketing and PR agencies in San Francisco?

I met peers in class who worked in ad agencies or sales who shared how they talk to people. These are great moments…

I started to cold call these companies and ask for their CEOs, precisely following Professor Surath’s instructions and saying, simply, “I wonder if you could help me,” and waiting for them to say yes. Eventually, I had one receptionist interested in what I intended to do. From her, I got the cellphone number of Claudia Ross, the CEO of Cross Marketing PR.

She picked up her cell the second time, but to meet Claudia in person was not easy. Her schedule was changing every minute, and, we had to cancel and postpone the interview twice. Then I proposed the “check-with-Claudia-every-morning” approach. Luckily, Claudia agreed. The day of the interview was rough as well. Something unavoidable (really, it turned out) had come up. I offered to “stick around” the reception area for a few hours, and finally was able to meet Claudia.

Each of the steps that led me to the interview was very difficult, among hardest was the fear of uncertainty. With instructions from Professor Surath and his book Conquering Cold Calling Fear, the process of following up for the interview has made me realize how important it is to be confident and persistent.

…by pushing and trying, and applying the real-world techniques Don gave us, I had a route to getting to be one of the best cold callers.

I applied for a position at Cross Marketing PR soon after my Decision Maker interview with Claudia, and she immediately hired me. Now I now handle a wide range of tasks at the agency – from media relations to social media and content management. Compared to my former career in scientific research, which was rather solitary, my new job in marketing and public relations requires the interaction and understanding of people that I enjoy very much.

The Ultimate Decision Maker experience has also shown me that as long as we are willing to reach out to the most successful business people; connecting with them and learning directly from them is easier than you might think.

Request information about certificates and master’s degree in Marketing >>

How I Earned a “Seat” Next to the CEO of United Airlines: A Cold Calling Exercise at Golden Gate University

By Milfred Galarreta (Candidate, MS, Integrated Marketing Communications, Class of ’19)

In the fall of 2017, on a typical morning in Sacramento and while still groggy in bed – after having arrived from Golden Gate University in San Francisco past midnight – I received a text message. Not just any message, but one from the CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz:

I completely forgot, my apologies. I am hosting a big event this morning at SFO from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., but it’s inside the airport and I leave shortly after that.  If you provide me your email, I’ll see if I can get you on the invite list.

In my sleepy state, I watched my plans for the day explode like a supernova. Yet, in the back of my mind, I could hear Don Surath, my Sales Management professor who gave my class the cold-calling assignment to reach an Ultimate Decision Maker, saying: “You can do it, run! Say YES and deal with it later.” Amazing results don’t come for free: Within 10 minutes I was out the door and on my way to San Francisco. I got the interview!

When Oscar first contacted me, I told him that I had enough United Airlines frequent flyer miles – over 100,000! – to meet him anywhere; but on this occasion, I only needed to go 100 miles by train and rideshare. At that point, I called a friend from the class, Dora Nguyen (MS, Marketing, Class of ’18), to come with me for support and to make sure I handled the assignment as our professor would expect. She was also groggy but agreed to come along. Si se puede!

This GGU experience allowed me to reach a goal and also shaped me into a more determined person.

Determination in Sales

Prior to that text message, it had taken over 100 phone calls, plus emails and LinkedIn notes – along with researching where Oscar might be at any given time –  to get the interview. I then had a big moment of disappointment.

When I finally had a commitment from Oscar, the confirmation I was supposed to get never came – so I pulled out my “Cancellation Turtle.” It’s a way of handling bad news Professor Surath taught us that comes from chocolate turtles he kept in his drawer when bad news happened. (He’d eat chocolate turtles then call his best customer.) As I ate my chocolates – a Peruvian brand called Sublime – a stream of thoughts came to me about what I was grateful for. An attitude of gratefulness is important in life. By the time I was done eating my “Cancellation Turtle” chocolates and taking a walk, I felt serene.

Left to right: Dora, Oscar, and Milfred.

The Interview

On the day of our interview, Oscar was visiting San Francisco for a ceremony commemorating the last flight of the iconic Boeing 747. His calendar was booked for what seemed like every minute of this day. Three people were waiting outside the door for their turn to meet with him. He was sacrificing his lunch to talk to us.

…it had taken over 100 phone calls, plus emails and LinkedIn notes — along with researching where Oscar might be at any given time — to get the interview.

I was nervous; but Dora, who I had watched interview a general manager for Hilton Hotels (for the same assignment), broke the ice by saying: “I am an admirer.” I was too. I read about Oscar’s background and admired him as one of the only, and most accomplished, Latino CEOs in the U.S. I sent him several emails and LinkedIn messages, and wonder if the one that got his attention was: You were Latin, before it was cool to be Latin. This was my last message before he contacted me.

From Dora’s opening comment forward, it was like talking to somebody we knew. I could tell that in the short time we were there, he wanted to pass as much wisdom as possible to us. A few things he said piqued my interest. To paraphrase, he said: There are two ways to measure success; one is money; and one that is measured in completely human terms. The human quality is the only thing that is valuable and durable and truly makes you happy. I try to teach folks, especially like you: listen, study hard, work hard, and take care of yourselves and others; and just watch how many things accrue over time. People around you, at work, appreciate you if you are genuine and truly care about them. It makes a big difference. At the end of the day, your life is measured by what you leave behind. It is in the people around you: your spouse, your children, and your friends.

I realized that Oscar is more than the CEO of United Airlines, but a down-to-earth person who makes everyone around him feel like someone special. He also summed up his ideas by saying that, “by adding human to smart,” your career will reach its true potential.

On the train to San Francisco

Deeper Learning

This GGU experience allowed me to reach my goal and also shaped me into a more determined person. In addition to never giving up, my takeaway is that while it is alright to be driven, we need to learn to slow down and love people — and listen to the advice of those who are more experienced. I can now say to others: don’t forget that people have to care about you before they will help you.

I am continuing my travels on United Airlines! Last year I visited Ireland, Portugal, Peru, and New Zealand. This year I visited Cuzco, Peru and I am traveling to Japan and Hong Kong in August, and maybe Rome in December.

Here’s a big thank you Professor Don Surath, and to my Ultimate Decision Maker, Oscar Munoz: You both impacted my life for the better.

Interested in learning some of the techniques used by this GGU student? Don Surath will be conducting a seminar on how to reach high-level decision makers this summer at our downtown San Francisco campus. Watch GGU’s Facebook page for details.

Request information about the Master’s Degree in Marketing >>

Marketing Luxury Brands: Expert from GGU Helps Bridge the Gap Between Academia and Industry at International Conferences

Photo: AGAATI California

Golden Gate University’s Nabanita Talukdar, DBA, made her way to major conferences in Monaco and Singapore recently to share the results of her research into luxury brands. Her presentations centered around two papers she authored that examined consumption motives in this segment of the industry. Dr. Talukdar teaches courses in Marketing, Business Analytics, and Mathematics courses at GGU — and holds the title of Visiting Assistant Professor & Director of Math Programs. Outside of academia, she conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses for L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, First Republic Bank, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals.

All three conferences centered on the luxury brands industry, bringing together top academics and industry leaders from around the world to share academic research and insights.

Monaco Symposium on Luxury

The Monaco Symposium on Luxury, organized by the International University of Monaco & INSEEC Business School, is a biannual event that attracted close to 250 attendees in April. Dr. Talukdar’s paper, co-authored with Dr. Shubin Yu of Peking University HSBC Business School, was among the 42 presentations selected for the conference through a competitive peer-review process (conducted by fellow researchers and luxury industry leaders). The paper, “Are Materialists Green? The effect of Materialism on Consumer’s perceived value and purchase intention of sustainable luxury products,” was based on a sponsored research grant from AGAATI to GGU. AGAATI, one the few luxury fashion companies focused on sustainability, wanted to understand motives behind purchasing decisions in the sustainable luxury category.

The AGAATI-GGU project had three parts: a focus group drawn from a pool of GGU alumni, employees, and students; a pilot survey that was sent to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago; and a luxury brand experiment using GGU students to understand the underlying psychological mechanism driving the purchase of sustainable luxury brands. In the pilot survey and the experiment, Dr. Talukdar was assisted by Michael Lin, a student in GGU’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. Lin worked as a research assistant (RA) in the first study and assisted in data collection & analyses.


Dr. Talukdar at the LVMH-SMU Conference

LVMH-SMU and the Mystique of Luxury Brands Conference, Singapore

In May, Dr. Talukdar traveled to Singapore to present her research at the LVMH-SMU Conference and Mystique of Luxury Brands (MLB) Conference. The LVMH-SMU is an initiative of a strategic partnership between Singapore Management University (SMU) and LVMH (Louis Vuitton), in order to produce and deliver independent and high-quality academic research dedicated to the Asian luxury-brand sector.

Prominent industry experts and over 80 academics from more than 50 universities attended the LVMH-SMU Conference 2018. Dr. Talukdar presented her (complete) paper: “Are Materialists Green? The effect of Materialism on Consumer’s perceived value and purchase intention of sustainable luxury products.”


Dr.  Shubin Yu (left) and Dr. Nabanita Talukdar at
the Marketing Luxury Brands Conference

The MLB Conference 2018 was organized by Curtin University’s Luxury Branding Research Cluster. A working paper that Talukdar co-authored, “The Effect of Sustainability Claims for Luxury Brands,” was her contribution to the event. Co-author Dr. Shubin Yu, of Peking University HSBC Business School, made the presentation to the audience.

For more on Dr. Talukdar’s luxury brand marketing research, watch the video about AGAATI’s sponsored research project >>

Learn more about Dr. Talukdar, her research, and what she teaches at GGU. We also invite you to request information about the master’s degree in marketing.


Business Analytics Project at Digital Ad Agency Leads to Promotion & Google Award

The creative function is what most people think of when you say, “ad agency,” and what attracts people to the field. Although SEO and engaging people through social media are the core competencies, data – if used well – makes a big competitive difference. In an age of all-digital advertising, Jeremy Bice (MBA, ’17) says “everything is data-driven.” Agencies need to crunch the data with great precision to see what ads are working with indicators like cost-per-click, as well as conversions and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS).

Bice started off at Logical Position, a digital marketing agency, as an account manager but had an interest in data that stretched back to his work in signals intelligence in the Marines. He moved from accounts to the paid search team, which relies on Google’s AdWords for its clients’ digital marketing data.

Customer retention is critical to any business, and the agency wanted ways to improve the numbers. “We hypothesized that we might find data hidden in our in-house data and Google AdWords about which clients were in jeopardy and what to do about it,” says Bice. For his efforts and those on his teams, Google gave the agency an award for integrating and leveraging its data.

Discoveries about the Client Life Cycle

Using business analytics skills he learned at Golden Gate University, such as Python and R programming, Bice discovered that there was a relationship between clients’ spend level and the client life-cycle — which spans onboarding to multiyear relationships. The results revealed that clients were most likely to become more engaged or drop at certain stages. The team also discovered that if clients made it past a certain lifespan milestone, their customer lifespan would rise significantly. That’s where services could be bolstered.

Bice and the team also integrated customer interactions with staff with the AdWords data—and did a text analysis on the staff notes with Python. Staff also rated how the calls went on a scale from 1-5, adding another dimension to discover customer engagement.

“…when I look at a data visualization with someone at work,
they immediately say one thing, but I can offer an interpretation based on the business processes as a whole. That is very useful.”

—Jeremy Bice (MBA, ’17)

Predictive Analysis

After standardizing and consolidating data, adding new fields to supplement Google data, Logical Position had what Bice calls a “risk profiler.” He set up a predictive model that allows them to alert account managers about which accounts may not be being served the best and determine what corrective action could be taken.

Business Analytics and Customer Segments

Bice also uncovered data that showed unexpected connections between customer segments and performance. “We did a deep dive for average monetary performance on accounts when we threw in the AdWords metrics.” Through this in-house data analysis, they discovered that fluctuations in revenue were much more useful in predicting cancellations in large clients than small ones.

Making New Business Decisions

Logical Position made company decisions based on their interpretations, making this a true business analytics project. The difference between small and large clients led the agency to change how they served smaller clients — improving onboarding would increase revenue.

Soft skills that Bice learned at GGU also come into play during the project: “At GGU, I learned how to research businesses and got a lot out of class discussions about how they work and use their data. Now, when I look at a data visualization with someone at work, they immediately say one thing, but I can give them an alternative explanation. I can offer an interpretation based on the business processes as a whole. That is very useful.”

Next Step

On the strength of his customer-retention project, the agency created a new position for him in a new department called Operations Development that creates internal tools and processes to help the company scale efficiently. Bice passes on recommendations to programmers; and, with management support, they develop new applications.

The next step for Bice, he says, is to dig deeper into a data science role as his career progresses.

Request information about the MBA or MS in Data Analytics at GGU >>

International Graduate Students at GGU in San Francisco

In honor of International Education Week, we’d like to share the stories of students from overseas who are in graduate school at GGU’s San Francisco campus. Among the international students from over 46 countries are:

Tsovinar Yenokyan (MS, Marketing ’18), Armenia


Tsovinar has been driven to succeed from an early age. She started to work at age 16, which was not common in her native country of Armenia, and began what she calls her, “long-lasting relationship with marketing.” Two years later, she took a Brand Manager position at Starcom Mediavest in Armenia.

Each student has an advisor and mine has been helpful in answering questions about student Visas and my curriculum.

Tsovinar’s story >>

Jatin Jaiswal (MBA, Marketing Concentration ’17), India

Jatin made his way from India to Golden Gate University in part to take advantage of San Francisco’s innovative technology environment. He landed an internship at a local start-up called FinTech School where he applies skills he picked up at GGU such as SEO, email marketing, and social media. But he says a big part of his education has been learning how to collaborate with people with different backgrounds and personalities.

Steve Jobs said that people are there to help you and all you have to do is ask. In San Francisco, I had coffee with people from Salesforce just by writing them through LinkedIn.  You may not get a job, but it leads to the next thing.

Jatin’s story >>

Zhaoqian (Anna) Zeng (MBA, Supply Chain ’17), China

Zhaoqian (Anna) Zeng is from China where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Law from Shanghai’s Customs College. After working in import and export operations, she wanted to expand her career. Golden Gate University provided a very comprehensive program in Supply Chain that covered the aspects of operations she found the most interesting: strategy and tactical operations.

San Francisco is a very welcoming place and people from different cultures feel comfortable here. There are young, energetic people here who are absorbing new information every day. These are the reasons I want to stay here after I complete my degree.

Anna’s story >>

Hussain Aziz Sham (MS, Marketing ’19), India / Dubai

Hussain a member of the Student IT Advisory Board, a Graduate Student Assistant in the GGU eLearning Department, and Vice President of the GGU Marketing Club. The members of the club participated in the Marketing Edge competition this year, which challenges student teams to produce a marketing plan to solve a real marketing problem posed by a real company.


At GGU, you will have the chance to meet, collaborate and make friendship with students who come from all over the world – India, the Middle East, China, and others — and bring their unique experience into classroom discussions and projects.

Hussain’s story >>

Learn how GGU supports its international students from start to finish >>

Dr. Nabanita Talukdar Involves Students in Sustainable-Fashion Research

AGAATI offers sustainable, luxury womenswear and is committed to various sustainable initiatives such as designing collections made only from natural fibers, following a zero-waste philosophy, and supporting fair trade. A Silicon Valley start-up, AGAATI has also made a commitment to contribute a portion of their profits to non-profit organizations addressing the impact of “fast fashion.” As the company is one the few luxury fashion companies focused on sustainability, AGAATI sponsored research at GGU to understand motives behind purchasing decisions in this category.

The qualitative and quantitative studies were spearheaded by Dr. Nabanita Talukdar, whose research primarily focuses on materialism and other consumption motives associated with luxury brands.  The project had three parts:

  • A focus group of nine female participants drawn from a pool of GGU alumni, employees, and students–many of whom showed an interest in sustainable luxury brands
  • A pilot survey, based on focus group results, that was sent to 247 female subjects in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago
  • A luxury brand experiment using 56 GGU students to establish the causality among the variables driving the purchase of sustainable luxury brands

“At GGU we are committed to bringing real-world knowledge to the classroom. By participating in the focus group and the experiment, students learned about how such methodological approaches can be applied to business research.”

—Dr. Nabanita Talukdar

In this third project, Dr. Talukdar was assisted by doctoral student Michael Lin from GGU’s DBA program. Lin’s research focuses on exploring the economic trends in the emerging industries of eSports, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

“I would like to thank AGAATI as well as the university students, faculty, and staff for their support,” says Talukdar. “My students found this experience enjoyable and educational. At GGU we are committed to bringing real-world knowledge to the classroom. By participating in the focus group and the experiment, students learned about how such methodological approaches can be applied to business research. I am grateful to AGAATI for giving GGU the opportunity to work with them, and we look forward to continuing to serve the Bay Area business community with our research expertise and resources.”

The students also got an opportunity to participate in a workshop on SPSS – a widely used tool in business to analyze research findings – and experimental design. This gave the students an opportunity to understand experimental methodology from Dr. Shubin (Lance) Yu, Postdoctoral researcher, Peking University, China.

Watch the video to learn more about the research project.

Anand Pradhan,  Co-founder of AGAATI, says: “We are excited about the research partnership with GGU  on understanding and driving sustainability into the luxury fashion market.  We thank the professors and students for the strong research support. We are confident that the research results which we obtained through GGU will further help us in successfully continuing our mission to design the most fashionable clothes in the sustainable category. AGAATI’s collections are already generating buzz because of the significant interest from media and customers.” You can keep up with AGAATI’s Instagram account via Yooying.

About Nabanita Talukdar

Nabanita Talukdar holds a DBA in Marketing (’16) and an MS in Finance (’09) from Golden Gate University. She also holds an MBA in Marketing and a BS in Geology, Physics & Math from universities in India. Her research interests include luxury brands and digital marketing, social media analytics and luxury marketing, and the use of marketing science in luxury marketing. She has presented her research in both domestic and international conferences.  Outside of academia, she has worked in industry — conducting quantitative and qualitative analyses for L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, First Republic Bank, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals. She is involved with social causes dedicated to providing educational opportunities to underprivileged populations.

Request information about GGU’s Marketing programs >>

GGU Faculty Member Blodwen Tarter Honored by GGU and Marketing Edge

Dr. Blodwen Tarter, Professor and Chair of Marketing and Public Relations at GGU, has been writing award-winning case studies in marketing since 2007.  Case studies ask students to analyze real-world situations and develop solutions in order to apply what they learn in classes. Her work has been consistently recognized by Marketing Edge, a national nonprofit organization committed to introducing and engaging professors and university students in the thriving business of marketing.  At GGU’s Spring 2017 commencement ceremony, she was presented with the annual Scholarship award, as selected by her peers on the full-time faculty.

This recognition was based on Dr. Tarter’s long-term track record of published outstanding case studies. In 2016, she was awarded two prizes by Marketing Edge in their annual case-writing competition, winning a Silver award for a case on Save the Redwoods’ campaign “Take a walk in the redwoods—on us!” and a Bronze award for a co-authored case about Pacific Gas and Electric. Here is an example of her work from Save the Redwoods’ campaign:

Save the Redwoods League is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the diminishing redwood forests of California. In 2015, outdoor goods retailer REI launched a marketing campaign #OptOutside, which encouraged consumers to enjoy the outdoors on the day after Thanksgiving, rather than to indulge in the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday. Save the Redwoods League leapt on the opportunity to leverage REI’s national campaign by developing Free Redwood Parks Day, offering free park passes for all 49 redwood state parks for the day after Thanksgiving.  The case study details the speedy planning and implementation of the event, provides examples of the marketing assets, and shows how metrics confirmed the enormous success of the #OptOutside#IntoTheRedwoods. campaign. Students are then challenged to develop a campaign for the following year.

A key collaborator, the Redwood League’s Chief Communications Officer, Jennifer Benito-Kowalksi, is a 2004 graduate of GGU (MS, Integrated Marketing Communications) and a veteran of Dr. Tarter’s classes. The case features videos interviewing Benito-Kowalski.  An outdoor enthusiast, Blodwen was excited to work on this project.

More Awards in 2017

This year, Dr. Tarter was notified by Marketing Edge that a case about Shinola, a lifestyle brand headquartered in Detroit, is another award-winner. She and co-author Matt Fisher, an adjunct faculty member and student in GGU’s Doctor of Business Administration program, will present the case in October at the Marketing Edge annual conference.

We asked Blodwen Tarter to describe the attributes of an effective case study. She listed:

Builds judgment skills by including ambiguities
Has a well-written and compelling story
Requires solutions from the students without a single “right” answer
Often includes extraneous information to encourage critical thinking
Incorporates real data, if possible, about the subject organization
Demonstrates relevance to current marketing issues and practices

About Blodwen Tarter, PhD

Blodwen Tarter has more than 25 years of management experience in marketing, product and systems development (including website development and e-commerce), strategic planning, and operations management with an emphasis on financial services and information technology. Her employers and clients have included Mead (now RockTenn), Knight-Ridder, Charles Schwab, Ziff Corporation, Wells Fargo, and several Silicon Valley start-ups. At Golden Gate University, she teaches a variety of marketing courses, including marketing management, direct and database marketing, digital marketing and e-commerce, as well as new product development and consumer behavior.

Dr. Tarter holds a BA with Distinction and MA from Stanford University, an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago, and a PhD from Golden Gate University. She chairs the Marketing and Public Relations department in the Ageno School of Business and has received several teaching awards.

Request information about GGU’s Marketing  degrees and certificates >>

Building Leadership and Teamwork Skills at Golden Gate University

Jatin Jaiswal (MBA, Marketing Concentration ’17) made his way from India to Golden Gate University in part to take advantage of San Francisco’s innovative technology environment. He landed an internship at a local start-up called FinTech School where he applies skills he picked up at GGU such as SEO, email marketing, and social media. But he says a big part of his education has been learning how to collaborate with people with different backgrounds and personalities.

“The team exercises in my Team Dynamics and Managerial Analysis class were transformational for me, and I could see other people change too,” he says. The class was taught by Heather Cowan, who has held senior positions at Genentech and Autodesk where she currently serves as ‎Director of Learning and Organization Development. The students were assigned to groups of six with a balance of personality styles as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Each group had to work through a project starting with an informal kickoff meeting and ending with a group decision on a single course of action.

Jaiswal had his turn to lead the group during the project. “As a leader, you have to get the conversation started and keep it going. For example, you have to watch people that are introverted and bring them into the dynamic and be aware of their tendency to be agreeable. You learn to see the other side of a conversation and find out if there is something blocking progress—and then unblock it! I handle situations differently after taking the class. I take more time to think about what I am doing and understand my colleagues better.”

“The class was transformational for me, and I could see other people change too.”

As for the future, Jaiswal sees a huge opportunity presented by the San Francisco Bay Area tech environment for providing specialized consulting services to companies. “My business partner is from the Ukraine, and his culture is different, but we are working together towards a common goal.”

Jaiswal on Networking in San Francisco

“Steve Jobs said that people are there to help you and all you have to do is ask. In San Francisco, I had coffee with people from Salesforce just by writing them through LinkedIn.  You may not get a job, but it leads to the next thing. San Francisco is a very welcoming city, and you have access to all kinds of companies like Microsoft, Uber, and Tesla.”

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Golden Gate University Ranked #1 in US for Adult Learners for Second Consecutive Year

For the second consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranks Golden Gate University America’s #1 School for Adult Learners in its annual College Guide and Rankings.

How GGU Was Chosen

To compile the rankings, Washington Monthly reviewed data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey, the department’s new College Scorecard database and the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges.

The metrics that determined GGU’s rating include:

  • ease of transfer/enrollment
  • flexibility of programs
  • services available for adult learners
  • percent of adult students (age 25+)
  • mean earnings of adult students ten years after entering college
  • loan repayment of adult students five years after entering repayment
  • tuition and fees for in-district students

Read the article in Washington Monthly >>