My internship experience
As part of my master’s degree in corporate communication at Aarhus University in Denmark, I have been an intern at Tronvig Group for 8 weeks now. How do I put this … I am overwhelmed and happy. With essentially no real experience in the actual marketing business, I came to Tronvig Group with an open mind and was ready to learn. My mind is stuffed now and I have learned some surprising things.
Experiencing the working process at Tronvig Group and seeing how all the theories I learned in graduate school can be turned into practice for the benefit of real clients has been fascinating.
Honesty in marketing
The most unexpected aspect of Tronvig Group’s method though is the intense honesty of their consulting advice. I mean, we all know that when it comes to the marketing industry, honesty is not the first word that pops into our minds. So walking into Tronvig Group, sitting in on meetings, listening to client calls and observing the communication back and forth has been an eye-opener. Tronvig Group is a marketing company and yet it treasures honesty almost above all else.
The most unexpected aspect of Tronvig Group’s method is the intense honesty of their consulting advice.
Seeing this in action has shown me that this value is in fact a great asset. I see how it helps clients begin to move in the right direction, which in turn leads them to better results.
By not being fully honest, letting clients move in whatever direction they desire and doing what they ask along the way, clients end up spending a lot of money and continually coming up with new plans and more marketing activities. Even though this may not achieve their long-term goals, it acts like a drug—they keep coming back for more. This might allow a marketing company to get more projects and make more money but is it really what marketing companies should be doing? Here I have seen another way and I think it’s far better.
It involves a kind of radical honesty and it isn’t easy. I think clients seek out Tronvig Group though because of this, and in working together, Tronvig Group often exposes the underbelly of an organization; sometimes they are suffering and really need help. The clients are—to a certain extent—aware that they have a problem but they are usually not aware of how deep or complex the problem actually is, or how difficult and uncomfortable it will be to really fix.
I think clients seek out Tronvig Group for their unflinching honesty.
I have been impressed by the modesty with which Tronvig Group addresses their clients. They do not go in and tell the clients what to do or try to impose some pre-baked solution. Rather, Tronvig Group probes and explores, and once the situation is understood by everyone, they help the client develop their own solutions. This insistence on the solution coming directly from the client has the effect of making them more willing and able to actually do what it takes to make the changes and carry out the plan. It means that the work can have a lasting impact.
Values in action
I got to experience all this during the first week of my internship. After being here for only 5 days, I was chosen to accompany James on an assignment that required me to fly across the country to help with research and analysis of a client’s competitors and attend a board meeting and workshop. Talk about responsibility! The client was aware that they were suffering from an identity problem and in the first meeting I attended they were unable to accept the gravity of their situation. They wanted James to just give them the answer but he would not. He knew that in order for them to take a major step they would have to make the decision to do it on their own. The solution would have to come from them.
The decisions they were then able to make were bold and inspiring.
It was only when James went back the second time and showed them the results of all our research that they finally realized their true situation. It forced them to act and the decisions they were then able to make were bold and inspiring. It was interesting to see how James explained to the board the magnitude of the problem, sensed that they weren’t fully taking it in and then pushed through until it became clear to them. I saw resolve build in them and transition into ownership of the huge decision they had made. He guided, cajoled and encouraged them until they came to the solution on their own. It would never have worked if he had just laid out their problems and expected them to act, or worse, if he had just told them what he thought they should do.
After a breakthrough in the second session, the CEO said to James, “I think my accomplishment for the year is that I hired the right consultant.”
These 8 weeks have shown me the reality of the core values that I read about on Tronvig Group’s website before I ever got on a plane to America, but now they have new meaning. Now they aren’t just words on a page, they are a way of life here. I feel them every day with every client.
The best part of this internship has to be the way I’ve been literally thrown into projects.
I’ve definitely learned a lot about the marketing industry and especially about how to really work with clients in an appropriate yet effective way, but maybe the best part of this internship has to be the way I’ve been literally thrown into projects. I know this is not for everyone but I really appreciate all the responsibility I’ve been given and I’m certain that I’ll be able to use these experiences in my emerging career as a marketer.
Photo by fellow intern Beatrice Gamborg