A company is unlikely to gain satisfied and loyal customers when they feel they've been duped. Companies that employ stealth marketing — otherwise known as undercover or guerilla marketing — hire shills to pitch products or services to potential but unsuspecting consumers. It may seem a clever idea on its surface, but research shows stealth marketing can be a risky tactic. Several W. P. Carey School of Business professors recently shared their opinions of stealth marketing, citing examples of campaigns that backfired, alienating rather than attracting potential customers.

Imagine a software strategy that allows an organization to combine the disparate data threads it collects about customers, then, using the Web and other technologies as well as non-technical methods, put the data to work to develop closer ties with customers. This is CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. With CRM, sports teams can cater specifically and efficiently to fans' needs and whims, react to trends, reward loyalty, fix problems, and retain its current clientele and attract more. A panel of sports executives discussed the state of CRM in their industry at the annual meeting of the Sport Marketing Association recently at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

For major marketers, competing and winning in the sports arena means more than simply affiliating a product with the team that posts the most points or the athlete who stands out in the draft picks. Marketers like Coca-Cola have learned that when it comes to navigating the tide of sports, they can no longer assume that their brand and product will be a standout player. It's all about appealing to sports fans as consumers, and adapting to their changing demands. John Cordova, director of sports transaction management at Coca-Cola, knows that scoring points and continuing to hold a lead among soft-drink consumers at sports venues requires an evolving marketing playbook.

Seventy percent of American consumers report having a bad customer-service experience that left them "upset" or "extremely upset" in the last 12 months, according to a new national survey. And that should ring alarm bells for service providers across the nation, because it's estimated that the angriest consumers negatively influence about 18 others. Contrary to most companies' assumptions, it's not a refund that most customers are after. "Most people want simple or non-monetary remedies to resolve their problems and complaints, which overturns one of the universal truths companies use to guide their policy-making," notes one researcher.

Businesses rely on research to gather data and process it into the knowledge needed to identify markets and satisfy customers. When exploring questions about attitudes, beliefs and other intangibles, researchers use Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to analyze data. A W. P. Carey School of Business marketing professor and her co-authors have discovered that a significant percentage of academic researchers used the wrong measurement approach in their studies, resulting in deceptive conclusions. If the researchers performing studies for businesses follow the pattern, companies may be making critical business decisions based on misleading research findings.