Millions in sales--with no salespeople

Evening UST MBA alumna Jenny Cai may have completed her studies at UST a decade ago, but she clearly remembers her marketing and finance lessons well.  She and her husband founded, a Burnsville-based company specializing in custom trade show displays.  With over $4 million in revenue last year and sales growth of 30% between 2009 and 2010, Cai's company is an outstanding example of the power of positive word-of-mouth marketing.

As Cai explained in a recent interview with the Star Tribune, she has no salespeople on her staff.  She relies on referrals from existing customers, who clearly are more than happy with the display materials that DoTradeShow creates for them.  The company's customer testimonials section on its website runs to 26 pages, and the organizations include universities, hotels, small entrepreneurial ventures, and even 3M Worldwide.

The Star Tribune article cites Dr. Dave Brennan, Professor of Marketing in the Opus College of Business and Co-Director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence, who commends Cai and her husband on their word-of-mouth marketing strategy and suggests additional ways to continue to build their company's brand.  Brennan emphasizes the importance of companies building interest in their offerings by showing examples of products created for other customers, and also by providing satisfied customers with brochures or information that they can pass on to interested friends and colleagues.

The focus on digital media during the past few years might lead people to believe that traditional marketing vehicles such as trade show displays are relics of the past, but Jenny Cai and have proven that a healthy market for high-quality tangible marketing products still exists.

Jenny Cai is one of many successful UST MBA students and alumni with roots in China.  The Fall 2010 issue of B. Magazine, the magazine of the Opus College of Business, profiled several of our Chinese students and took an in-depth look at the rising influence of China on the world economy.  UST may be located in the heartland of the United States--but our MBA programs are enriched by students from around the globe, and our international graduates have a growing positive impact on the local and global economies.