Dr. Eric Shaw
I. COURSE DESCRIPTION
Marketing strategy involves making critical decisions to solve strategic and tactical marketing problems. Critical decisions are those that are important and involve risk. These crucial decisions require a process that includes developing, critically evaluating, and choosing among alternative courses of action to solve a problem or achieve a goal.
Almost all of the critical decisions made by marketing managers involve aspects of marketing planning and strategy. Marketing planning involves: (1) establishing objectives, given prevailing environmental conditions and available organizational resources, and (2) developing a marketing strategy to achieve the objectives. Marketing strategy includes: (a) targeting customers and (b) creating a marketing mix. The most important customer decision is choosing who to target. A marketing mix involves multiple interrelated decisions about an organization’s market offering, including selecting an effective combination of products and services, pricing policies, promotion and advertising, distribution outlets and locations. A successful marketing mix finds, attracts and retains customers and is profitable for the firm.
This course is web-assisted using the computer platform “Blackboard.” You must have an available computer and access to the Internet to survive, let along thrive, in this course. A few classes may be completely online.
II. COURSE OBJECTIVES
III. COURSE STRATEGY
To achieve the objectives and facilitate teaching and learning the course employs: (A) the Socratic Method, (B) dynamic case analysis using a marketing simulation, (C) critical decision-making, (D) writing and presenting a strategic marketing plan, (E) teamwork and (F) class participation.
A. Socratic Method
Initially we will spend a few weeks discussing the general framework of the course as well as some important marketing concepts and analytical techniques. Rather than straight lectures, we will use the Socratic Method. You ask questions and I suggest answers or I ask questions and you suggest answers; and through the process of questioning and answering we work toward solutions. I could just lecture to you, but the “Law of Fast Forgetting” and my educational experience argues that you will not retain much of the material very long after the exam. On the other hand, by taking advantage of the “Law of Slow Learning” and following the pattern of answering questions and questioning answers inherent in the Socratic Method you will learn to teach yourself. So even if you forget an answer you will be capable of working out the solution on your own.
B. Dynamic Case Analysis using a Marketing Simulation
Following its early introduction at the Harvard Business School, marketing strategy (previously named marketing policy) courses have historically used case analysis to improve decision making skills. The case method in business, just as it is used in legal or medical training, involves situation diagnosis and prescription.
A case presents you with a problem-solving situation faced by an organization. Based upon the information presented in the case, your task is to work the problem(s) and arrive at a solution. These situations emphasize various aspects of marketing strategy and tactics, such as identifying promising customer targets, developing appealing products and services, charging acceptable prices, creating effective advertising and promotions, finding desirable distribution outlets and selecting convenient locations.
We will go beyond single static decisions inherent in a typical case analysis and make multiple dynamic decisions by using a simulated marketing game as the context for case analyses. The marketing simulation provides a dynamic competitive environment that replicates many significant aspects of the "real world" of survival and growth in a business setting. You will confront the same challenges as if you assumed the position of a marketing manager in a large corporation or if you started-up and operated your own firm.
In the marketing simulation you will make strategic and tactical business decisions. Your customer target and marketing mix decisions along with those of your competitors’ are inputs to a “demand generator” which simulates customer demand. The demand generator aggregates each customer segment’s demand based upon the effectiveness of each firm’s marketing mix. Adding each segment’s demand into aggregate market demand produces the outputs: the industry market potential, and each firm’s market share, sales, profits, etc. Based on these outputs, and your anticipation of future customer trends, competitive reactions, etc., you input a new set of decisions, which in turn are transformed, via customer demand, into a new set of outputs; and the process continues until we have simulated about ten to twelve years of marketing decisions.
C. Critical Decision-Making
Some decisions people make are critical in the sense that they have a significant impact on an organization (or themselves) and involve substantial risk. Nevertheless, despite its importance, few people learn a method for making decisions beyond the usual trial and error method, which tends to produce hasty and thoughtless decisions based on habit, emotion, or hunch. We will employ a more deliberate and systematic procedure to significantly improve your decision-making capabilities. You will also learn to bring far more brain power to bear on problem-solving by employing the seldom used visual cortex to process information. Using a diagrammatic decision-making format, you will learn to: assess the general business situation (SWOT), (1) identify problem symptoms, (2) formally define the central problem, (3) determine evaluative criteria or goals, (4) develop alternative solutions to the central problem, (5) evaluate alternatives against the criteria, (6) choose the most effective alternative, and (7) deal with post-decision issues, such as tying-up secondary concerns and loose ends, as well as handling implementation issues.
D. Strategic Marketing Plan
Each group will prepare a professional quality strategic marketing plan by applying (but not blindly following) the format presented in the Marketing to Win booklet, available on Blackboard.
Using the Markstrat Online simulation as the context for your case analysis, you will evaluate the general business situation in detail, including organizational strengths and weaknesses, environmental opportunities and threats, industry trends, and direct and indirect competition. Based upon your situation analysis, you will establish organizational objectives by developing a mission and forecasting performance goals. Based upon your objectives, you will create an overall marketing strategy. Based upon your strategy, you will segment and target potential customers. Based upon your customer targets, you will choose an appropriate and integrated marketing mix, including: products and services, pricing, promotion and advertising, distribution and location, and other elements of the marketing program.
As in business, case analysis involves working with others—teamwork—to achieve your goals and those of the group. You will work in teams of about 5 or 6 members. After the first few weeks of lectures/discussions, each week one or more teams will give a professional oral presentation to the class, and the non-presenting students will constitute a critical audience who will challenge assumptions and question opinions.
As a member of your team, you are expected to attend group meetings and participate by providing logical arguments to support your opinions in team decision-making. You are also expected to fairly and objectively evaluate the individual contribution of each member of your group to the overall team effort.
As a student, you are expected to attend every class, arrive on time, fully prepared to address the issues, and take the role of an active participant in the day’s discussion. You are also expected to play by the rules and regulations of the university, as set forth in the FAU Student Code of Conduct:
IV. COURSE MATERIALS
A. Larreche & Gatignon, MarkStrat Online, current online version.
V. EVALUATION OF PERFORMANCE
Final grades will be determined by my evaluation of your performance in achieving the course objectives, as reflected in the following weighted criteria:
The grading scale is shown below. It represents the minimum score for a particular grade and in some unusual circumstances may be curved upward—but do not count on it.
A = 90.0—91.9 A = 92.0—100
To benefit fully from the course you should assume the role of an active participant. Think and act professionally. Make sure to adequately prepare yourself to ask questions, question answers, and address the issues for class discussion. This, of course, includes regular classroom attendance.
Excessive absences (more than three), and consequent lack of participation, will result in a 10 point per absence reduction from your final grade. Regular attendance, raising important issues and asking relevant questions will improve your grade.
Feel free to question any aspect of your grade or your performance during the semester. You will receive an evaluation of your performance, on each of the above criteria, bi-weekly to chart your progress. You will also have an opportunity to evaluate this course and my performance at the end of the term.
VI. TENTATIVE SCHEDULE
Date DISCUSSION TOPIC ASSIGNMENT
08-23 Introduction, Course Overview Glance at Marketing to Win
09-06 Markstrat Quiz & Overview Reread MS 2-6, MS Decision 1
09-20 Marketing Response Model Work on MS Decisions, Prep. Pres.
10-18 Marketing Mix Work on MS Decisions, Prep. Pres.
11-01 Decision-Making III Work on MS Decisions, Prep. Pres
11-15 team Strat. Mar. Plan Pres. Prepare Presentation
11-29 team Strat. Mar. Plan Pres.
12-06 Final Exam 1:15pm—3:45pm
Additional material available on Blackboard:
Send comments to Dr. Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated July 2014