You’re a consultant. Or a mid-level line manager. You’re tasked with devising the best marketing strategy to achieve an ambitious marketplace goal. You’ve got a problem to solve to get there, a complex marketing problem that is buried somewhere in the intersection between the company’s current marketing strategy and the marketplace. It isn’t at all clear because there are so many factors in play and so much data. What to do? The following is not the only effective pathway to solve marketing problems, but it is one proven and robust approach. And it is the approach we are learning in class discussions.
So it’s a good place to start. Step 1: Paint a Provisional Holistic Picture A. Problem Recognition Marketing is about devising nuanced custom solutions to particular kinds of problems. So, early on, you need to make a first approximate guess as to what kind of problem you are working with, which you will revise and refine as you get into the analysis. Read through the entire case rather quickly, without spending much time digesting all of the exhibits. Ask yourself: “What kind of problem is this? ” “Where have I seen issues like this before? ” “What elements of marketing strategy are at stake? ” B.
Benchmark Marketing Strategy. Write down the current marketing goals and marketing strategy, considering all of the elements of marketing strategy that are relevant to the case (and ignoring for now elements that are not). How does the company currently segment and target customers? What are its marketing mix policies? This will likely need improving. Set aside for now. Your main goal here is to begin to get a first vague handle on the key issue(s) that you will focus on resolving in your strategy recommendation—a first stake in the ground. The issue will be vague and muddy, and perhaps wrong at this stage.
But you need to start somewhere. The issue should become much more clear as you proceed through the analysis in Step 2. Step 2: Conduct Customer Analysis Marketing is a customer-centric strategy-making enterprise. We place customer analysis on the front stage and dig deep. We then bring in other factors (competitors, company competencies, etc. ), but only with respect to our findings on customer value and customer DMP. Now it is time to dig into the case details, paying close attention to all case facts and data. Some of this will prove to be irrelevant, but some will be crucial for your analysis.
Each analysis will differ depending upon what kind of marketing issue is at stake and what information you have available. Since we are working on developing your ability to apply marketing logic, customer analysis involves two types of analysis: a) working with the facts and data in the case to make both quantitative and qualitative inferences, and b) developing more speculative inferences by making empathetic leaps into the life worlds of the different kinds of customers involved in the case (i. e. , developing hypotheses that, in the real world, would serve as the starting point for empirical market research).
In your analysis, draw upon the concepts developed in class to assist your analysis. We have learned how to conduct detailed investigations of perceived value across multiple dimensions, and DMP across multiple stages. a. Generic category analysis. Consider the dimensions of value and DMP that may be relevant for the particular type of product or service you are marketing in the particular context. This is useful to open up your mind to consider customers beyond what is presented as facts and data in the case. b. What kinds of customers are in play?
If relevant, draw a channel map to identify upstream customers as well as end-consumers. c. Analyze the different consumer types described in the case. Consider carefully other ways that consumers can be clustered according to perceived value and DMP. d. Analyze the upstream customers in the channels. e. Consider your customer analysis above (a-d) with respect to our current marketplace goals and marketing strategy (from Step 1). What insights emerge? You are pushing to nail down the key issue, as well as derive some clues on the changes in marketing strategy required. f.
Consider your customer analysis above with respect to competitive offerings (and, in some cases, potential future offerings, or capabilities to develop such offerings). What insights emerge? Again, you are pushing to nail down the key issue, as well as derive some clues on the changes in marketing strategy required. Step 3: Specify Key Issue. Compare your analysis in Step 2 to the benchmark strategy you wrote down in Step 1. What is the most significant customer problem that the current strategy is not resolving? Specify the key issue in as much detail and with as much specificity as you can manage.
The more carefully you specify the key issue, the more straightforward and compelling will be your strategic solution. Support your choice: state why this issue is the most important, compared to others that you have considered. If you think there are two problems that are equally significant, you can extend your specification to two issues. Do not consider more than two issues. Strategy requires focus, eliminating minor issues so that the organization can align around solving the big problems. Step 4: Devise Marketing Strategy Recommendation Now, after all this work, the rest is easy and fun.
You are finally in a great position to develop a compelling marketing strategy recommendation. Your recommendation should focus with laser-like precision on using the marketing strategy toolkit selectively to solve the key issue(s) that you have specified. Ask: what changes in marketing strategy (from Step 1) do I need to institute in order to resolve the key issue (Step 3)? For each element of the strategy “in play,” draw upon the concepts and frameworks that you’ve learned through your readings and in class to develop a sophisticated and effective recommendation.
So far, we have covered segmentation, promotions, pricing, and channels (your reading this week). So you should draw upon these ideas when they are useful to help you build your strategy. As with the key issue statement, if there are reasonable alternatives, you should argue why the strategy you support is preferred. Step 5: Devise Action Plan The strategy is “conceptual”: you are recommending the general direction for each marketing strategy element, each of which could guide numerous actions all of which would be “on strategy. In the last step of the recommendation, you recommend specific actions that you wish the company to execute. These actions can be very analytic or very creative, but they must be “on strategy”—flowing directly from your statement of strategy. Here you need to think carefully about costs, ability to implement, and the impact on the company beyond just the marketing problem under consideration (e. g. , will your sales force requirements undermine sales for other lines that they sell? )