An important element of this course is a strategy exercise filled with tactical details. Through computer simulation, you will be placed into an international business setting where you will run a marketing division for six quarters in compressed time (six rounds of decision-making).
The Marketplace simulation is a transformational experience. You will learn what it will be like to compete in the fast-paced, competitive market where customers are demanding, and the competition is working hard to take away your business.
In the Marketplace, you start up and run your own marketing division, struggling with marketing fundamentals and the interplay between product, price, place, promotion, budgets, and financial performance. You are given control of a simulated business and must manage its operations through several decision cycles. Repeatedly, you must analyze the situation, plan a marketing strategy to improve it, select the tactical options to implement that strategy and then execute the strategy and tactics out into the future. You face great uncertainty from the outside environment and from your own decisions. Incrementally, you learn to skillfully adjust your strategy as you discover the nature of your real-life decisions, including the available options, linkages to other parts of the business, conflicts, tradeoffs, and potential outcomes.
Here is a list of what Marketplace players do:
- Analyze market research data
- Design brands to appeal to different market segments
- Devise advertising campaigns, sales force plans, and price option
- Plan and roll out a marketing campaign
- Manage cash
- Compete head-to-head with other business teams
- Adjust strategy and tactics in response to financial performance, competitive tactics, and customer needs
The specific goal of the exercise is to develop your marketing management skills by giving you an integrated perspective of the entire marketing operation. In terms of specifics, the exercise can:
- Develop strategic planning and execution skills within a rapidly changing environment
- Crystallize the linkages between marketing decisions and financial performance
- Instill a bottom-line focus and the simultaneous need to deliver customer value
- Internalize how important it is to use market data and competitive signals to adjust the strategic plan and more tightly focus marketing tactics
- Promote better decision-making by helping individuals see how their decisions can affect the performance of marketing activities and the organization as a whole
- Facilitate learning of important marketing concepts, principles, and ways of thinking
- Build confidence through knowledge and experience
Organization of the Exercise
Each quarter or decision period has a dominant activity and a set of decisions that are linked to it. These dominant activities take you through the product and firm life cycle from introduction, to development, to growth, to near maturity. As you work through your firm’s life cycle, we will phase in the disciplinary material as it becomes relevant to the current decisions of the team.
Each quarter’s activities not only result in new material being introduced, but also build upon the prior content so that there is considerable repetition. We have found that marketing activities such as value creation in product design, pricing, distribution and sales force management, ad copy design, media planning, budgeting, profit analysis, and strategic planning and management are not easily absorbed. They require repetitive exercise in order to set them into the natural thinking of the students.
Marketplace – bikes
Software demos have been prepared to introduce you to the Marketplace software. Please go to the Introduction to Marketing – Bikes simulation demo (http://www.marketplace- simulation.com/introduction-to-marketing-bikes-demo) and review the demo.
A brief PowerPoint (or something similar) presentation on your team’s performance and marketing strategy over the course of the last 6 quarters is required at the end of the exercise.
Computation of Simulation Performance
A Balanced Scorecard will be used to measure your firm’s performance. The firm’s total marketing performance will be based upon its financial performance, marketing effectiveness, and market performance. A total score will be computed for each firm competing in Marketplace.
*Information sheet adapted from Ernest Cadotte with permission.
The Stockholder Report should include the following components:
- Review your financial, market, operational and HR performance during the second year
- Highlight the key features of the business plan which was presented to the venture capitalist
- Marketing Strategy
- Sales Channel
- Human Resource Strategy
- Manufacturing Strategy
- Financial Strategy
- Assess your business strategy and performance during the second year (This section can be done simultaneously with Section 2 )
- Compare actions taken against the business plan
- Discuss departures from the business plan and justification
- Review significant events that affected the company and/or market
- Review goals relative to performance for key performance indicators (include the promises made relative to demand, revenue, net income, ROI, )
- Explain why you were able to achieve or not achieve your goals — what were the causes of your better or weaker than expected performance? (candidness here is very important)
- Summarize how you have prepared your firm to compete in the
- What were the lessons learned?
- How did you benefit from participating in the simulation?
- Are there any lessons that you can take into the business world?