Syllabus

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Nature and Purpose of the Course

In this course we seek to:

  • Introduce you to key marketing ideas and phenomena, especially the core theme of delivering benefits to customers.
  • Develop your skills in marketing analysis and planning.
  • Familiarize you with the tactics of the marketing (Product strategy, advertising and communications [Promotion], and distribution [Place], and Price - 4P's) and enhance your problem solving and decision making abilities in these areas.
  • Provide you with a forum (both written and oral) for presenting and defending your own recommendations and critically examining and discussing those of others.

We explore theory and practice that draws on Customer needs, Company skills, Competition, Collaborators, and Context in marketing and product development (5C's). We use cases, discussions, and readings to provide a mix of integrating concepts and hands-on problem solving. We encourage a variety of perspectives on marketing issues.

Many ideas of marketing transcend the specific application. For example, ideas of customer input, matching the channel of distribution to the product, matching the technology to the market segment, and understanding company and collaborator strengths relative to competition apply to financial services, consumer products, software, automobiles, airline services, not-for-profit eye clinics, and even Swatches. They apply to both bricks and mortar companies and to eCommerce companies. We draw material from a variety of sources including services, consumer products, industrial products, and from a variety of settings. This final step of transferring the ideas from the cases to your own situation is critical to making these ideas work for you.

The course is designed to be an introduction to the theory and application of marketing. It is coordinated with the MBA Core Curriculum (and some spring electives) and limited to students in the MIT Sloan MBA program.

Course Materials

The course draws upon a readings packet containing cases, required readings, and background readings. There is no required textbook for this subject. For a basic textbook on marketing, including marketing terms, examples, and a general taxonomy of issues, I recommend: Amazon logo Kotler, Philip. Marketing Management. 11th ed. London, UK: Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN: 0130122173.

Evaluation of Work - Approximate Weightings


ACTIVITIES APPROXIMATE PERCENTAGES
Class Participation 40%
Group Case Reports 30%
Exercise on the Practice of Marketing 20%
Individual Final Essay 10%

Organization of Course

The course is organized so that each class is either a theory discussion or a case discussion. Theory sessions and case sessions alternate with roughly the order: theory, case, case. The theory discussions introduce material relevant to the cases they precede, however, each case can draw on material from all preceding theory discussions. Copies of the slides for the theory discussions are available in PowerPoint format in the lecture notes section. You should plan to review these slides before coming to class.

The theory-discussion slides are the basis for class discussion, but we expand on this material in class. If you miss a class make sure you get annotations from a colleague. In the spirit of continuous improvement, the slides will be changed as the course progresses. If I make dramatic changes to the notes less than two days prior to the class, I will send an e-mail to the class to alert you.

The cases expand upon the material in the theory discussions and, sometimes, introduce new material. You should come to class prepared to discuss the cases critically. You are encouraged to discuss these cases among yourselves, especially within your team, prior to class. There is rarely a "right" answer to any case - the course of action often depends upon assumptions not present in the case facts. However, the process by which you arrive at a recommendation and principles you draw upon are extremely important.

Forming Teams

To get the most out of 15.810, you should form teams to prepare for the cases, both written and oral. The target size is three people. Four is viable but more than four or less than three is strongly discouraged.

The basic ideas of marketing transcend national borders and it is essential to be able to analyze and adapt to new environments. To explore these issues and to learn from your fellow classmates, I encourage you to form multinational teams. You will be better able to understand the issues in these cases if your team is drawn from a variety of regions with a variety of experience.

Please submit to your TA a roster of your team members. Please designate a contact person and provide a telephone number for that person. If you are a free agent or a team of only two members, submit your name or roster anyway. We will perform a random matching and distribute a class list on the first day of class. For teams formed this way, please designate a contact person and let us know his/her name and telephone number as soon as possible.

I encourage you to name your team to give it some personality. This is, in a way, your first exercise in branding. For example, last year teams had names such as the Crouching Tiger, the Focus Group, and the Prophet Margins.

Cases Generally

The cases facilitate the discussion of marketing problems in real situations. You should read these cases carefully and come to class prepared to provide constructive input as the class works together to address the issues of the case. The situations in the cases are complex. It is rare that the entire class will come to a consensus because the appropriate response often depends upon which assumptions are accepted. Real learning takes place when you see how others address a problem about which you have thought carefully. The better you are prepared, the more you learn.

The best way to prepare is to attempt to answer the discussion questions. These questions provide an outline of how we might proceed in class. If you can answer each question well, you will understand the basic issues of the case.

Required Readings

The materials listed as required readings in the syllabus are provided in the course packet. You should be ready to discuss the major ideas they contain.

Background Reading

I have also included a background readings in the syllabus. This reading provides additional insight for those students who desire more information about the topic. In particular, the Bower and Christensen reading in 15.900 provides background for the AIBO case with a technology-strategy perspective on this marketing case. Most of the discussion of the case will be focused on marketing, but many students may wish to explore how this material relates to cases covered in 15.900.

Class Discussion

The benefit that you derive from the course depends upon the extent to which you expose your own viewpoints and conclusions to the critical judgment of the class. You should view class participation both as an opportunity to ask questions to enhance your understanding as well as an opportunity to suggest examples that demonstrate your understanding of the material. Comments and questions should be relevant to the material being discussed. Please try to avoid lengthy discourses on extraneous material.

It is imperative that you read all of the cases and come to class with a series of comments that you think will be interesting to the class. If you must miss a class, warn me or the TA at least one day prior to class. Remember that you can only get credit for class participation if you are actually in the class. In addition, your colleagues are counting on your insight and it is not fair to them if you miss many class sessions. Everyone learns from your comments. Please remember to bring your name cards to class. This is your second exercise in branding - you want me, TAs, and colleagues to associate your insights with you, the brand.

Ethics

An important concern in any discipline is the ethics of its practitioners. This is certainly true in marketing and advertising. Ethical issues will arise in the case discussions. Indeed, some managers in the cases act in ways you might not consider ethical. These actions are left in the case specifically to raise ethical issues. We encourage you to address these issues in class discussion.

We subscribe to the Sloan professional standards. Please arrive on time for class with uninterrupted attendance for the duration of the class. I will endeavor to end class on time. Furthermore, please maintain a professional atmosphere. This includes, but is not limited to, using respectful comments and humor, employing appropriate manners and decorum, utilizing computers and technology suitably (e.g., silencing wireless devices, no web-browsing or emailing), and refraining from distracting or disrespectful activities (e.g., avoiding side conversations and games).

It is expected that in order for a student to sign his/her name to a team assignment the student will have done a substantial amount of work on that specific assignment. It is not, for example, acceptable to rotate the work across assignments so that on any given assignment the student signing has not done a substantial amount of work. Violation of this guideline hurts you, your team, and your colleagues.