Asia School of Business

Edit Content

3 Things You Will Learn from MIT Sloan’s Marketing Management Course

Have you ever appreciated a product so much that you just keep talking about it to anyone, everywhere? And the company is not even paying you to do so. Unless you are hired as the product’s influencer, you are essentially doing word-of-mouth marketing for free. This exact experience happens to me when I talk about my iPad as it has improved my productivity as a working professional tremendously.

In fact, that sentence alone has got me promoting it to you right now – that is the power of marketing – when a brand and product can understand and fulfill your daily needs! During the Marketing Management course delivered by Prof Juanjuan Zhang, the John D. C. Little Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan as part of my MBA for Working Professionals (MBA-WP) program, I learned that marketing is relevant to anyone in the business world.

Whether you are a full-fledged entrepreneur or budding intrapreneur, working at a new startup or a global organization, marketing knowledge is relevant, whatever job scope or function you are in – and that’s why it’s imperative to understand how to manage it. Sitting there in class, peeling off the layers various case studies of renowned brands allowed me to understand what worked and what went wrong for some companies.

It also taught me to look beyond the industry I am in, and see that not every tactic would work the same way, depending on the business model, industry, and most importantly – who the customer is. Whether you are in consulting, banking or retail, the marketing framework can be applied to help you achieve your intended outcome. Here are 3 ways marketing management will be relevant to you as a working professional, despite your industry or job scope:

1. If you have stakeholders, you have customers.

In simple terms, marketing strategy allows us to understand what our customers want, what our competitors are doing and who is our target market that we need to attract. With data collected through research, we could then decide how to influence our customer’s decisions by formulating effective marketing tactics. For examples, one of the case studies we looked at in class was on BMW’s effective marketing strategy.

They managed to profile their customers so well that they could target them through the different tiers of vehicle offerings according to their customers’ perceived lifestyle and age range. Their marketing promotion through short, action-packed, and delightful films proved to be sensational and effectively made some customers switch to BMWs. With this kind of success in a pre-digital world, one can only imagine the sophistication of what we can do for our customers now, with more data available to profile customers!

This customer-centric approach does not only apply to you if you are in the Marketing department – regardless of your role at work, you are required to deliver results for your internal and external stakeholders. For example, before you can convince senior management (the ultimate decision maker) to invest in something, you will need to understand what their motivations are as your “customer” before you can deploy effective tactics to influence their decisions.

Often, the first driver of decision-making tends to be financial analysis, but being able to articulate a customer-focused strategy and understanding of where a company stands against competitors (both essential elements of marketing) can also influence decision-making at the top level.

2. Just as you have customers, you are also a customer.

The course also made me realize how crucial it is to become more informed as a consumer. Everything is a transaction, and as an employee of a company, you will at some point deal with vendors, contractors, and software subscriptions, and probably need to assess their products and pricing strategies.

They might come to you with convincing returns and benefits, but it does not hurt for you to conduct market research to see if there are alternatives available for a better price, whether the product really fulfills the needs of the company, and what other customers have to say about the product. Having this knowledge gives you the upper hand to negotiate a better deal for your company with the company’s best interests at heart.

3. The framework makes you a disciplined thinker.

The marketing framework is useful in a way that the process is iterative. Each step feeds into each other – you cannot start off with pricing a product before you know where your product is positioned against other competitors in the market.

You first must start with identifying your customers, competitors, and company, gathering the necessary data which will be turned into insights, and then implementing the strategies through competitive product pricing and effective promotions on the right channels and platforms.

Applying the marketing framework, trains you to become a disciplined thinker and equips you to constantly think about improving the process – whether for your customers, or as an organizational customer yourself.

I work in the transport industry, and attending this class has changed the way I view marketing at my company. Previously, I used to think that marketing is a once-off event. Now, I see the opportunity for ongoing marketing improvement in areas ranging from how we promote our various product offerings to how we reinvent our transport services.

In summary, marketing management provides us with the tools that are necessary to achieve the best results for the right target market. Working professionals have a lot to gain from applying this framework that is relevant to every aspect of the business world.

The opinions published are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views of the author’s employer.