Marketing Strategy

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How to Launch Products in Uncertain Markets

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 9 min 

How should companies launch products in times of uncertainty? Should they “wait and see” until uncertainty resolves — or commit to a full-scale launch and ride it out? Conventional wisdom says being early to market is the right choice, but that is not always the case. Many companies can benefit from a mixed, “act and see” approach.

Selling Solutions Isn’t Enough

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

Rather than trying to sell standardized products or services to the biggest possible set of buyers, B2B companies need to develop ways to help specific customers achieve better outcomes. Instead of describing their solutions, companies first need to understand customers’ specific challenges, objectives, operating practices, and competitive environment, then create offerings to deliver value within a customer’s specific business context and culture.

Why Customer Experience Is Key for Loyalty Programs

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Loyalty programs provide great value for companies by driving higher sales and boosting brand affinity. However, companies employing traditional “earn-and-burn” rewards programs for customers may miss out on long-term benefits. Tailoring programs to offer great customer experience is key — and when companies implement both types of benefits into their programs, they’re more likely to beat out competitors and build brand loyalty.

Leading With Next-Generation Key Performance Indicators

MIT Sloan Management Review and Google’s new cross-industry survey about key performance indicators (KPIs) asked senior executives to explain how they and their organizations are using KPIs in the digital era. The results shed light on the challenges and emerging opportunities companies face when using KPIs, demonstrate the many ways advanced use of KPIs can benefit organizations, and offer steps executives can take to make the most of KPIs going forward.

Interactive: Customer-Focused KPIs Fuel the Future of Business

Research from MIT Sloan Management Review and Google shows executives increasingly rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to manage and lead their organizations. But what sets leading companies apart is not so much the number of metrics they track but how they use them to better engage customers — and thereby grow their businesses.

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The Right Way to Market to Millennials

Hiring a celebrity to promote a brand is a standard marketing tactic. However, companies trying to reach social-media-savvy millennials are turning to an alternative option: connecting with “micro-influencers” whose Instagram or YouTube followers see them as more authentic advocates for specific products.

The Store Is Dead — Long Live the Store

At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”

The Power of Consumer Stories in Digital Marketing

New research finds that stories about consumers’ positive experiences with a brand significantly increase users’ engagement with brand websites, and stories originating from consumers are especially powerful in shaping brand attitudes in social media. Indeed, companies that aren’t offering experiences that leverage consumer input in brand-related narratives are missing out on important opportunities to connect in a meaningful way with potential buyers.

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Which Features Increase Customer Retention?

Companies have an incentive to design goods and services with customer retention in mind. Unfortunately, they often add expensive features to their offerings without knowing whether or how much they will increase retention — and adding too many features can actually decrease customer satisfaction with products after customers have used them.

When Employees Don’t ‘Like’ Their Employers on Social Media

When employees are not fans or supporters of the company’s products on social media, it sends an ambiguous message and could deprive the company of potential supporters. Employers can counter this by encouraging their “digital native” employees to become brand ambassadors for the company.

Are You Using the Return on Investment Metric Correctly?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

The biggest challenge with ROI isn’t a technical deficiency but confusion over how it is used. “To calculate ROI accurately, you need to be able to estimate the fraction of profits attributable to the investment,” write Neil T. Bendle and Charan K. Bagga. “In order to calculate ROI, there must be a return (a profit associated with the investment) and an investment. Unless you have both, you cannot calculate ROI.”

How Should You Calculate Customer Lifetime Value?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

Should marketers subtract the cost of acquiring a customer before assessing that customer’s lifetime value (CLV)? Most of the time, no. “CLV is easier to understand, and in our view more useful, if marketers don’t subtract the acquisition cost from their calculation of CLV before reporting it,” write Neil T. Bendle and Charan K. Bagga. “Imagine that a company is selling an old machine. In this scenario, the company’s managers would expect to receive the machine’s current value, not the current value less what the company paid to buy the machine when new.”

Should You Use the Value of a “Like” as a Metric?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 3 min 

Social media strategy shouldn’t be seen as the driver of value difference between a company’s fans and nonfans. Fans are often more favorable toward a brand to start with than nonfans are — indeed, this is probably what motivated them to affiliate in the first place. As well, social media spending should not be justified by an observed difference in customer value that may not have been caused by social media spending. Instead, to understand social media marketing’s impact, companies should run randomized experiments.

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Should You Use Net Promoter Score as a Metric?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

The net promoter score (NPS) has become one of the most widely used marketing metrics. Consumers answer a simple question (How likely is it that you would recommend X?) on a scale from 0 to 10. Customers who answer 9 or 10 are considered promoters; those who answer 6 or less are rated as detractors. The score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. One of the strongest selling points of NPS is its simplicity. But the value of NPS may depend upon whether a manager sees it as a metric or as a system.

Should You Use Market Share as a Metric?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

Market share is a hugely popular metric. But is it really useful? Companies with superior products tend to have high market share and high profitability because product superiority causes both. This means that the two metrics are correlated — but it does not necessarily mean that increasing market share will increase profits. Using market share as a metric of success simply because other companies do can be counterproductive.

Why Great New Products Fail

Many innovative new products don’t succeed. One common reason: Companies don’t focus on understanding how customers make purchase decisions. But paying attention to how customers search for information about what to buy, and how they make guesses about details they can’t easily find, helps predict whether customers will embrace certain product innovations. Companies need to focus on innovations that customers will easily recognize or find ways to alert them to innovations they may not detect on their own.

The Metrics That Marketers Muddle

Well-defined metrics are critical to effective marketing. However, despite their widely acknowledged importance, five of the best-known marketing metrics — market share, net promoter score, the value of a “like,” customer lifetime value, and ROI — are regularly misunderstood and misused. This confusion undermines the marketing discipline’s reputation for delivering results. The authors present Do’s and Don’ts for using these metrics and flow charts with detailed advice for developing each metric.

How Transparency Changes Business

The Winter 2016 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review explores how increased transparency — and, in particular, the ready flow of information in a digital world — is changing the environment in which corporations operate. Transparency also is changing the distribution of power between large organizations and those who challenge them. Executives need to anticipate the possibility that any issues related to their company could someday be public knowledge.

Showing 1-20 of 101