Sunday, October 01, 2006

Getting Attached to my Baby

It's not what you think.

The game: MarkStrat *

The Baby: SITH. Again, it's not what you think. SITH was the brand that I was the brand manager for (among other brands) and I named it, nurtured it, and am now watching it die. (sobs) MarkStrat brands follow some naming convention that restricted the first two letters for our firm's brands to SI, so I thought SITH would make a somewhat sinister dark horse brand to challenge some incumbents in another segment. (sorry... lotsa marketing speak there - ask me what it means sometime).

The game started off real fine: you are one firm, fighting five other firms in a marketing battle to the death. You decide what new products to introduce into the market, whether to break into the new innovative product space (read: Blue Ocean) or duke it out in the arena of endless despair (i.e. current product space a.k.a. Red Ocean). You also decide how much R&D (dirty word... dirty, dirty word) you want to do. You also have to decide how many salesmen to hire and fire and how much advertising you want to do. You think about what your stupid finicky customers want, what they think of your product, and whether you freaking care about it. All because you want to position your product at the right time, the right place, to meet their requirements (or they freaking don't buy those damn things!).

It is exhilarating when you're at the top of the game.

It is exasperating when you're not, and guess where my group went today.

Yup. Bottom of the food chain. From being top dog, we ended up being gutter guppies. What the heck happened???

The group kind of malfunctioned: no system to our plans, no system to our approach, no one process to rule them all. So, like the headless chickens of lore, we ran around spewing half-baked MBA marketing-speak by the bloody gushfuls, pretending like we're the best marketing strategists any firm out there can hire.

Well look where we are now folks. "How now, brown cow???" ARGH...


Ok, there is hope: the game is just half over and there're more rounds to play. Being the constructive nice person that I am (when I'm not being an explosive opinionated jerk), I'm going to work at actually fully understanding the tricks of the simulation. The trick about it all is that it IS just a simulation. The scary thing though is that it is quite close to being like the real world and that frightens me: the thought that the real world can seriously be modeled.

I guess the deal with MarkStrat is this: play it like it is a game, because that's what we do with real life anyhow. Treat it like a game and you won't be afraid to take risks. Play it like a pro and managing risks becomes part and parcel of your existence (ah... but the oh-so-clever finance gurus will say that you should make that decision only after using your risks to VALUE your options... but that's another story).

So lesson learnt: keep it real, keep it sane; it's just a simulation.

(and damned if I can't beat it)

* Here's the brief explanation: MarkStrat is a marketing simulation developed by 2 INSEAD professors using mathematical models based on a theoretical marketing foundation. It is used to learn strategic marketing concepts such as brand portfolio strategy or segmentation and position strategy, as well as operational marketing.
-- MarkStrat Online Student Handbook


Rebecca said...

Hey, I just have to give you big kudos on the Markstrat search engine ploy. That was great!

I am currently in period 5 of a Markstrat simulation, and my group is working on a pretty big comeback. Somehow through the first 3 periods we had missed the fact that there were ideal prices. Woops. =b

Anyway, I was trying to figure out if the numbers I entered into Perceptual Objectives were the actual targets or the number of points we wanted to move towards the targets. They totally don't specify this in the manual. When I started to google it, the Google search bar autofill came up with "markstrat secrets" as one of the top searches. I did my own search first, but then I decided to see what came up with the forbidden one (ha ha). I clicked on your link and had a really great laugh. So thanks for that! 'Just what I needed. =)