Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Nature and Purpose of the Course

In this course you will learn:

  • Frameworks that enable you to address marketing strategies and tactics.
  • Marketing analytics to make data‐driven decisions.
  • Applications to practice and refine your skills.

You will learn to address issues such as:

  • Your firm launched a new shower product in Great Britain. It is based on breakthrough technology that solves a critical consumer need and is easy for plumbers to install, but it is not selling. Why and how do you fix it?
  • A competitor enters your core market with a potentially disruptive product and you must decide how (whether) to respond.
  • Your media budget is the lowest in the industry. You need creative solutions using web-based media. How do you allocate your budget?
  • You seek to enter a new market, but do not know the culture or the language. How do you get your product to consumers?
  • You have a great idea for a new product or service. Will customers want it?

Organization of Course

The course helps you learn marketing through four interrelated activities.

  • Frameworks. Frameworks structure marketing problems for fast resolution.
  • Cases. Cases provide practice using frameworks and analytics.
  • Short assignments (new this year). Assignments illustrate analysis methods.
  • Action learning exercise. Action learning applies frameworks and analysis.

Course Materials

The course draws upon a readings packet containing cases, required readings, and background readings. There is no required textbook for this subject. See the Readings Section.

Action Learning - Exercise on the Practice of Marketing

An action‐learning exercise on the practice of marketing is due on the last scheduled day of classes for 15.810. See detailed instructions in the Action Learning Assignment Page.

You may coordinate the topic with topics covered in co‐curricular activities such as the Enterprise Management pro‐seminar. However, for 15.810 you must satisfy the requirements of the 15.810 project—please do not hand in a report prepared for a co‐curricular activity. You should submit this assignment prior to the start of class on the due date. The file name should include your team name. For example, Angry_Nerds_Action_15810.pdf.

Forming Teams

Cases, both written and oral, are team assignments. The target team size is three people. Four is viable but more than four or less than three is strongly discouraged. I encourage you to form multinational teams drawn from a variety of regions with a variety of experiences.

Select a creative team name. This is your first exercise in branding. We’ll vote on the best name. 2014 winners: Brand Pitt, Mighty Morphin Marketing Mavens. 2013 winners: Angry Nerds, Brandaid. Mundane names such as the Three Marketeers or names based on team initials are too typical and do not stand out. You can do better.

Group Case Reports

Prior to class, you should discuss the case within your group. You benefit from defending your ideas and you learn by discussing many approaches. Each group must hand in two case write‐ups. No case is due in the last two weeks of 15.810 to allow you time to focus on the final project. For 15.810, you must choose one eligible case in H1 (first half of the semester) and one case in H2 (second half of the semester). The case reports should consist of approximately five pages of text and should address the discussion questions.

Participating in Class

You learn by doing. Class participation matters. Comments and questions relevant to the material and which build upon the discussion are rewarded. Lengthy discourses on extraneous material and repetition are not. Your classmates are counting on your insight.

The best way to prepare is to answer the discussion questions. The questions are an outline of the planned discussion (although we deviate as necessary). I encourage you to challenge me and other students, but politely. I may express an “opinion” just to encourage challenge, or we may follow a thread to understand a blind alley.

Students often ask how I grade class participation? Quality is important. Quantity is not. Building on a comment is rewarded; repetition is not. Some discussion is neutral and not graded. For example, I may call upon someone with experience in a country, culture, or company to talk about facts not in the case or to provide a current perspective.

There is only so much “air time.” If you raise your hand and I do not call on you, it might be that I am giving someone else a chance because you have already displayed high quality. Don’t worry, we note that your hand was raised.

Because quality is subjective we use two independent measures. The TA grades class participation in real time. Independently, I grade class participation after each class. (That’s why there is a seating chart—spatial memory is important.) Please remember to bring your name cards to class. This is an exercise in branding—you want me, the TA, and your colleagues to associate your insights with you, the brand.

Short Assignments

In Fall 2014, 15.810 students suggested that I add short assignments to illustrate some of the marketing‐analytics methods. As an experiment, I plan to include these. Because they are new this year, they are viewed as extra credit, however, they are required.

Synthesis Assignment

Each student may hand in an individual assignment that answers the question, “What are the three most important lessons that you learned about marketing in this course that will help you as a manager?”

You receive credit simply for handing in this assignment on or before the last scheduled class. Answers help determine final grades for students close to the letter cutoffs.

MIT Sloan Values

Ethics are important. This is certainly true in marketing and advertising. Ethical issues 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 MIT Sloan Professional Standards and MIT’s Standards of Integrity. 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, using 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). Portable computers are to remain closed during class. Tablet devices are not to be used during class even though course packets are available electronically. This policy is in place for all core classes and will be revisited as necessary.

If you sign your name to a team assignment, that implies that you 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, one team member does not participate. Violation of this guideline hurts you, your team, and your colleagues. When in doubt, please follow the guidelines in Integrity at MIT.

For cases which are not due as written cases, you may discuss the general issues with other students at MIT Sloan who are taking 15.810 in Fall 2015. You should not discuss cases with any students who may have studied them in a prior semester. For the two written cases you should discuss the cases only within your group. All group members should contribute to the case write‐up, which is expected to be original material. You learn by forming ideas and defending them to your peers. Do not consult any files from previous years on the cases.


Class participation, action learning, and written case assignments are given approximately equal weight. The short assignments are new this year and are considered extra credit; they can enhance your grade. They are graded √+, √, or √–. The synthesis assignment is graded only if you are on the borderline between A‐ and B+.

Class Participation 1/3
Action Learning 1/3
Written Case Assignments 1/3
Short Assignments Extra Credit
Synthesis Assignment -

Final Comments

Marketing is a fun topic. It is the eyes and ears of a firm. Marketing drives demand. Marketing identifies which products or services customers want and identifies how to design, communicate, and deliver those products. Marketing draws on psychology, sociology, economics, statistics, management science, and machine learning. Marketing requires both qualitative skills and quantitative skills. Marketing is a state of mind distributed throughout the enterprise as the interface with the customer. I hope you enjoy the course and benefit from its ideas.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2015
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments