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					                        Marketing 101

          Tackling the Marketing Case

Michelle Antonio, Columbia Career Coach
Loren Margolis, Associate Director, MBA Career Education and Advising

October 29, 2010


• Share the employer perspective on interviews

• Overview of what to expect in the case portion of the
  marketing interviews

• Review the most common types of Marketing
  cases & constructs for answering

• Highlight Key Resources/Next Steps to prepare for

 Employer Perspective

• Hiring is a time intensive process for employers and
  candidates. Mistakes are costly.
• Employers look to hire candidates who demonstrate:
      1. Passion for the function, industry & company
      2. Cultural Fit
      3. Skills, knowledge & initiative to succeed
        •   Leadership
        •   Teamwork
        •   Project management
        •   High-Level Communication Skills
        •   Strategic thinking                Assessed in
        •   Creativity/innovation             case interview
        •   Analytical thinking               performance
        •   Knowledge of marketing concepts

Interview Structure

• 1st round: 30-45 minutes
• Final round(s): Varies by company
• Format includes some or all of the following:
  – “Walk Me Through Your Resume” or “Tell Me About
    Yourself” (Pitch Questions)
  – Baseline questions:
    • Why Columbia?
    • Why marketing/brand management?
    • Why this industry?
    • Why this company?

  – Behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time…”)
  – Marketing cases
Why Ask Marketing Case Questions?

Great method for evaluating:
 • Knowledge of marketing concepts
 • Critical skills for the job
    − Strategic Thinking
    − Analytical Skills
    − Communication Skills
 • Ability to think on your feet

What do marketing firms expect from you?
 • Demonstration of strong understanding of, and ability
   to apply, key marketing concepts – not previous
 • Opportunity to understand how you think is more
   important than the “right” answer
How to handle Marketing Case questions

• Approach each question with a logical structure/
  marketing framework (3 Cs, 4 Ps, STP)

• Start strategic (broad), then get tactical (narrow)

• Apply the “other” 3 Cs (Clarity, Conciseness &
  1. Clarity – articulate your roadmap upfront and your
     rationale throughout so they can see how you think
  2. Conciseness – ask focused, relevant questions
  3. Confidence – make reasonable assumptions, draw
     conclusions, assert your opinions, deliver

Typical Marketing Case Types

• General Marketing Knowledge case

• New Product Launch case

• Business Case (declining sales, declining share,
  defending against a new competitor, etc.)

• Advertising Critique

• Creativity/Innovation case

General Marketing Knowledge Cases

Questions that assess your general marketing and
industry knowledge.. can easily turn in to another case:
• What are the main consumer trends that you see in the
  marketplace for Category X?…If you had to launch a
  product to capitalize on one of these trends, what would
  it be and why? How would you market it?

• What is your favorite advertising campaign today?..If you
  had to launch a counter ad campaign, what would it be
  and why?

Approaching General Marketing Knowledge Cases

 • Requires you to tap in to your knowledge of current
   trends, current events; so prepare by doing research,
   research, research!

 • Recognize that these cases can be similar to other
   ones – assessing a new product launch, advertising
   critique, so use frameworks where appropriate

 • Demonstrate your passion by asserting your opinion

New Product Launch cases

These cases test your ability to apply strategic and
tactical marketing concepts as it relates to a new
product launch
• Example: You are in charge of all new products at General
  Mills and are charged with assessing all new product ideas.
 One of the managers who works for you has decided that
 GM should enter the frozen yogurt market. She is very
 excited about the product potential and is considering
 leveraging one of two brands for the new product: Pillsbury
 or Yoplait. How would you go about evaluating this new
 product idea and which brand, if any, would you leverage
 and why?

Approaching New Product Launch cases

• Strategic (3 Cs, STP) and tactical (4 Ps) frameworks
  will be needed
• Always start with the consumer/customer – do
  consumers want/need this product?
• Assess the company opportunity & competition
 − Competitive threats/response
 − Cost/Ease of entry (capital investment, branding, distribution)
 − Size of the market – estimate your market share
• Determine Segment/Target/Positioning – what is your
  singular benefit that you intend to deliver to your
  target customers. How will your positioning be
  differentiated from competition?

Approaching New Product Launch cases (cont’d)

• Determine marketing execution (4 Ps)
 • Price – should reflect positioning and drive profit
 • Product – which attributes to offer
 • Promotion – how will you create awareness and trial for
 • Placement – where will consumer buy it?

Business Case Questions

Can range from mini consulting case questions to real-
world business scenarios
• Mini consulting case examples
  − How many blue cars are there in the US?
  − If everyone in China held hands how many times
        would they circle the earth?
  − At any one point in time, how many gallons of ice
        cream are being sold around the world?
• Real world business scenarios
  − Declining Sales
  − Declining Share
  − Defending against new competitor

Approaching Business Case Questions –
Declining Sales/Share

Start broad/strategic:
  • Is decline driven by general category decline or
    share decline in my brand only?
  • Why is category/share declining? Answer will drive
    decision to reverse decline or exit category
      − Substitutes vs. change in consumer habits
      − Change in own product vs. competitor product

Approaching Business Case Questions –
Declining Sales/Share (cont’d)

Once root causes are identified, determine strategy and
tactics to address:
  • If category is declining, develop strategy to increase
    category usage or exit
  • If share is declining, determine why (explore 4 Ps)
    and develop appropriate strategic response
     • Price: has my price changed relative to competition?
     • Product: has the quality of my product changed or has
       competition upgraded/launched new products?
     • Promotion – have promotions changed?
     • Placement – have I lost distribution relative to competition?

Approaching Business Case Questions –
Defending Against New Competitor
• Assess the threat to determine whether or not you
  need to defend
 − Does the new product meet an untapped consumer need?
 − How strong is the competitor? Will they spend to support the
   launch? Do they have track record of being smart marketers?
 − Where will they take volume from? Are they targeting you or
   your competitors?

• If you need to defend, strategies to consider:
 − Reinforce brand/product equity with advertising – remind
   consumers why your product is superior to discourage them
   from trying new product
 − Upgrade your product to provide new benefit

Approaching Business Case Questions –
Defending Against New Competitor (cont’d)

• If you need to defend, strategies to consider (cont’d):
 − Load consumers with your product so they will be stocked
   during competitor launch by using price incentives
 − If issue is private label entrant, determine how much of a price
   premium you can charge before your brand starts to lose
   volume; also, consider introducing a value brand

• Track new competitor’s performance after launch

Advertising Critique Case

These cases assess your ability to critically analyze the
effectiveness of a current or potential advertising
campaign, using a consumer and brand focused

• What is the most innovative advertising campaign you’ve
  seen in the last year and why?
• Give an example of an advertising campaign that you think
  was misguided or a failure and why?

Approaching the Advertising Critique Case

Assess the advertising on the following dimensions:
• Consumer
 − Who is the Ad targeting?
 − Will This Ad get the Target Consumer’s attention and be recalled?
 − Is it being seen/heard in the optimal print/media channels?
• Benefit
 − What is the Benefit being communicated in the Ad?
 − Is the Benefit being communicated clearly? Is it compelling?
• Brand
 − Does the Ad link the Brand to the Benefit?
 − Is the Brand portrayed positively?
• Impact
 − Would this Ad compel the Target Consumer to purchase the
 − Is the Ad “ownable” by the brand (i.e., could any other brand
   deliver this message)?

 Creativity/Innovation Case Questions

These questions are opportunities to:
• Demonstrate you can think creatively on your feet
• Convey your passion for marketing
• Prove you can link creativity to strategy… So, think
• Express your personality
• If you could be a snack food, which one would you be and why?
• What are 10 things you can do with an empty pint of Haagen-
  Dazs ice cream?
• What are 5 ways you can improve a cereal box?
Approach: While there are no stock frameworks for these
creativity questions, you can and should use structure and
frameworks to generate ideas

New Product Case Example in Action

You are charged with marketing in the U.S. a candy
bar that has been very successful in England.

• What things should you consider in bringing the
  product to the U.S.?

• After hearing the candidate’s response, what
  do you think worked well?
• What could have been improved in her response?

 Resources & Next Steps

 Career Management Center:
• Advisors, Columbia Coaches, Career Fellows for mock interviews
• CML: Job Juice Cards, Resume Books, Business Card Binders
• COIN: Industry Research>Marketing>Interview Qs, Interview Stream, First
• Your Mentor
• The MAC website, Company Events and presentations

• Mock Madness (12/3): Stay tuned for more details!
• Go shopping, research company websites, blogs, trade
  publications (AdAge, BrandWeek, AdCritic)
• Watch and analyze TV commercials (Super Bowl)
• Meet insiders (alumni, company reps, classmates)
 Closing Thoughts

There are 3 things you need to prove in the interview:
   • Translate your resume into marketing language
   • Know how your experience is relevant and sell your skills!

   • Know why you want to work for that company

   • Know why you want to work in marketing
   • Do your homework on the industry and company
   • Get excited and show it!

   Good luck and let us know
   how we can help!


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