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MARKETING PROBLEM-SOLVING
(widely applicable, but with a particular focus on cracking cases)

Abdelkrim Ajaji (from D. Holt, Oxford SBS)
October 2012

You’re a consultant. Or a mid-level line manager. You’re tasked with devising the best marketing strategy to achieve an ambitious marketplace goal. You’ve got a problem to solve to get there, a complex marketing problem that is buried somewhere in the intersection between the company’s current marketing strategy and the marketplace. It isn’t at all clear because there are so many factors in play and so much data. What to do?

The following is not the only effective pathway to solve marketing problems, but it is one proven and robust approach. And it is the approach we are learning in class discussions. So it’s a good place to start.

Step 1: Paint a Provisional Holistic Picture
A. Problem Recognition
Marketing is about devising nuanced custom solutions to particular kinds of problems. So, early on, you need to make a first approximate guess as to what kind of problem you are working with, which you will revise and refine as you get into the analysis. Read through the entire case rather quickly, without spending much time digesting all of the exhibits. Ask yourself:

“What kind of problem is this?”
“Where have I seen issues like this before?”
“What elements of marketing strategy are at stake?”

B. Benchmark Marketing Strategy.
Write down the current marketing goals and marketing strategy, considering all of the elements of marketing strategy that are relevant to the case (and ignoring for now elements that are not). How does the company currently segment and target customers? What are its marketing mix policies? This will likely need improving. Set aside for now.

Your main goal here is to begin to get a first vague handle on the key issue(s) that you will focus on resolving in your strategy recommendation—a first stake in the ground. The issue will be vague and...
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