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Seven Strategies for Increasing the Rigor and Relevance of Marketing*
(Marketing Memo December 2010)

"The discipline of marketing hasn't kept up with the rapid changes facing 21st-century businesses," declares Yoram Wind, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School. He adds that academic marketing sometimes lack relevance, and marketing practice sometimes lacks rigor.

Marketing has evolved from a "product orientation" to a "market orientation" and now to a "consumer orientation" that allows consumers to choose between standardized products and products they have "co-created" with businesses. Professor Wind has outlined seven strategies that address these changes and also make marketing more rigorous and relevant. Wind focuses on consumers, but the strategies apply to B2B customers, as well:

"Bridge disciplinary silos." Marketing academics should talk to marketing practitioners; companies should talk to customers; and different functional departments should talk to each other. Finance has data that would be helpful to marketing. In addition, sales and marketing should work in tandem, not in opposition.

Consider outsourcing some aspects of marketing. Companies must focus on both "competencies they own" and those they "connect to" through broad networks. Procter & Gamble has found that some aspects of marketing can be done externally, including new product development, according to Wind.

Provide tools that let customers co-create the right solution. Provide decision tools to customers who prefer to make their own purchase decisions. Many high tech and industrial companies provide calculators on their web sites that allow customers to configure and price purchases to meet their unique needs.

Partner to develop "customer-branded solutions" that meet special needs. Companies should partner to co-develop and co-market solutions that better meet the needs of customers. For example, Amazon.com now offers a Kindle for Android that lets customers read books on smart phones, as well as Kindles.

"Use analytics and metrics as the glue" that makes marketing more rigorous. Focus on data that is useful, not just easy to obtain. Wind says people focus on data that is readily available even when it is not particularly useful. He explains that market share is easier to calculate than "share of wallet," a more meaningful metric.

Integrate research and action ("adaptive experimentation"). Conduct several experiments to test assumptions. A single test of the effectiveness of a $100 million product launch budget is less effective than multiple tests in different markets of budgets of different sizes.

"Challenge (and change) your mental models." Wind provides several examples: The Oakland Athletics scoured statistics in new ways to identify younger, cheaper ballplayers with winning potential. Johnson & Johnson introduced Velcade, a new therapy for multiple myeloma and arranged with the UK's National Health Service to refund payment in cases where the treatment was unsuccessful. Wind concludes, "When the world changes, we need to change our mental models" or be trapped by the past. This is probably the most important of Wind's seven strategies!

*Yoram (Jerry) Wind, "A Plan to Invent the Marketing We Need Today," MIT Sloan Management Review, July 1, 2008,

Copyright 2011 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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