Recommendations on sound strategic principles

The key to a good case write-up is to ground your analyses and recommendations on sound strategic principles: take what you learned from your marketing classes and apply it to the analysis of the case (SWOT, Porter’s 5 Forces, Customer Lifetime Value, etc.). You MUST be able to justify your position by using key information provided in the case, not just simply recommend a position. In most organizations, top management has a very short attention span. It is critical for you to be able to make a succinct coherent argument for your ideas to get attention. You may use bullets sparingly to drive home specific points.

Your write-up is to be broken into three distinct parts (please provide headings for each part):

  1. Problem(s) / Environment / (What is the underlying problem (and what symptoms is it
    Analysis causing)? What information in the case is relevant to your
    analysis (e.g., trends, current marketing, performance, etc.)?
    Discuss analysis)
  2. Reasonable Alternatives (List approximately 2-3)
  3. Recommendation (Pick best alternative. Provide a supporting argument using information from the case as rationale (convince me that this is the best course of action); please discuss the benefits and consequences of such a strategy.)

Among the critical aspects that you will be assessed on are the quality and thoroughness of your review and recommendation and the clarity of your writing. Remember to use data, where necessary, to support your recommendations. “Pie in the sky” recommendations are not tolerated. When possible, be specific in your recommendation and make sure it addresses the problem that you identified. Clear and concise articulation of your thoughts is paramount.

Examples of both good and poor case write-ups appear on the pages that follow. Please note the structure/formatting used, proper grammar, and the general quality of the write-up. In the good example, statements are backed up with specific information from the case.

Example of a Great Case Write-Up
Squatty Potty Case

Problem and Environment
The Squatty Potty CEO and investors are looking to determine the success of their digital marketing campaign and how to move forward with these results. Based on their marketing KPIs and financial standing at the end of 2016, I would qualify the campaign as an overall success for the following reasons:
• For 2016, promotional costs per Squatty Potty purchase (on and Amazon combined) was $3.39
• The viral video generated 32 million organic views in its first month – and while organic views demonstrated the exponential drop-off typical of viral videos, it still averaged 3.6 million per month from Nov 2015 through the end of 2016
• had a monthly average of 368,641 unique visitors after the launch of the viral video*

However, the campaign faced one significant problem: focusing their targeting on mothers. The argument made by Squatty Potty that the “purchase of these [constipation-related] solutions was typically driven by women—specifically mothers—who accounted for 70–80 per cent of all household purchases” makes sense. Traditionally, women hold significant influence over purchase decisions and may be the one physically shopping for household items. Selecting mothers as their main target audience appeared to be the best strategy prior to the campaign’s launch, but several factors support a shift in target audience:
• Social: Constipation and bowel movements are topics most people have difficulty discussing or admitting to – and this may be heightened with women. It is possible that women feel less open to discussing private, “embarrassing” health matters compared to men. They may not have wanted to admit to liking the video or may have been less likely to share. The embarrassment or discomfort with the product may make them less likely to shop for it. If they are not comfortable shopping for this kind of product and they do the shopping for their household – the Squatty Potty might not get purchased even if a need exists.
• Facebook promotion results: When comparing the number of checkouts and the cost per Squatty Potty (CPA) of the various Facebook targets, many of the male groups outperformed their female counterparts. For example, the company invested an equal $17,260 in targeting each ‘Interest in Yoga, Male’ and ‘Interest in Yoga, Female’ groups – but the male group converted better with 40% (540) more checkouts and cost $3.75 less per conversion. Similar trends of lower CPAs were found when comparing male vs. female interest in veganism and fans of Howard Stern.
While mothers may still be an important audience for Squatty Potty, they are severely underestimating the opportunities that exist for a health-conscious male audience.

Reasonable Alternatives

  1. Test & refine the targeting of males on Facebook with paid advertisements. Determine what other interests besides yoga, veganism, chiropractic medicine etc. are relevant filters to apply to reach men that would be interested in the Squatty Potty.
  2. Reactivate Squatty Potty’s earned media campaign using influencers/channels more relevant to a male target audience.

I recommend alternative 2.) Reactivate Squatty Potty’s earned media campaign using influencers/channels more relevant to a male target audience. Offering the product for influencers to promote worked before the company’s widespread awareness and has the potential to be successful again. First, Squatty Potty would benefit from more in-depth research of what this male audience looks like. It would be helpful to develop a customer persona and narrow down the demographics, psychographics, and behaviors they are interested in. The more they understand this audience, the more specific and targeted campaigns they can run. Highly targeted campaigns create the effect that the product is “meant for them.” With new information on their male target audience, the way Squatty Potty approaches an earned media influencer campaign will change. Different channels may appeal to this new audience. The type of influencers they engage may change as well. They would need to determine what influencer qualities would relate to the target.

The earned media approach could be useful in combatting the stigma of talking about digestive issues. It allows for real people to connect with others who have the same problems. It can develop personal credibility for the product. Influencer campaigns are easily trackable through blogs, social media, or other websites. Additionally, the increased funds the company has compared to the first run of their earned media campaign would allow them to layer on incremental tactics. They may benefit from retargeting consumers who interacted with the influencers’ content with a digital display campaign.

*More information on web traffic throughout Squatty Potty’s history would help determine the marginal increases as different campaigns were introduced. They averaged 900 total visits per month prior to any major marketing campaigns. It would be important in the company’s full analysis to track traffic following their earned media/influencer campaign, feature on Dr. Oz, feature on Howard Stern, appearance on Shark Tank etc. to determine if the post-viral video campaign traffic increase is statistically significant.

Example of a Good Case Write-up:

The Upstart’s Assault Case

Problem and Environment:
Meridicom has to decide on how to react to TelZip’s offer of free broadband service to new business customers who were willing to leave their current provider and enter into a long-term contract with TelZip. Meridicom needs to proceed very carefully because TelZip’s bold move may be a “game changer” within the telecommunications industry.

There are 5 aspects of Meridicom that need to be understood and considered carefully before making a decision regarding the strategy that needs to be implemented to counter TelZip’s offer.
• Meridicom is separated in 3 independent divisions: Landline, mobile, and broadband. Each division operates independently. Meridicom customers receive a different bill per service, which can be confusing. Also, the fact that the 3 divisions operate independently does not contribute to minimizing Meridicom’s total operational costs.
• The landlines division represents 70% of the company’s revenues, and Meridicom has an 85% market share in the landlines market. This means that it is important that this division does not lose customers.
• Meridicom has a 60% market share in the broadband market, and the broadband division represents 25% of the company’s revenues. Offering broadband service for free would negatively affect Meridicom’s revenues and would make the broadband division operate at total loss.
• Meridicom’s major business customers complain about the company’s services being expensive.
• TelZip has a much larger mobile phone market share than Meridicom’s 5% market share.

Management at Meridicom needs to understand that whatever strategy they implement will have an important impact on the telecommunications market distribution.

Reasonable Alternatives:
• Quickly develop and implement a strategy to minimize the operational costs, and send individual bills to their business customers instead of one different bill per service. This would decrease the company’s costs and eliminate confusions that customers may have.
• Offer free broadband to their customers because TelZip’s move is a “game changer”. Customers will be expecting to get broadband service for free or change providers.
• Increase prices of the landlines service by 5%. This is the reason why: Offering free broadband would help Meridicom acquire a larger market share in the landlines market, which would increase their revenues and partially cover the losses resulting from offering broadband for free. The 5% price increase in the landlines service is relatively low, and it is very likely that it will not be noticed because it would happen at the same time as the free broadband.

Sample Solution