This past 2013 fall semester, that is from October 14 to December 30, I attended a free online marketing course taught by faculty at The Wharton School. The course was one of four MOOCs (massive open online courses) by Wharton offered on the Coursera platform for the semester.
To be clear, this course is part of the “foundation series” described in the Bloomberg Businessweek article from early fall 2013. The course was divided into three modules–Branding, Customer Centricity, and Go-to-Market Strategies. This is a review of the course with my final thoughts at the end.
- Video lectures
- Assigned readings
- Optional readings
- Discussion forums
The Course Modules
The first module on branding is led by Barbara E. Kahn, who is quite engaging. You can really tell she is passionate about marketing and hopes you will be too. Barbara gives you the foundation and key strategies of marketing and branding.
The topics discussed include…
- Seller’s market and buyer’s market
- The 4Ps: price, product, price, promotion, place
- Strategic leadership through “performance superiority”, “operational excellence”, and “customer intimacy”
- Segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP)
- Consumer purchasing process
- Importance of brand elements (e.g. name, colors, taglines, packaging)
- …and much more.
Barbara’s delivery of the content and examples is very clear, and I enjoyed when she went off-campus to a grocery store to demonstrate the purchasing habits of consumers, instead of always speaking from a production studio. Barbara also has a book out called Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth.
Peter Fader teaches the second module, and he focuses on customer centricity. Peter defines customer centricity as “a strategy that aligns a company’s development/delivery of its products/services around the current and future needs of a select set of customers in order to maximize their long-term financial value to the firm”. In fact, he wrote a book on the subject titled Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage.
Peter details the differences between customer centricity and product centricity. He also describes how a few companies use customer tracking, or “customer intimacy”, to really understand who their consumers are, what they want, and which ones are most valuable to the companies. Peter also shows you the correct method of calculating customer lifetime value (CLV).
Having a background in data gathering and analysis, I completely agree with Peter on the value of leveraging the knowledge that can be gained from interpreting customer data.
In the third and final module, David Bell guides us through the go-to-market strategies, which comprises a multitude of topics, such as the ones listed below. During David’s sessions, he also examines the success of Quidsi, a family of retail sites that was purchased by Amazon.com in 2010 for $545 million.
- Online/offline competition
- The “Long Tail”
- Internet retailing
- Digital marketing
- Incorporating referral lifetime value (RLV) into customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Reputation and reviews
- Pricing, distribution strategies
- Horizontal and vertical conflict
- The 7Ms
- Rational and emotional appeals
- …and more.
David introduces you to additional ways to look at and implement existing theories, such as “the long tail”. He also brings you more into the digital market space with discussions of online retailers such as Quidsi.
Overall, the course was an enjoyable experience. The content was interesting and thought-provoking, and some of the lectures would serve as good refreshers for professionals with marketing experience. The format of the course was very easy to follow. Probably the best aspects of the course for me, though, were the instructors, their enthusiasm for their research topics, and the knowledge the professors imparted to the students.
Concerning course interaction, I must confess I did not participate much in the discussion forums. With tens of thousands of participants, I found it a bit difficult to navigate and create meaningful conversations with other students. I did notice, however, the teaching staff was responsive to inquiries and requests from the attendees.
I welcome your questions and comments below. Follow me on Twitter at @dhgoodall