Advice FAQs

Click on a link below to access that FAQ (frequently-asked question) topic.


Customer Purchase Process
Demand Drivers
Forecasting Hints/Tips
General Advice
General Advice at the Beginning of LINKS
Help With a LINKS Question
How Much Research Should We Order?
Marketing Decisions and Their Impacts
Most Important Part of the Participant's Manual
Profitability of Demand Drivers
Rationale For Using Simulations
Source and Quality of Initial Decisions
Weird Results




Customer Purchase Process

“How do customers in LINKS make purchase decisions?”

You should assume that the LINKS markets function like real markets. Customers take into account absolute and relative competitive standing on design quality (service design quality), experience quality (service operations quality), accessibility, and price in their purchase decisions.

revised 03/10/2007
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listed under "Strategy"





Demand Drivers

“We're interested in understanding the key drivers of our business based on price, perceived design quality, perceived experience quality, and perceived accessibility for our support services. Do you have any suggestions on how we might approach this issue?”
Great question! Understanding how your "controllables" (price, perceived design quality, perceived experience quality, and perceived accessibility) influence your results (market share, volume) is central to sales forecasting and running your business. Please view this video for more details.

revised 05/04/2018
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listed under "Forecasting"
listed under "Marketing"





Forecasting Hints/Tips

“Do you have any hints or tips to improve our sales forecasting?”

Create a spreadsheet that tracks historical sales for each service and region. Graph the sales history for each service and region, paying special attention to the most recent couple of rounds of data. This provides a baseline forecasting capability (a simple extrapolation of past sales), assuming no changes in the market (e.g., no reconfigurations, no pricing changes, and no marketing spending changes). Then, modify your forecasts in light of your forecasts of potential changes in customer-facing initiatives for both you and for your competitors. Use the "Judgmental Sales Forecasting Worksheet" in the LINKS participant's manual to systematically organize your forecasting process.

revised 06/17/2004
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listed under "Forecasting"





General Advice

“What general advice can you offer for a new LINKS participant?”
Please view this video for some general advice nuggets to guide your efforts at mastering LINKS and to offer hope that you might be able to continuously improve your performance throughout your LINKS exercise.

revised 05/04/2018
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General Advice at the Beginning of LINKS

“What general advice do you have for our team as we begin LINKS?”
Please view this video which provides general advice for your team as you begin managing your LINKS firm.

revised 05/03/2018
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Help With a LINKS Question

“I have a question about some aspect of LINKS. What should I do?”
Please view this video which provides advice about resolving LINKS questions you might have.

revised 05/03/2018
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How Much Research Should We Order?

“We're having trouble deciding on which research studies to order and how much to spend on research studies. Can you provide us with some guidelines about how much we should spend on research studies?”

Order as much research as you can use efficiently and effectively, and no more. Remember, too, that you've probably never seen a headline in The Wall Street Journal (or other major business publication) of the sort "Company Goes Bankrupt For Spending Too Much on Research."

revised 10/08/2002
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listed under "Research Studies"
listed under "Strategy"





Marketing Decisions and Their Impacts

“Do the various marketing decisions (marketing spending, marketing mix allocation, etc.) affect performance outcomes other than awareness/accessibility? Marketing spending seems like a weaker driver of market share than most other decisions.”

Marketing decisions mostly affect awareness/accessibility perceptions. But, the positioning decision presumably has some impact on perceived service design quality and perceived service experience quality, if positioning includes those elements and if the positioning is consistent with the actual standing of the service in the marketplace.

There may also be some prioritization issues (stage-wise processing) underlying customer choices for support services. Until a firm offers a "good enough" service with an appropriate benefits-related price, why would service experience quality or awareness/accessibility matter that much? All the accessibility or service experience quality in the world can't matter that much for a "poor" over-priced service. ("I know about it and it's lousy. which is why I don’t buy it.") Once a "good enough" service is offered, then perhaps service experience quality and accessibility become meaningful differentiators.

Moral: first, get service design and pricing sorted out; then, work on service experience quality and awareness/accessibility.

revised 04/19/2009
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Most Important Part of the Participant's Manual

“What's the most important part of the whole LINKS participant's manual?”

The whole thing!

revised 01/01/2007
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Profitability of Demand Drivers

“What can we do to assess the relative importance and potential profitability of all of the elements that drive our firm's demand?”
Please view the following video which provides advice for your LINKS team about assessing the profitability of the wide range of potential demand drivers that might affect your LINKS business.

revised 05/04/2018
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listed under “Advice”
listed under “Financial and Operating Reports”
listed under “Generate Demand”
listed under “Information Technology”
listed under ”Marketing”
listed under "Service"





Rationale For Using Simulations

“What's the rationale for using simulations in management education?”

The classic reasons for using a management simulation game include the following:

  • active not passive participation, enhancing learning motivation
  • application of key business concepts, especially coordination and planning
  • analysis and decisions in the context of market-based feedback in the face of thoughtful vigilant competitors
  • rapid feedback encourages participants to learn from their successes and failures within a relatively low-risk competitive environment
  • small-group decision-making exercise under time pressure
  • learning variety (simulations are novel learning environments)

revised 04/15/2000
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Source and Quality of Initial Decisions

“How were the original decisions in LINKS determined? What weight should we give to them?”

All initial LINKS decisions are what they are. There is no implied "grand" strategy or design in these decisions. (And, you know that all firms have the same decisions in place as your assume managerial control of your LINKS firm.) It is not necessarily clear that any particular decision is "wise." Overall, the initial set of decisions did lead to positive profitability, but you are now in control of your firm. Make changes if you think they are appropriate.

revised 02/04/2007
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Weird Results

“The LINKS markets seem a lot more volatile than I’m used to in my own business experience. Is there something peculiar about the way LINKS behaves?”

The LINKS markets are what they are. Surely, the ultimate business principle is “listen to your customers” (markets). So, please do “listen” carefully to the various LINKS markets. You need to build your business practices around your markets, which may be different than markets in which you have personal business experience.

And please:

  1. Consider the term “markets” (with an “s”) … different markets may behave differently, so attend to such possible market segment differences.
  2. Don’t assume that your “Pacific” region is identical to the Asia-Pacific region with which you might have personal or business experience. The LINKS “Pacific” market could be different (different in size, in growth, in behavior, in sensitivity to various marketing instruments, etc.) than your personal Asia-Pacific region.
  3. Reflect on the possibility that markets can change through time (“drift” not “revolution”).

revised 02/05/2007
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listed under "Advice"
listed under "Financial and Operating Results"
listed under "Forecasting"
listed under "Strategy"




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