Customer Purchase Process
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
“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.
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 the following video for more details.
“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.
Some general advice nuggets are offered in the following video 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.
The following video provides general advice for your team as you begin managing your LINKS firm.
The following video provides provides advice about resolving LINKS questions you might have.
“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."
“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.
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.
“What's the most important part of the whole LINKS participant's manual?”
The whole thing!
The following video provides advice for your LINKS team about assessing the profitability of the wide range of potential demand drivers that might affect your LINKS business.
“What's the rationale for using simulations in management education?”
The classic reasons for using a management simulation game include the following:
“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.
“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: