MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Marketing

Monetization lessons from Pokémon Go

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 4 months and 10 days ago

Marketing lessons from Pokemon Go and Catherine Tucker of MIT

Marketing successes often spark a series of copy cats—companies that decide the best approach to a quick marketing win is to just "do what they did" and reap the same benefits. Sadly, that almost never works. Mostly this is because what makes the marketing campaign successful is its uniqueness, and a copycat campaign lacks just that. So for all those companies thinking they should copy the wildly popular Pokémon Go, it’s time to put the brakes on that idea.

But there are some marketing strategies—or, more specifically, monetization strategies—that companies can learn and co-opt from Pokémon Go’s commercial and viral success. Catherine Tucker, Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management, touched on these in her TechCrunch article, "The Monetization Promise and Pitfalls of Pokémon Go." We've summarized them below.

Develop target partner personas
One might think nearly every business—especially small business—would appreciate the extra foot traffic from Pokémon Go players hunting rare characters. Some businesses with traditionally long lines and a tendency towards rapid ordering and service are not necessarily the right place for people to be playing games on their phones, however. Imagine being in a lunchtime line at a typical New York pizza place, only to be held up by Pokémon Go players glued to their phones—that’s not going to go over well with the other patrons, or with the counter staff (think Seinfeld’s famous Soup Nazi!).

On the other hand, Tucker points to franchise companies like Jamba Juice. "For starters, Pokémon Go and Jamba Juice have similarly youthful brand images ... At the very least, it's unlikely that Pokémon Go customers searching for Pokémon would inadvertently annoy Jamba Juice's existing customers." Lesson: think about how your customers, their demographics, and their behaviors map to those of your ideal partners' customers.

Don't over-value your data
Consumer or user data was once thought of as extremely valuable. What kind of powerful and successful business could Foursquare build based on all that data it was acquiring (where and how frequently its users dined at and visited various types of businesses)? Well, one rather disastrous pivot later and that question will never be answered. As Tucker points out in her article, Waze and Facebook both have volumes of location-based data. Pokémon Go also has location-based data. It’s all valuable, but not unique. If you think data is your monetization strategy, proceed with caution.

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Mobile giant asks MIT to help it maintain its edge

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 6 months and 13 days ago

china mobile

Although China Mobile is the largest mobile company in the world, several years ago the successful, high-ranking member of the global Fortune 500 realized it needed to up its game to compete in the world market. The telecom giant recognized that applying innovation to all aspects of its company--from new products and services to operations processes and marketing strategies--was the way to address the rapid changes occurring in the telecommunications industry and also ensure its long-term success.

"In order to maintain China Mobile’s leadership position in the world, we need our executives to think strategically, have a global perspective, and hone their innovation skills--all contributing to improved management capabilities," explained Mr. Zhang Xi, HQ HR, General Manager at China Mobile.

In an effort to expose the company's senior executives to the most progressive ideas about innovation, China Mobile explored working with leading U.S. universities known for their research in that area. In addition to Tsinghua University in Beijing, the MIT Sloan Custom Program was selected. "We believe that MIT has always been the cradle of the latest technology and scientific research in the U.S.," said Karen Li, Associate Director of Executive Education at Tsinghua University, adding that the two universities already have a long-term partnership in MBA programs.

At the outset of the program, China Mobile and Tsinghua University worked in tandem to leverage MIT's cutting-edge innovation research and identify critical business challenges facing the company. In particular, the China Mobile leadership team was interested in concepts that would help to propel the company as a whole--such as platform strategies and value chains. "Our main goal is to learn from the world-renowned faculty and best American companies and try to simulate best practices in our daily work," said Mr. Zhang.

To that end, executives in the custom program explored leading innovation and strategy research by MIT Sloan faculty, and visited research labs as well as companies in the MIT ecosystem. Program materials focused on general management concepts such as strategy and innovation. As the program progressed, the sessions combined content-rich lectures and small-group discussions on topics ranging from general management ideas about leadership and strategy to more industry-specific subjects like big data, mobile trends, and digital marketing.

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Is your online persona projecting the right image?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 8 months and 2 days ago

"In our digital age, it's no surprise that the use of video is increasing in all industries, whether it is in a business setting to encourage employees to take action, teaching videos to train employees, or videos to boost morale," says MIT Professor Edward Schiappa. "Videos are a powerful medium and if we want to encourage people about certain behaviors, it is more powerful to show and not just tell through a visual channel."


The expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" may have started as an advertising slogan, but there is no question that visual images are just as powerful in today's digital age as they were in predigital society. In fact, in a society where people often meet for the first time via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, visual elements are an important part of an online profile, professional or otherwise. The question to ask is, "Are you the master of the visual messages that you are sending personally, professionally, or on behalf of your organization?"

As a society, we innately make inferences based on images and often make snap judgements from those inferences. In turn, those judgements affect how we are perceived by the people we want to influence in our daily lives, whether they are friends, family, or potential employers. According to Edward Schiappa, MIT Professor and expert in the field of digital communications, there are three things to think about when it comes to visual persuasion in the digital age and identifying who you are online.

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Business cards still a viable way to connect in the digital age

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 years and 3 months and 1 day ago

business card

While it may not be used in courting as calling cards were in the 1800s, the business card still has its uses, even in this age of dwindling hand written letters where tweets, texts, and emails rule. So says MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management JoAnne Yates, who explains that today's business cards developed from trade cards and visiting cards of earlier centuries.  Trade cards were popular and practical in the 17th century with tradesmen who traveled throughout Europe in an effort to connect with potential customers, leaving cards to allow future contact with them.

By the time the 19th century rolled around the calling card--which was originally used by royalty in Europe to alert hosts of their arrival--had spread to society, with callers of higher social classes leaving cards to indicate their visits even when the person they visited was not present.  Eventually, the trade card and the calling card merged into the business card. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that the business card as we know it was born--largely due to the American work structure, which was expanding and becoming multilayered, adds Yates. "During the early 20th century, many firms grew into large, hierarchical and multidivisional firms, making it desirable for managers to have business cards that indicated their positions within them."

So, in today's fast paced, iphone-oriented society, is there still a place for the once ubiquitous business card? Yates, says, "yes" for several reasons. For one, business cards serve as a tangible way to connect at networking events. It's a lot easier to hand out a business card than it is to enter a potential client's number into your phone, while simultaneously shaking his or her hand, all the while trying to maintain eye contact.

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MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker Receives Top Marketing Award

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 years and 11 months and 1 day ago

In recognition of her accomplishments as an emerging female marketing scholar and mentor, MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker recently received the 2015 Erin Anderson Award, presented each year by the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF). 

The award recognizes the life of Erin Anderson--a widely respected mentor and marketing scholar from INSEAD whose research made significant contributions to marketing. It was presented in February at the AMA (American Marketing Association) Winter Marketing Educators' Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

As an Associate Professor of Management Science and the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor at MIT Sloan, Tucker has expertise in online advertising, digital health, social media, and electronic privacy. Tucker says she "is interested in how technology allows firms to use digital data to improve their operations and marketing and in the challenges this poses for regulations designed to promote innovation."

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Are Super Bowl ads worth the expense?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 years and 22 days ago

The Super Bowl isn't just the biggest day for football and chicken wings—it's also the biggest day of the year for U.S. television advertising. This year, NBC announced that the Super Bowl marks "a record day in media for the company and for any TV company in terms of the volume of dollars the Super Bowl will represent on air."In numbers that means more than 70 advertisers are spending between $4.4 million and $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. The pay-off is that these advertisers will reach 115 million to 130 million TV viewers.

Many of the advertisers are traditional consumer brands, well known to the American audience, including Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nissan and Toyota. First time Super Bowl advertisers are Carnival cruise lines and Mophie.

But the decision to create and purchase an ad for the Super Bowl is a complex one. Yes, you may get millions of impressions, but who are these viewers? Are they in your target market? Are they likely to be interested in purchasing your product or service? The ad has to resonate with a large audience to stand out among all the other ads. 

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Launching a successful start-up #1: The brainstorming phase

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 years and 2 months and 27 days ago

This is the first post in a series on launching a successful startup. One of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is trying to be everything to everyone in the hopes of increasing their market share. In the beginning, many new entrepreneurs can be overwhelmed by their own brainstorming taking an “act now, plan later” approach to get a jump on the competitionBut the foundation stage of a new venture is critical because it’s the stage when entrepreneurs must define the specific ingredients that make their product or service competitive—the stage where they determine a target market that will use that product or service.

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