February 2016 | 

Marketing for New Marketers and Non-Marketers: Just the Essentials

Marketing for New Marketers and Non-Marketers: Just the Essentials

Wharton Executive Education Vice Dean Jagmohan Raju, who is also a professor of marketing, recently spoke with Wharton@Work about the Strategic Marketing Essentials program. Designed for new marketers and non-marketers — including those with backgrounds in engineering, sciences, medicine, finance, IT, sales, or HR — the program distills a popular MBA course into a six-day immersive experience.

Wharton@Work: What are some of the biggest marketing challenges facing organizations today?

Jagmohan Raju: First, the transition from being product-centric to customer-centric is critical. Second, today’s business environment requires that everyone in the organization knows how to take a new idea to market no matter what function you are in. This is a skill everyone needs to have. This is the core skill we focus on in the course: how do you take a new product or service to market? Alternatively, if you have an offering that is not doing well, what do you do to turn it around?

W@W: Was that the idea behind Strategic Marketing Essentials, to provide a foundation for people without a marketing background?

JR: Yes — today we are seeing people in R&D, in engineering, in sciences and medicine, in sales and finance, and in IT, who have marketing responsibilities. We took the core of a course that all of our Wharton MBA students take and distilled it into a one-week format. The same award-winning faculty teach it. We have as many as eight senior Wharton faculty teach in the program, so we bring the best of Wharton to our participants. This is a major difference between this program and those offered to executives at other schools.

W@W: Is there a leadership and credibility issue for executives who are new to marketing?

JR: Leadership is not just about making good decisions. You have to convince others to accept your decisions and follow you. We teach participants how to make fact-based, data-driven decisions, which are more acceptable because you can easily justify them. It is no longer one person’s opinion vs. another’s.

W@W: It could be argued that marketing has undergone more changes in recent years than any other functional area. How do you keep the content current?

JR: As the world evolves, the program evolves. It is a process of continuous innovation that includes new tools, methods, concepts, case studies, and examples.

W@W: You mentioned the transition from product- to customer-centricity. How can companies make this transition?

JR: You need to make what you can sell rather than sell what you can make. Having deep customer insights is a good starting point. But in many industries, customer insights are not enough. Because of long product development cycles, you have to know what the customer will want two or three years from now. What you need really is customer foresight. Everyone needs to be able to take data, whether it is from social media, neural imaging, or traditional sources, and analyze it to develop deep insights and foresights. What you do with the data is more important than the data itself.