Marketing as a Mindset

Viewing Marketing Not as a Function, but as a Mindset

Prof. Dr. Carsten Bartsch, obtained his doctorate from HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management in 2001 and is teaching at HHL within the MBA programs for more than 15 years. He also made a name for himself internationally as a management coach and business consultant. Currently, he is Professor of Marketing and Strategy, Director of Business Programs and Vice President for International Development and Executive Education at HDBW.

In this interview, he talks about the important theory-to-practice transfer in his Business Simulation class, from which not only his students benefit, but also the professor himself.

Mr. Bartsch, how exactly does your Business Simulation class facilitate the transfer from theory to practice?

My class represents a simulation in the fields of strategic corporate leadership and strategic marketing. It takes place during the final week of the GEMBA program, therefore allowing students to recollect the individual functional components which they have been taught over the past 21 months once again in an application-oriented manner. The topic of corporate leadership consists of analysis, market research, budget, and development planning, target definition, strategy implementation in the market with all marketing and distribution measures as well as financial controlling referring back to the company’s strategy, which makes it incredibly diverse. The class summarizes the program content in a practical and application-oriented manner. As the students work together in teams which compete against each other, the cross-cultural experience comes into effect as well.

For a better understanding: What exactly does the transfer from theory to practice look like within the simulation?

Fundamentally, there are four electronics companies which are in competition with one another. The goal is to satisfy the shareholders and make decisions in all previously described sub-fields. There are specific consultant-customer situations during the decision-making periods in which the current status of the company is analyzed. In this context as well, the students must transfer theoretical knowledge more and more into practice.

To what extent does it become visible if a company changes its budget for research and development, for instance?

Altogether, a time period of seven business years is simulated. Cause-and-effect relations between one’s own decisions and the market become immediately visible. This includes things which cannot be seen in corporate reality in many cases as the effects caused by certain decisions only become apparent on a medium or long-term basis.

Lecturers learn from the participants in their classes as well. How do you benefit from your GEMBA students?

To me, the GEMBA classes are among the most fascinating classes a lecturer can teach. Over the course of three intense days, I get to know outstanding participants. The learning experience is different every single time. I learn about the people themselves, the way they work and their decision-making. Moreover, I find out things about the industries and companies as well as the challenges and developments which they are currently facing. It is also very interesting to see how experienced managers handle crises and conflict situations.

What three pieces of advice do you have to offer regarding marketing for executives?

Firstly, it is important to view marketing not just as a function, but rather as a mindset. Marketing is not just what the respective marketing departments do. In fact, each individual department in the company should ask itself the fundamental question why a customer should spend money on the products of that specific company. The question sounds very innocent at first, but it is highly complex because customers, competitors, and the market environment have to be assessed in a future-oriented manner.

Secondly, marketing is closely connected to analysis which equals an investment in future market success. Those who believe that they cannot take the time to complete an in-depth analysis and develop a fundamental understanding of the market today because of the pressure from the market will no longer be on the market tomorrow.

Thirdly, tomorrow’s marketing will differ from today’s. Digitalization, customer needs which change at an increasing pace, requirements for an improved understanding of customers, big data and many other things require a more personal customer approach. The question in this context is not how someone reacts to these developments with their existing business model, but rather whether the current business model can be sustained in the future. Therefore, it is important to learn to constantly question one’s own business and always reinvent oneself.


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Get a taste: Open Lecture in the Global Executive MBA Program

You are warmly invited to join one of our Global Executive MBA lectures during the next modular week at HHL in Leipzig, which is scheduled from
Aug 28 to Sep 02, 2017. 

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