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Mock Madness. Tackling the Marketing Case. Michelle Antonio, Columbia Career Coach November 10, 2011. Goals. Share the employer perspective on interviews Overview of what to expect in the case portion of the marketing interviews

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Mock Madness

Tackling the Marketing Case

Michelle Antonio, Columbia Career Coach

November 10, 2011


  • Share the employer perspective on interviews

  • Overview of what to expect in the case portion of the marketing interviews

  • Review the most common types of Marketing cases & constructs for answering

  • Highlight Key Resources/Next Steps to prepare for success

Employer perspective
Employer Perspective

  • Hiring is a time intensive process for employers and candidates. Hiring mistakes are costly on both sides.

  • Employers look to hire candidates who demonstrate:

    • Passion for the function, industry & company

    • Cultural Fit

    • Skills, knowledge & initiative to succeed

      • Leadership

  • Teamwork

  • Project management

  • High-Level Communication Skills

  • Strategic thinking

  • Creativity/innovation

  • Analytical thinking

  • Knowledge of marketing concepts

Assessed in case interview performance

Interview structure
Interview Structure

  • 1st round: 30-45 minutes

  • Final round(s): Varies by company

  • Format includes some or all of the following:

    • “Walk Me Through Your Resume” or “Tell Me About Yourself” (Pitch Questions)

    • Baseline questions:

      • Why Columbia?

      • Why marketing/brand management?

      • Why this industry?

      • Why this company?

    • Behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time…”)

    • Marketing cases

Why ask marketing case questions
Why Ask Marketing Case Questions?

  • Great method for evaluating:

    • Knowledge of marketing concepts

    • Critical skills for the job

      • Strategic Thinking

      • Analytical Skills

      • Communication Skills

      • Creativity/Innovation

    • Ability to think on your feet

  • What do marketing firms expect from you?

    • Strong understanding of, and ability to apply, key marketing concepts – not previous background

    • Insight in to how you think is more important than the “right” answer

How to handle marketing case questions
How to handle Marketing Case questions

  • Approach each question with a logical structure/ marketing framework (3 Cs, 4 Ps, STP)

  • Start strategic (broad), then get tactical (narrow)

  • Ask for, but don’t be dependent on, receiving data

  • Apply the “other” 3 Cs (Clarity, Conciseness & Confidence):

    • Clarity – articulate your roadmap upfront and your rationale throughout so they can see how you think

    • Conciseness – ask focused, relevant questions

    • Confidence – make reasonable assumptions, draw conclusions, assert your opinions, deliver recommendations

Typical marketing case types
Typical Marketing Case Types

  • New Product Launch case

  • Business Case (declining sales, declining share, defending against a new competitor, etc.)

  • Advertising Critique

  • Creativity/Innovation case

  • General Marketing Knowledge case

New product launch cases
New Product Launch cases

  • These cases test your ability to apply strategic and tactical marketing concepts as it relates to a new product launch

    • Company X is contemplating launching an existing product in a new market….

    • Company Y is considering launching a new product under existing Brand X…

    • Company Z wants to evaluate whether it should expand Brand Z in to a new category segment…

Approaching new product launch cases
Approaching New Product Launch cases

  • Strategic (3 Cs, STP) and tactical (4 Ps) frameworks will be needed

  • Always start with the consumer/customer – do consumers want/need this product?

  • Assess the company opportunity & competition

    • Competitive threats/response

    • Cost/Ease of entry (capital investment, branding, distribution)

    • Size of the market – estimate your market share

  • Determine Segment/Target/Positioning – what is your singular benefit that you intend to deliver to your target customers. How will your positioning be differentiated from competition?

Approaching new product launch cases cont d
Approaching New Product Launch cases (cont’d)

  • Determine marketing execution (4 P’s)

    • Price – should reflect positioning and drive profit

    • Product – which attributes to offer

    • Promotion – how will you create awareness and trial for product?

    • Placement – where will consumer buy it?

Business case questions
Business Case Questions

  • Can range from mini consulting case questions to real-world business scenarios

  • Mini consulting case examples

    • How many blue cars are there in the US?

    • If everyone in China held hands how many times would they circle the earth?

    • At any one point in time, how many gallons of ice cream are being sold around the world?

  • Real world business scenarios

    • Declining Sales

    • Declining Share

    • Defending against new competitor

  • Approaching business case questions declining sales share
    Approaching Business Case Questions – Declining Sales/Share

    • Start broad/strategic:

      • Is decline driven by general category decline or share decline in my brand only?

      • Why is category/share declining? Answer will drive decision to reverse decline or exit category

        • Substitutes vs. change in consumer habits

        • Change in own product vs. competitor product

    Approaching business case questions declining sales share cont d
    Approaching Business Case Questions – Declining Sales/Share (cont’d)

    • Once root causes are identified, determine strategy and tactics to address:

      • If category is declining, develop strategy to increase category usage or exit

      • If share is declining, determine why (explore 4 P’s) and develop appropriate strategic response

        • Price: has my price changed relative to competition?

        • Product: has the quality of my product changed or has competition upgraded/launched new products?

        • Promotion – have promotions changed?

        • Placement – have I lost distribution relative to competition?

    Approaching business case questions defending against new competitor
    Approaching Business Case Questions – Defending Against New Competitor

    • Assess the threat to determine whether or not you need to defend

      • Does the new product meet an untapped consumer need?

      • How strong is the competitor? Will they spend to support the launch? Do they have track record of being smart marketers?

      • Where will they take volume from? Are they targeting you or your competitors?

    • If you need to defend, strategies to consider:

      • Reinforce brand/product equity with advertising – remind consumers why your product is superior to discourage them from trying new product

      • Upgrade your product to provide new benefit

    Approaching business case questions defending against new competitor cont d
    Approaching Business Case Questions – Defending Against New Competitor (cont’d)

    • If you need to defend, strategies to consider (cont’d):

      • Load consumers with your product so they will be stocked during competitor launch by using price incentives

      • If issue is private label entrant, determine how much of a price premium you can charge before your brand starts to lose volume; also, consider introducing a value brand

    • Track new competitor’s performance after launch

    Advertising critique case
    Advertising Critique Case New Competitor (cont’d)

    • These cases assess your ability to critically analyze the effectiveness of a current or potential advertising campaign, using a consumer and brand focused framework

    • What is the most innovative advertising campaign you’ve seen in the last year and why?

    • Give an example of an advertising campaign that you think was misguided or a failure and why?

    Approaching the advertising critique case
    Approaching the Advertising Critique Case New Competitor (cont’d)

    • Assess the advertising on the following dimensions:

    • Consumer

      • Who is the Ad targeting?

      • Will This Ad get the Target Consumer’s attention and be recalled?

      • Is it being seen/heard in the optimal print/media channels?

    • Benefit

      • What is the Benefit being communicated in the Ad?

      • Is the Benefit being communicated clearly? Is it compelling?

  • Brand

    • Does the Ad link the Brand to the Benefit?

    • Is the Brand portrayed positively?

  • Impact

    • Would this Ad compel the Target Consumer to purchase the product?

    • Is the Ad “ownable” by the brand (i.e., could any other brand deliver this message)?

  • Creativity innovation case questions
    Creativity/Innovation Case New Competitor (cont’d)Questions

    • These questions are opportunities to:

    • Demonstrate you can think creatively on your feet

    • Convey your passion for marketing

    • Prove you can link creativity to strategy… So, think strategically!

    • Express your personality

    • Examples:

    • If you could be a snack food, which one would you be and why?

    • What are 10 things you can do with an empty pint of Haagen- Dazs ice cream?

    • What are 5 ways you can improve a cereal box?

    • Approach: While there are no stock frameworks for these creativity questions, you can and should use structure and frameworks to generate ideas

    General marketing knowledge cases
    General Marketing Knowledge Cases New Competitor (cont’d)

    • Questions that assess your general marketing and industry knowledge…that can easily turn in to another case:

      • What are the main consumer trends that you see in the marketplace for Category X?…If you had to launch a product to capitalize on one of these trends, what would it be and why? How would you market it?

      • What is your favorite advertising campaign today?..If you had to launch a counter ad campaign, what would it be and why?

    Approaching general marketing knowledge cases
    Approaching General Marketing Knowledge Cases New Competitor (cont’d)

    • Requires you to tap in to your knowledge of current trends, current events; so prepare by doing research, research, research!

    • Recognize that these cases can be similar to other ones – assessing a new product launch, advertising critique, so use frameworks where appropriate

    • Demonstrate your passion by asserting your opinion

    New product case example in action
    New Product Case Example in Action New Competitor (cont’d)

    • You are charged with marketing in the U.S. a candy bar that has been very successful in England. 

    • What things should you consider in bringing the product to the U.S.?

    • Debrief:

    • After hearing the candidate’s response, what do you think worked well?

    • What could have been improved in her response?

    Resources next steps
    Resources & Next Steps New Competitor (cont’d)


    • Career Management Center:

    • Advisors, Columbia Coaches, Career Fellows for mock interviews

    • CML: Job Juice Cards, Resume Books, Business Card Binders

    • COIN: Industry Research>Marketing>Interview Qs, Interview Stream, First Research, Career Digital Media>Recruiter Tips/Coaching Tips

    • MAC:

    • Your Mentor

    • The MAC website, Company Events and presentations

    • Other:

    • Mock Madness Phase 2 (December): Stay tuned for more details!

    • Go shopping, research company websites, blogs, trade publications (AdAge, BrandWeek, AdCritic)

    • Watch and analyze TV commercials (Super Bowl)

    • Meet insiders (alumni, company reps, classmates)

    Closing thoughts
    Closing Thoughts New Competitor (cont’d)

    • There are 3 things you need to prove in the interview:


        • Translate your resume and interview responses in to marketing language

        • Know how your experience is relevant and sell your skills!


        • Know why you want to work for that company


        • Know why you want to work in marketing

        • Do your homework on the industry and company

        • Get excited and show it!

    Good luck and let us know how we can help!