Dawn Iacobucci has overhauled the tried-and-true marketing management textbook
by Jennifer Johnston
photo by Steve Green
Imagine writing a new version of the Bible. That’s pretty much what Dawn Iacobucci, the E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Marketing, has accomplished in the marketing world with MM, her new marketing management textbook.
MM, published by 4LTR Press, has shaken up the traditional textbook model by providing access to interspersed Web-based quizzes, interactive reviews, Power Points, and videos of real-world marketing planning sessions. It is among the first graduate-level texts to utilize digital tools to enhance learning. The publisher even shies away from calling it a book, referring to it instead as a “learning tool.”
For 30 years, there was only one textbook on marketing management, edited and updated by Phil Kotler, Iacobucci’s former colleague at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. While Kotler’s book is well-respected and “branded,” Iacobucci saw it as essentially “a book of lists” about marketing.
“I wanted to create a framework that shows how the chapters relate, and help students understand the big picture,” Iacobucci said.
Each chapter of Iacobucci’s book starts with a reminder of the text’s framework to show how one concept layers onto the next.
“We’re really trying to teach people marketing, not just tell them the things they have to think about,” she said. “For example, how does pricing fit in with branding or e-commerce?”
Examples were updated and chapters were shortened to reflect today’s learning styles. The book is designed for MBA students and higher-level undergraduate business classes. Students today are more reluctant to buy textbooks, Iacobucci notes, especially bulky ones. She recognizes that today’s graduate students comprise the first generation to be fully plugged in to the digital revolution, but she wants to persuade them to stay away from complete reliance on Internet sources for marketing as very few prove reliable and trustworthy.
In terms of case studies, the textbook encourages a more in-depth exploration than in the traditional model.
“Typically, these cases would be discussed more in isolation. If you pick up a case that has to do with distribution retail, the framework of the book helps you see how distribution relates to price, brand perception and customer feedback. I hope it encourages students to take a more holistic and integrated approach to marketing,” Iacobucci said.
The chapter on product design also pushes students to actively learn how to integrate new products, which is more challenging than most realize from just reading a book.
“One of the key issues that comes up when new products come out is that the financial guys in a company want to know how it is going to sell,” she said. “Someone has to estimate the size of the new customer base. There’s a section on how to figure it out using age group, geographical and census data, really winnowing in and focusing in so you can actually get a decent ballpark estimate about your customer base.”
Once students go through that exercise and realize there are “millions of decisions to make,” they understand not only how difficult those numbers are to configure, but how valuable they can be if calculated properly, she said.
“They get it conceptually, but mathematically they don’t know where to start,” Iacobucci said. In the book, there are examples and exercises that show future marketers how to lay out those kinds of spreadsheets.
Among the real-world business scenarios included in the book are Amazon.com as a distribution channel, IKEA customer expectations in the United States vs. Europe, and consumer demand for HDTV programming.
“MM represents a radical and needed change in the way marketing is being taught at the graduate business school level,” said Jim Bradford, dean of Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. “It will help ensure that tomorrow’s marketers are grounded in sound science as it relates to the seismic changes in the marketplace.” Among those seismic changes is social networking as a marketing tool, one of Iacobucci’s current research interests.
MM is the first graduate-level textbook in the 4LTR Press Series from Cengage Learning. As a marketing expert, Iacobucci recognizes that publishing cycles are increasingly shorter and that her textbook will be subject to constant updates and editing.
“It is a really fun project, and I just hope it makes a difference to some people,” she said.
Iacobucci said there are no hard feelings with her former colleague, Kotler.
“I asked for his blessing, and he said he welcomes the competition,” she said.
Iacobucci, associate dean for faculty development at the Owen School, is the author of Mediation Analysis (Sage) and co-author of Marketing Research: Methodological Foundations (Cengage). MM provides the basis for her classes in marketing management and marketing strategy for Owen Executive MBA students.