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Question of the Week: Why do our Awareness and PR Indexes fall even when we spend more? | MikesBikes Business Simulation

Consumers can only recall a certain amount of Branding, Advertising and Public Relations (PR) messages they see. So a given amount of advertising spend, for example, becomes less effective as the total amount of advertising viewed by consumers increases.

Imagine you are the only competitor in the market and you spend $5 million on Advertising or PR. You will probably get excellent coverage, a high proportion of consumers will remember your production, and you will have high advertising or PR indexes.

Now, imagine you are one of the five competitors in the market, each of whom is spending $5 million on Advertising. Although you might reach the same number of consumers as before, they are now being bombarded with five times the amount of advertising. This is confusing, so fewer consumers will remember your products and your indexes may fall (i.e. your advertising spend is now less effective due to the large amount of “noise” that consumers have to put up with.)

The same effect applies if your competitors start spending more. Say there are five products in a segment and you are spending $4 million, and your competitors are spending $1 million each. You will probably have relatively high indexes as you are providing $4 million out of the total $8 million advertising spend.

Now imagine you keep your spend at $4 million, but your competitors increase their spend to $5 million each. You are now providing only $4 million out of a total $24 million spend and consumers are receiving three times as much advertising in total as they were previously. So again, a lower proportion of consumers will remember your products and your indexes may fall from their earlier levels.

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CRM System in AdSim Advertising Simulation

Customer Relationship Management in AdSim Advertising Simulation

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Three periods into the simulation and you will be given control of your firm’s Customer Relationship Management strategy.

Customer Relationship Management or CRM is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers.

Retention of Existing Customers is a key part of how to win AdSim and this is your main decision for keeping them satisfied with your Customer Service Level.

Purpose of CRM

The purpose of a Customer Relationship Management strategy in AdSim is to decide which policies you will implement to try and keep Existing Customers loyal to your Digital Camera brand.

You will be able to measure the effectiveness of your Customer Relationship Management strategy through two market research reports:

  • The Customer Relationship Management Evaluation report.

CRM Evaluation Report

Showing your adverts to a focus group of New and Existing customers and asking them to rate your current strategy’s appeal.

  • Competing Products Customer Relationship Management Options.

Competitor CRM report in AdSim

A comparison of your product’s Customer Relationship Management Options with its competition.

CRM Decisions In AdSim

Customer Relationship Management Decisions tab in AdSim Advertising Simulation showing decision screens

In AdSim you are required to make decisions about four elements of your Customer Relationship Management strategy:

  • CRM SYSTEM

Decide whether or not you want to invest in a Customer Relationship Management database system? And if so what type? e.g. Entry level, Mid-Level or Custom Built.

  • WARRANTY

What length of Warranty that you want to offer your customers? E.g. 90 Days, 180 Days, One Year or Two Years.

  • SUPPORT

What level of a customer service do you want to provide? E.g. A manual, a website too, an e-mail helpdesk, or a telephone helpdesk too.

  • LOYALTY

What type of customer loyalty program do you want to administer? E.g. nothing at all, a regular newsletter, a regular photo contest or even a photo school.

On each tab of the decision screen, i.e. CRM System, Warranty, Support and Loyalty you are required to choose which option you think best targets your customers within your budgetary constraints.

Note that each option has a cost associated with it and that amount will be deducted from your Promotion Budget if you select that option. Generally the greater the cost of the option, the more appeal it will have to your market.

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Measuring Your Firm’s Success in MikesBikes Business Simulation

Your Objective

Your objective is to create wealth for shareholders and so you will be evaluated on the cumulative change in Shareholder Value that your firm generates.

To see the shareholder value of your firm choose the “Financial Results for All Firms” report from the Key Reports menu.

Being evaluated on shareholder wealth is significantly different from evaluation based on net profit, market share, or earnings per share.

Your Aim

You should aim to:

  • Maximize net profit
  • Minimize shareholder investment
  • Minimize risk (associated with high levels of debt)

Due to these multiple objectives, a small niche marketer consistently earning good margins and without much debt may outperform a large heavily-indebted firm with earnings several times greater.

Firms will need to carefully consider these objectives when developing their overall strategy, their marketing, operational and financial plans. Simply increasing in size will not necessarily lead to an increase in shareholder value. You should only invest money (for example in new plant, new product development, or on factory improvements) if you believe that the return on these investments will be greater than what shareholders could achieve elsewhere at the same level of risk (e.g. shareholders can earn returns of 8% by investing in a term deposit). If not, you should instead consider repaying debt, paying a dividend, or repurchasing issued shares.

For more detail on how shareholder value is calculated and how to improve this, see the How to Increase Shareholder Value article.

Staff Salary, Training and Motivation level

MikesBikes Advanced Question of the Week: What happens if you invest in people and they leave?

Invest in developing your people in MikesBikes
By Peter Baeklund

Good people will stay longer, are more motivated and will work harder if you provide them with an opportunity to learn, and grow.

Some people will choose comfort and security, even if they’re not fully engaged with their jobs. This is both bad for them and for you.

According to current research, opportunity for growth and development are still two of the most powerful motivators.

Your business is nothing more than the collective energy and efforts of the people working with and for you. 

If you want to make your business better, invest in your people. They’ll get the job done.

Jim Bouchard

So what does this mean for you in MikesBikes?

Not sufficiently investing in training your staff, poorly paid workers and/or firing workers due to inaccurate capacity calculation will often result in a low skill and motivation index. In addition, another negative outcome of this is an increase in staff turnover rate, which means your products’ quality will also suffer.

So what should you do to ensure that your staff are highly motivated?

1. Pay your staff well

Workers are more motivated when they are paid well.

The average salary level you set will affect not only your bottom line, but also worker motivation and effectiveness. Factory workers are paid (on average) the rate you select. Administration staff are paid (on average) twice the rate. For comparison purposes, the average industry salary is $25,000 per year.

The graph below shows the motivation index achieved by changing the firm’s average salary from $25,000. The effect would be increased by sustaining the salary changes across succeeding years.

2. Train your staff 

You need to think carefully about the relationship between your overall strategy and how employee motivation and employee skill levels relate to that, especially if your strategy is to be a low cost, high volume manufacturer.

In general, well trained and motivated workers are more productive than poorly trained workers, so you need to employ fewer workers to achieve a given level of worker capacity. If your workers are well trained and motivated you need fewer Administration staff.

Well trained workers are a significant factor in improving your internal quality. Workers are more motivated when they are paid more and when they are well trained. They are less motivated when you fire other workers as their feeling of job security decreases.

The graph below shows the effect of job cuts on morale and staff turnover rate.

Poorly motivated and poorly trained workers can contribute to significant staff
turnover (sometimes as high as 40% to 50% per year). That gets expensive because each worker than is replaced costs $4,000 to replace. Also each new  worker arrives with a minimum level of training, so your average employee skill level is reduced which lowers your internal quality. So remember to maintain an appropriate balance in managing your workforce rather than using a ‘slave labor’ model even if your overall strategy is to be a low cost manufacturer.

3. Pay close attention to your workforce

Keep track of your staff’s Skill Index, Motivation Index and the Staff Turnover Rate by referring to the Manufacturing Quality Report every rollover. You can find this report in the Manufacturing menu > Reports tab and navigate down to the report.

Manufacturing Quality Report MikesBikes

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What is Weighted Average in MikesBikes?

MikesBikes Question of the Week: What does “Weighted Average” mean?

Market Summary Report in MikesBikes

It is the average Price / Awareness / PR / Distribution / Quality index weighted by the volume of demand for each product.

We use a weighted average to give a better indication of the overall level of value for consumers.

For instance, if you have two products A and B with A priced at $100 and B at $50, then the average price of those two products is $75, ie. ($100 + $50) / 2 = $75).

But for the weighted average we look at the amount of demand for each product.

If A had 100 units of demand and B had ten times as much demand (1,000 units) then the weighted average price would then be:

(100 * $100 per unit + 1000 * $50 per unit) / 1100 units = $54.55

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Distribution in MikesBikes

Making the Distribution Decision in MikesBikes

What is Distribution?

Distribution (place) relates to the ability of the firm to make products accessible to its target segments. This is achieved through distribution channels – in this case through retail outlets.

The number of stores in the channel that decide to stock your products will depend on the retail price, margin, unit sales history, and extra support offered. You must specify what margin and what extra support you are going to offer the retailers in each channel.

What is Retail Margin and Extra Support ($)?

The retailer margin decision refers to the percentage of the retail price that the retailer keeps.  So don’t increase it too much! Example, if your bike is priced at $1,000 and your retail margin is 40%, then the wholesale price that you receive for each bike is only $600.

Maintaining existing distributors and acquiring new ones require considerable resources. Extra Support  (e.g. in terms of special promotions and discounts) costs are required to enable product training of retailers and providing promotional literature.

Distribution costs vary based on the number of stores that currently stock your products.

Distribution and Branding screen in MikesBikes Advanced

Vendors of bikes can be broken into three categories:

  • Bike Shops
  • Department Stores
  • Sports Stores

(Note: Sports Stores are only available in Multi-Player in MikesBikes Advanced)

Your challenge is to decide how to set price and distributor retail margins in order to influence your distribution coverage in a way that results in either increased market share or increased profit.

Distribution Index

Your distributors look at how much total retail margin they make from stocking all of your products and based on this they decide how many stores will stock your products. This then translates into a Distribution Index which ranges from 0 to 1 (higher is better). In general as your distributors make more money from selling your products, then more stores will stock them and your Distribution Index will increase.

Distribution Index in MikesBikes

Example of Distributor Behavior

Note: The market segments all have medium sensitivity to Distribution apart from the Commuter segment, which has low sensitivity to distribution (see the Market Information report under the Key Reports menu).

For instance, if you sold 10,000 bikes at $1000 with a 50% retail margin, then your distributors would make 10,000 * 50% * $1000 = $5 million

Perhaps you dropped your price to $900, and your retail margin to 45% you can now sell 12,000 units. Your distributors would then make 12,000 * 45% * $900 = $4.86 million

In this case, your Distribution Index would fall slightly as your distributors made less retail margin in total. This may not be an issue in the Commuter market, but it may disadvantage you in the other market segments. Of course, it also depends on your competitors’ actions. If your competitors have much higher distribution indexes than you, then you will lose more market share.

As you can see, sales volume is also an important component of distribution. So it may be beneficial to keep retail margins slightly higher whilst building initial market share for new products. It may be possible to gradually reduce margins once you have established products with high sales volumes without adversely affecting your Distribution Index.

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Music2Go Inventory Costs

Question of the Week: What are the Inventory Costs in Music2Go Marketing Simulation?

There are two types of inventory costs in Music2Go.

Inventory Holding Cost

Each year all firms are charged 3.5% of the value of their average closing inventory for inventory holding costs to cover the cost of warehousing etc.

For instance, if you have 1 million units of unsold stock at the end of the year at a cost of $40 per unit, then you have $40 million of inventory which will cost:

3.5% *$40 million = $1.4m in holding cost

Inventory Disposal Loss

If a firm updates a product with a new design or abandons it altogether then all existing inventory is dumped at 93.5% of what the firm paid for it.

Example:

$1 million of inventory would be dumped for $935K giving a loss of $65K.

You can gather some valuable market research from looking at the figures for your competitors. Firms that have no inventory holding costs have stocked out, because they are under forecasting demand for their products. Firms with large inventories are over forecasting demand. If you see any inventory disposal costs, then you know that your competitor has either updated an existing product’s design or abandoned one.

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How to Set Retailer Price and Retailer Margin in Music2Go

Improving Total Marketing Contribution

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  • Contact us here.

Reference: 

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

AdSim Marketing Plan Budget Report

ADSIM ADVERTISING SIMULATION REPORT GUIDE: Marketing Plan Budget Report

What is the Marketing Plan Budget Report?

The forecast marketing expenditure budget shows you how much money you have available to spend this year as shown in the figure below.

Note: This report can be found in the Marketing Plan menu.

Forecast Project Budget Expenditure AdSim

There are three key parts of this report that you must understand.

Budget Limit

Your budget limit is set as part of your product’s marketing plan. It is up to you to decide whether you spend your entire budget or not.

How much you spend of this year’s budget has no effect on your budget for next year.

Budget Expenditure

The first column shows much money you currently have allocated to evaluation research, Agency fees and product advertising. Changing any of your decisions in these areas will automatically update this report.

Available to Spend

This is how much unallocated budget you have left, i.e. how much money you still have available to spend if you want to. Any money you spend will be deducted from your net marketing contribution, so you should only spend on activities where you think the return will more than cover the cost.

If this number is negative that means that you have exceeded your budget and you need to choose which advertising activities to cut back. If you do not do so yourself, then AdSim will automatically reduce your media advertising expenditure during the rollover to bring you back within budget.

Check out the latest AdSim Report Guide here:

Industry Benchmark Report

Need extra help?
  • You can receive an immediate answer to a number of commonly asked questions through our Support Center.
  • Contact us here.
AdSim Advertising Simulation by Smartsims Industry Benchmark Report

AdSim Advertising Simulation Report Guide: Industry Benchmark Report

What is the Industry Benchmark Report?

The Industry Benchmark Report is a summary of all firms’ Net Marketing Contribution reports so that you can benchmark yourself against your competitors as shown in the figure below.

In real life, this information would be difficult to obtain, but this report has been made available to you so that you can learn from your competitor(s).

There are several key parts of this report that you need to understand.

Sales & Gross Margin

Sales and Gross Margin in AdSim Advertising simulation

The Sales Revenue listed for each is the total wholesale sales revenue of all the firm’s products. The Cost of Goods Sold is the total cost of goods sold of all of the firm’s products that were sold, which is the number of units of a particular product sold multiplied by its manufacturing cost.

Gross Margin is the amount of profit that each firm made after the manufacturing costs were deducted.

You have no control over either the wholesale price or the manufacturing cost of your product, so your aim to maximize sales revenue by running the most cost effective advertising campaign that you can.

Product Marketing

Product Marketing in AdSim Advertising simulation

This section shows the combined Market Research, Agency Fees, Media Advertising, Customer Relationship and Marketing Communications expenditure for each firm.

The Evaluation Research expenditure lets you know how much market research your competitors are purchasing.

The Agency Fees let you know whether your competitors are using an Agency or not and how much it is costing them.

The Media Advertising expenditure allows you to see how much money your competitors are spending on Advertising, but now how they are allocating it to each media type.

Customer Relationship and Marketing Communications expenditure lets you know how much your competitors spent on implementing their selected options.

Net Marketing Contribution

Net Marketing Contribution in AdSim Advertising simulation

Net Marketing Contribution is the amount of profit remaining after manufacturing (cost of goods sold) and marketing expenditures have been deducted. The only costs still to be deducted are other functional overhead costs for your firm, e.g. finance, administration, etc.

Net Marketing Contribution is a measure of how profitable your firm is as a result of its strategic marketing plan. There is only one way that you can improve it, increase your Sales Revenue per dollar of Marketing Expenditure.

Need extra help?
  • You can receive an immediate answer to a number of commonly asked questions through our Support Center.
  • Contact us here.

MikesBikes Introduction Report Guide: Market Summary

What is the Market Summary Report?

The Market Summary Report is a market research report giving a side-by-side comparison of all the products currently being sold in the market.

MikesBikes Introduction Market Summary Report

8 Key Pieces of Information

Sales

Sales is simply how many units the particular product sold last year.

Retail Price

Retail Price is the recommended retail price that each firm set for their product(s). You need to remember that the wholesale price is retail price minus the retailer margin, so it’s possible that a cheaper product than yours might have a higher wholesale price if that firm has lower retail margins.

Awareness

Awareness is a measure of how many consumers in that segment are aware of your product due to your corporate brand advertising and product advertising.

An awareness rating of 0.50 means that 50% of the consumers in that segment are aware of your product. When trying to raise the awareness level of your product(s), you need to pay attention to making sure that you are targeting your budgets to the media types that the particular segment watches the most.

Public Relations (PR)

PR is a measure of how many consumers in that segment have a “good” public relations image of your product due to your PR expenditure. When consumers read bike magazines you want them to see your product being reviewed and talked about and that is what your PR budgets are for. A PR rating of 0.40 means that 40% of the consumers in that segment have heard some good PR about your product.

Distribution

The distribution rating is a measure of how much distribution coverage your product has. A distribution rating of 0.65 means that 65% of consumers in that segment will find your product in a store they regularly shop at.

The only way to improve your distribution rating is to convince more stores to stock
your bikes

Quality

The quality rating is a measure of how many units of your product are returned under warranty. If approximately 2% of your sales are returned under warranty then your rating will be approximately 0.50, but if you can reduce it to approximately 0.3% of your sales being returned under warranty then your quality rating will rise to 0.90. In MikesBikes the only control you have over quality is how much money you allocate to your quality improvement budget each year.

Delivery

Delivery is a measure of how often your retailers run out of stock of your bikes. A delivery performance rating of 1.0 means that your factory never stocks out of bikes, however if your factory stocks out of bikes this year, then next year your delivery performance rating will fall. The lower your delivery performance rating, the less likely that retailers will want to stock your bikes. However be careful, as some segments are more sensitive than others to stocking out.

Product Specs

The “product specs” rating is a measure of how close your product is to the segment’s ideal dimensions for “tech” and “style”. A rating of 1.0 means that your product is 100% what the segments wants, a rating of less than 1.0 means that it is not. As MikesBikes progresses you will be offered numerous product development projects that will improve the product spec ratings of your products, if your product spec ratings are lower than your competitors it means that they are spending more money on product development than you are.

Check out the last MikesBikes Intro Report Guide here:

Industry Benchmark Report