Smartsims provides Business Simulations which run in a web-browser and are used for teaching in tertiary or higher education courses.
These are period or turn based simulations where you make decisions for an entire year, and then the simulation performs a ‘rollover’ to calculate the results of your decisions. You will then analyze the reports to see how well your company performed, make new decisions, and then the simulation rolls over again.
What are the accessibility features in the Smartsims’ Simulations?
We have developed a guide to explain our accessibility features for users with visual, hearing or mobility impairments and how these interact with assistive technologies such as screen readers (JAWS and NVDA) and pointing devices.
If you have a physical or learning disability and require additional assistance please contact us. Our team will work with you to provide any additional support or just be there to answer any questions you may have. We can also arrange a phone call to answer your questions if that is easier for you.
Our VPAT / WCAG Documentation
Contact us to obtain our VPAT documentation which summarize our compliance with WCAG 2.0 and the revised Section 508 standards for the MikesBikes Introduction to Business Simulation, Music2Go Marketing Simulation and the AdSim Advertising Simulation.
This has been a long-term project focused on modernizing the interface and decisions, making the user experience more intuitive and improving student’s user experience.
The new interface and navigation experience is built around a new onboarding process, a new company dashboard and decision screens which provide students with relevant information when they need it. We believe these changes will expedite students becoming power users, and therefore, accelerate learning outcomes.
A New Onboarding Experience
When students first log in, and after each rollover, they are provided with information for the year ahead and a short explainer video to help them get started.
And after a rollover key results are displayed:
The New Company Home Page
Students now have a new company dashboard as the default start page:
The Home Page features company info, KPIs, quick links to product decisions and new decisions, key reports and relevant videos for the year ahead.
Top Menu Navigation
A modern top-menu navigation system groups decisions into logical, functional decision areas.
Select menu items feature a drop-down to access a sub-menu:
Intuitive Decision Screens
Our improved decision screens feature information, results and reports all relevant to the decisions they are making on that specific screen. Also, our integrated Live Forecast at the top-right.
Our New Help Widget
The new Help widget includes a search feature, screen-specific FAQs and videos, and links to updated articles, Player’s Manual and access to the Smartsims Support Team.
Improved Report Menu & Reports
An easier to use approach to the Reports menu, sorted by functional area and each includes a description to help students Updated reports and a new search feature.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions please contact us.
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that everyone in the Smartsims team is healthy and safe. We have been and will continue to follow all recommended government and professional guidelines to keep things that way. Our simulations, servers and networks remain unaffected.
The impact of COVD-19 will require many of you currently running a simulation to make changes to your schedules. Just let us know so we can postpone or re-schedule any upcoming events for your course.
I understand most university and college faculty around the world are now facing the challenge of transitioning their business courses to online delivery. As we already have a large number of online and hybrid courses, we are well placed to support you in any way we can. There are a range of options available to make this transition as easy as possible. Contact our team to discuss this further.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best.
Thank you for your continued support!
Ian McPherson Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
This article will be a three-part series introducing the market segments in Music2Go Marketing Business Simulation. In this article, we’ll be talking about the Standard Segment.
Market Segments in Music2Go Marketing
There are three market segments in Music2Go – Standard, Youth, and Sports (Multi-Player only).
These segments have different sizes, projected growth, sensitivity to price, advertising, distribution, and product specs.
You start with a single MP3 Player product in the Standard market segment. Starting in Year 3 (after 2nd rollover) you may improve your existing product and/or launch additional products into new market segments (up to a maximum of 4 products by Year 6). Part of the challenge of Music2Go is in being able to balance the needs of your products within your limited marketing budget.
Consumers in this segment tend to be less active than those in the Sports segment and thus do not require the high level of technological specifications inherent in sports designs. While young adults in this segment share the purchasing ability of their sports counterparts, they are more price conscious, which is reflected in the relative pricing between these two segments.
Medium priced ($85 – $100) with high price sensitivity
Price range is $40 to $120, but the recommended range is $85 to $100.
Medium sensitivity to advertising
High sensitivity to distribution coverage
Low sensitivity to product specifications
Consumer style / tech spec preferences change slowly, so segment moves
slowly on perceptual map.
Since consumers in this segment are highly price sensitive, you can expect some price competition. Plan for this with cost reduction projects to maintain acceptable unit margins. However, be careful of engaging in a price war. No one wins a war. This is the slowest moving segment and has low sensitivity to product specs. So you may only require a single product spec improvement project midway through the simulation to remain competitive. It is the largest of the three segments but has minimal underlying growth.
You will be selling a single Standard Segment music player in the first two years of the simulation. After the 2nd rollover you may launch additional products into the Youth and Sports segments (Multi-Player only).
Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster.
Who likes making mistakes? Majority of us probably don’t like making one or try our best to avoid it.
In school, we always thrive to do the best we can to avoid making mistakes in our exams or essays to avoid failing.
At work, would you hire someone who says they often make mistakes or promote someone who constantly does? Majority of employers probably wouldn’t.
Here at Smartsims Business Simulations, we believe that we often learn best and the most when we fail, and make mistakes. This allows us to look back, analyze what and where we have gone wrong and restart. If there’s an opportunity, we can also get feedback from our mistakes. This gives us a brand new start to take action and hopefully never make the same mistake again.
However, realistically, we seldom get a second shot to do all these, right? Professors in universities will rarely allow you to redo an exam you already failed. You won’t get another shot of winning that soccer match you already lost. You would lost an opportunity to get promoted if you missed your quota.
Good news is with Smartsims Business Simulations, failure and mistakes are encouraged!
The foundation of simulation-based learning is that we learn by doing. Our objective is to give students an opportunity to have their own business experience, and mirror what it’s like in the real world. This allows them to take responsibility over their own learning and become personally engaged with the content. They get to manage their own company in a fun and safe environment, while allowing them to learn through trial and error, testing different decisions and strategies.
Every business simulation includes a practice and competitive application. Once students are familiar with the simulation format, their teams develop strategy and make key decisions for their organization. Students use real-time market and business reports to effectively analyze market conditions; develop strategy; and, evaluate the impact of their choices.
All our business simulations provide students with a platform to develop an understanding of business concepts, make strategic and critical decisions, and allow them to see the immediate impact of their decisions.
Here, failure is encouraged and allowed, so that they can try better approaches and methods.
Provide your students with a unique learning opportunity and take your course to the next level with Smartsims. Contact us to learn more.
Disruptor Daily featured Smartsims’ CEO, Dennis Gain to understand how Smartsims is using AI to transform education, and what the future of the education industry holds.
Smartsims began as we wanted to provide students with an experiential learning environment to bridge theories and concepts taught in class with real-life experience (you can read more about our history here).
We use Artificial Intelligence in our simulations through our use of robot competitors to replicate human competitors. This is most especially helpful in online courses that want to replicate a similar experience to students in campus.
One of the benefits of this for students is they are able to demonstrate working in team environments, exemplify an understanding of business problem-solving and fully represent themselves as capable professional candidates.
Devon Palmer (pictured above), a student of Professor Harold Lowe from Nova Scotia Community College has previously used our MikesBikes Introduction simulation in his Business course. Upon completion, he was asked by Professor Lowe to also trial both Music2Go Marketing and AdSim Advertising simulations for his work placement.
The review below is written by Devon. He shares his point of view on the AdSim Advertising simulation and some advice on how to do well in the simulation. He also created a few videos on both Music2Go and AdSim business simulations, which you can watch at the end of his review.
“AdSim is a computer-based Advertising Simulation of the Digital Camera division of a Consumer Electronics Corporation. You get the opportunity to experience and understand many of the key decision required to plan and implement an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Plan.
AdSim will give you the opportunity to have practical hands on experience at making critical advertising decisions and seeing the outcome in a live, interactive case study.”
The goal of the AdSim simulation is to maximize your Cumulative Net Marketing Contribution.
How do you do this?
The first step is renaming your firm. This is available to you both in Single-Player as well as Multi-Player. Being able to make this decision gives the simulation a personal feel, rather than just being “Company #12452”. Your two market segments that you get to advertise and sell your product to are the Existing and New markets. Unlike other simulations that allow you to have multiple products in multiple market segments, AdSim only has the one camera that goes into the two segments.
As this is the advertising simulation, your main contribution is the Advertising Plan. Your main goal is to set your advertising budget and allocate it among the five areas; TV, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, and Interactive Digital Media. While other simulations, like MikesBikes or Music2Go, also give you this option, AdSim goes a step further allowing you to allocate within those five areas. This is more in-depth and a great addition, especially for an advertising class.
Within the TV advertising you may allocate to four segments, Network TV, National TV, Local Spot TV, and Cable TV. Even further, you can allocate your budget into the Network TV segment into six more segments. These range from Early Morning to Late Fringe times of day.
Newspapers have four segments as well, which include, General, Business, Tabloid, and Sunday.
You can also further allocate within the General segment to five geographical regions such as North and South East, North and South West, and Central.
Magazines have five categories that you can advertise in, Women’s Lifestyle, Men’s Lifestyle, Entertainment, Family, and News.
The Women’s and Men’s Lifestyle choice further breaks down into four more choices based on the age of the customer. These are, Youth 12-17, Adults 18-34, Adults 35-55, and Adults 55+.
Radio gives you six station formats to choose from, these are, Contemporary Hit Radio, Urban, Country, Rock, Adult Contemporary, and Newstalk.
The Country Station gives you the option of allocating your budget between the five geographical regions.
The Adult Contemporary Stations allocated between various peak listening times ranging from Morning Drive to Nighttime.
Finally, the Interactive segment is new and unknown in this simulation. It gives you two choices of allocation, Direct Mail and Internet. They recommend experimenting within this segment to see how effective it is.
After doing multiple simulations and seeing how the advertising plan selections work, I find that AdSim does it best out of all other Smartsims simulations I have used. The option to further allocate my budget into different areas is a great choice and would greatly benefit any other simulation. It is also very easy to use and understand as you just need to make sure your “pie-chart” equals 100%. Reading the reports for Chapter 2 of the Player’s Manual will put you in the right direction on how to effectively use each segment to their absolute best.
Another part of the AdSim simulation is the Agency Selection. Here you decide on either trusting yourself to choose your media selections in a custom plan. This is a high-risk, high-reward option in my opinion. As you may select the right numbers in the right segments, but if you don’t do that it can be disastrous. I recommend only using a Internal Plan if you do the research beforehand. The other three options for your agency include TV Magic, Print Works, and Radio Can. These have their obvious strengths in one area, or two in the case for Print Works, but are still better than the default plans for each segment. I recommend picking one of these three agencies as they will give you good results when used correctly.
This is where you pick how you want your digital camera to appear on the market, as well as who you want to target. You have four decisions to make in each of the four categories, Target, Benefit, Proof, and Personality.
To make these decisions all you have to do is click the one you want and then click “Apply.” Target is who you are targeting to sell your camera to – Professional, Amateur, Recreational, or Family. Then you select the Benefit of your camera, Simplicity, Small Size, Picture Quality, or Feature Packed. After selecting your Benefit, you will need to select the Proof, which are, Lens, Focus, Digital Chip, or Direct Printing. The final message you will convey to your customers is the Personality of your camera. The options include Simple and Reliable, Fun and Exciting, Precise and Efficient, or Thoughtful and Nostalgic.
There are reports you can read that give you an insight on which choices to make to maximize in your desired market. Like the other choices you are able to make, these are extremely easy to make and understand as its just a simple click to decide.
Customer Relationships is another feature made available during the simulation. The options for these screens are: CRM System, Warranty, Support, and Loyalty. When choosing your CRM System, you are given four options, to not have one at all, an Entry-Level, a Mid-Level, or a Custom system. These decisions require a bit more research than others, but by reading the chapter section about CRM, as well as the reports about it, will help you in making your CRM, if you choose to have one.
The Warranty selection give you the choice of what kind of warranty you’d like to offer to your customers: 90 days, 180 days, 1 year, or 2 years. Support is how your customers will go about fixing any issues with the product. This is offered by a manual, a website tool, an email helpdesk, or a telephone helpdesk. The last option is the Loyalty program. You can choose not to have one, having a regular newsletter, a regular photo contest, or offering a Photo School. Information on making these decisions are available in various market research reports.
Later in the simulation, you will be given the opportunity to make the Marketing Communications decisions. This gives you the option of four choices, Sales Promotions, Trade Promotions, Sponsorships, and Public Relations.
Sales Promotions give the customer something a little extra when purchasing your product over the competitors, for example a bonus memory card. Trade Promotions are similar to Sales Promotions but give benefits to a Retailer instead. Sponsorships are a way to boost exposure for your product at a specific event. Public Relations is hiring PR consultants to attempt to promote towards journalist interest into writing reviews about your product. Again, there are reports you can read to give insight into which options to choose and when choosing the options, they are straightforward and simple to make.
Market Research reports are available to purchase every year, with new and updated reports available every year. The price of these reports vary from $25,000 to $50,000 and can give you very valuable information that can help you win. Some reports are more important to buy than others, while some are not worth buying at all, so make sure you know what you’re looking for before purchasing.
I feel the price for these reports are very worth it, especially if you were to purchase a report you didn’t need or felt didn’t give you the right information. There are reports that the Player’s Manual recommends purchasing, and I completely agree as the information that is given is highly useful in dominating the market, especially early on.
In conclusion, I highly recommend the AdSim simulation by Smartsims for any class or business looking for business simulations that have a focus on Advertising. It gives you the right amount of content where it feels complete and spreads it out evenly throughout the rollovers.
For me personally, my class at NSCC Pictou would have greatly appreciated using this simulation during our first semester in our second year, as we had both an Advertising class as well as a Market Research class. It would have fit perfectly in our schedule as well as setting us up for our final semester where we challenged our Management counterparts to the MikesBikes simulation.
I give this simulation a 9.5/10 and again, highly recommend it to any classes or business that would like to use a business simulation to teach the fundamentals of advertising and its affect on the business.
Here are the videos that Devon created for both AdSim and Music2Go:
The Perceptual Map is a convenient way of visualizing the differences between the different market segments in terms of the different level of Style / Design and Technical Specifications that each of the market segments desire. The center of these circles represents an “ideal” product for each market segment. So demand for your products will be higher if they are closer to the center of these circles.
Segment Movement Over Time
The style/tech preferences of the market segments will change over time. The Standard Segment moves relatively slowly, the Youth Segment moves at a moderate rate and the Sports Segment moves quickly on the perceptual map.
What are the other common mistakes in Music2Go Marketing?
In Part Two, we’ll talk about the importance of reaching the right customers and how to better allocate your Sales Promotion Mix.
Here’s Part One of the article in case you missed it.
Mistake #4: Misunderstanding the Importance of Reaching the Right Customers
Not understanding this can be a costly mistake as it often leads to incorrectly assigning your Advertising Mix. This can have a negative impact on the demand for your products and can also lead to overspending. Meaning your firm’s profitability is at risk!
How do you know if you are spending your advertising budget inefficiently? Follow through this section, it will show you how to efficiently allocate your advertising budget.
Each market segment is sensitive to different dimensions. View the Market Information report.
How do I interpret this Product Dimension Sensitivities graph?
The best way to explain it is through an example. If you take the Standard segment, you’ll see it has a high sensitivity to Price. This means that an increase to your price (example setting the price to the maximum) is going to have a negative effect on your sales volume.
What these sensitivities mean is a change in any of these factors, will result in a proportionate change in the consumers’ demand for your product(s).
There are four media choices to develop your advertising mix on: Television, Newspapers, Magazines and Digital Media.
There are two substantial sources of information you can use to determine your optimal advertising mix for a given advertising spend: Advertising and PR Reach by Media Curve and Media Viewing Habits. Both information can be found in the Market Information report.
The best way to explain this would be to provide an example.
Example: Budget of $4 million on Standard Segment.
Option 1: 42% of the Standard Segment read magazines.
So our $4 million spend would reach approximately 90% (taken from the graph at a spend of $4 million) x 42% (Media Viewing Habits) = 37.8% of the Standard segment can be reached
Option 2: 85% of the Standard Segment can be reached via Digital Media.
So our $4 million spend would reach approximately 50% (taken from the graph at a spend of $4 million) * 85% (Media Viewing Habits) = 42.5% of the Standard segment
Option 3: But maybe we can do better than that still. What happens if we spend $2 million on Newspapers, and $2 million on Magazines?
If we spend $2 million on Newspapers, we could reach approximately 40% of Newspaper viewers and 58% of the Standard segment reads Newspapers. So we could reach approximately 40% (Media Viewing Habits) x 58% (taken from the graph at a spend of $2 million) = 23.2% of the Standard Segment.
If we spend $2 million on Magazines we could reach approximately 50% of Magazine viewers and 42% of the Standard segment reads Magazines. So we could reach approximately 50% (Media Viewing Habits) x 42% (taken from the graph at a spend of $2 million) = 21% of the Standard segment.
So, together our $4 million spent half on Newspapers and half on Magazines would reach approximately 44.2% of the Standard segment, which is obviously a better use of our Advertising budget than the first two options.
As you can see, with the same budget, but a different allocation towards each media channel can make a huge difference in the amount of consumers you can reach.
This is only an example of good and bad marketing mixes. This is far from the best mix you can make. We suggest playing around on different Marketing Mix and see what works best for your strategy and budget.
Mistake# 5: Inaccurately Allocating Your Sales Promotion Mix
Your Sales Promotion strategy will need to vary with the Life Cycle of your product. For instance, Trade Shows and Sales Force training will be important a new product launch, bur progressively less so as the product ages. Your existing product will be in the Mature phase of its life cycle for your first Sales Promotion decision (Sales Promotion decisions are available after the 1st rollover).
It is important that you get your Sales Promotion Mix right, because it helps boost your distribution coverage and distribution index. In addition, some segments are particularly sensitive to Distribution, such as the Standard Segment.
There are 6 types of Sales Promotion activities available to you to promote your products and support your distributors:
Point of Purchase Displays
So, how do I choose a Sales Promotion Mix for my products?
Remember that each of your products will progress through the Product Life Cycle starting in the Growth phase for new products and then gradually progressing through to the Decline stage over the next six rollovers.
Say we launch a new Youth product this period. This new product will start in the Growth phase of the Product Life Cycle (See Market Information Report > Sales Promotion). Then from looking at the tables above, we can see that our Ideal Sales Promotion Mix for a new Sports product is:
Trade Shows – 15%
Sales Force Training – 25%
Premium (Gifts) – 5%
Website and Social Media – 25%
Point of Purchase Displays – 25%
Rebates – 5%
Total = 100%
That was a simple example, but what happens in the second year that we sell this Youth product? The product will be moved from the “Growth” phase to “Growth – Starting to Mature.” So the optimal Sales Promotion mix will be 1/3 of the way between the ideal Growth and Mature figures in the Sales Promotion Table. That would give us an optimal Sales Promotion mix something like:
You should buy the Distribution Coverage and Sales Promotion Market Research report for detailed information on the Sales Promotion Rating and Stage of Product Life Cycle for all firms in the Industry.
“During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.
As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish. The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.
Again, the shark quickly attacked. This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off. Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail. Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition. Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.
This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.
The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack. The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.”
What do you think is the moral lesson of this story?
The lesson here is many of us give up after experiencing failures. Like the shark story, we believe that if we were unsuccessful in the past, then we will always be unsuccessful. We continue to see barrier in our heads, even when there are no “real” barriers.
So you are probably reading this article because you want to get out of a situation where you have made mistakes in the simulation and want to fix it, right? Good on you for crossing that barrier!
Mistake #1: Not purchasing Market Research Reports
We cannot reiterate enough how important this is. Many students want to “save” their budget and invest it in other areas in the simulation. However, knowledge is power and by investing in these paid reports, you are making more informed decisions.
Mistake #3: Misunderstanding the Importance of Pricing Products Correctly
Price is usually a key determinant of demand and is the most critical component to maximizing your revenue. Therefore, carefully thinking about your Pricing strategy is important as this would have an impact on the demand for your products.