Fall 2014 Course Outline

Welcome to MKTG 555. Here are a few things about the class that may be helpful to know ahead of time.

Course Objective:

This class is designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to take academic frameworks and use them to develop, plan and execute a Customer Acquisition Strategy for a product that does not currently exist.

This is a class on Entrepreneurial Marketing, so we will be focused on how to develop strategies around Customer Discovery, Customer Validation and Customer Acquisition. We will not be focused on “building a company” as much as we will be focused on identifying and reaching potential customers.



We’ll use a book by Steve Blank entitled, “The Four Steps to the Epiphany,” as a guide. The cheapest way to buy it is via Amazon, and you can choose Kindle, Hardback or Paperback. (And no, I don’t make an Amazon Affiliate commission on that link, but yes, that would be a smart entrepreneurial thing to do.)

If you are really interested in joining a start-up, I’d also recommend you getting, “The Lean Start-Up” by Eric Ries. We won’t use it, but most people you meet in the start-up world will be familiar with it.



In a real entrepreneurial marketing organization, you would be evaluated on your ability to develop a solid strategy, execute what is expected by your management team, produce quality content and materials to promote your brand, do your part to make your team better, analyze data to make good decisions quickly and adapt your plans as necessary. We’ll try to replicate that experience in this 10 week classroom setting. You’ll be evaluated on the following assignments:

  • Individual articles on the MKTG 555 public facing blog in which you take a look at certain marketing facets of entrepreneurial organizations that interest you.
  • An individual paper in which you interview an entrepreneur and give your advice on a problem they are facing, based on your ability to look at their situation.
  • If all goes well, we will have a couple of real life “case studies” to work on as groups, where you will get to hear directly from the company how they solved the problem.
  • Participation in your group’s Customer Acquisition Strategy, which will be delivered in front a panel of entrepreneurs and marketers the final week of the quarter.
  • Your in-class or social media participation that brings value to the overall learning experience of the class.

Note: You have a Final Presentation to deliver the last day of class. But you will be working on the project throughout the quarter, and the final presentation is simply a recap of your learnings throughout the 10 weeks.


The Class Format

The first week of class, each student will get one minute to pitch an idea they have for a new product. We’ll vote on 8 to move forward with, and self-select into 8 groups.

Then each week, the class will be split into 3 parts:

  • A guest panel with expertise in the topic area we are studying, moderated by one of the 8 groups.
  • A conversation about the group or individual assignment you worked on during the week.
  • A lecture introducing a new topic area.

Common question: Why do student groups moderate the panels?

Answer: I have found that if you ask a speaker to come to class and give their standard presentation, you get a lot of information about the product they are working on and less education about the topic we are covering. But if the students themselves are responsible for choosing the questions, we get a lot of info that is really useful.

Common question: Why do we post our assignments to a public blog?

Answer: I have found that UW students produce high quality content, and you can learn a lot from your fellow students. Also, most smart start-ups will notice if you write an online profile on them, so it’s a great opportunity to “introduce yourself” to any start-ups you’d like to know.


UW MKTG 555 Fall 2014 Course Outline

(Subject to alteration)


9/30 – Week 1: From Class Intro to Finding the market

Guests: Former students and other people in the Seattle start-up scene talk about the state of entrepreneurship in Seattle.

In Class: New Company Pitches, Voting and Team Construction

Lecture: The Steve Blank Customer Development Model and Lean Startup Methods, Market Analysis, Market Identification and Segmentation

Homework: GROUP – Set up group. Choose a week to present. Pick a team name. INDIVIDUAL – Set up WordPress presence. Write one post identifying a start-up in the Geekwire 200 and what market segment they are going after.



 10/7 – Week 2: From Finding the Market to Building a Basic Online Presence – Websites, social media, blogging, video

Guests: Discussing Market Analysis and Positioning.

In Class Discussion: Homework 1 and groups

Lecture: How to build a cheap and effective presence online using WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Social Media channels, etc…

Homework: GROUP – Set up an online presence


10/14 – Week 3: From Building an Online Presence to Refining Your Positioning and Storytelling

Guests: Web experts giving advice on any problems the groups had getting their web presence launched

In Class: Show off your online presence

Lecture: Who are you? What is your story? Why do you exist? Look at other stories

Homework: INDIVIDUAL – Pick a company in your product’s general market. Try to identify the story they are telling customers. If they don’t have one, what could it be?


10/21 – Week 4: From Refining Your Positioning and Storytelling to Leveraging PR and Community Management

Guests: Web experts giving advice on any problems the groups had getting launched

Lecture: Outbound marketing strategies and tactics, editorial calendars, budgeting, agile marketing plan

In Class: Class Show and Tell




 10/28 – Week 5: From Leveraging PR and Community Management To Developing an Outbound Marketing Campaign with ads, social media, pr, events, sales and more

Guests: PR professionals and reporters

In Class: TBA

Lecture: Outbound marketing strategies and tactics, editorial calendars, budgeting, agile marketing plan

Homework: GROUP – Build a campaign on FB, Google, Bing, LinkedIn, etc…


11/4 – Week 6: From Developing an Outbound Marketing Campaign to Creating Retention and Referral Strategies

Guests: Advertising professionals

In Class: Look at results of your campaigns

Lecture: Retention and Referral strategies

Homework: Look at a company you are a customer of and analyze how they keep you and encourage you to promote their product to others.


11/11 – Week 7: From Creating Retention and Referral Strategies to Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans

Guests: Talking retention and referral

In Class: TBA

Lecture: Pricing Strategies and types of distribution


11/18 – Week 8: From Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans to Developing a Fundraising Plan

Guests: Talking Pricing and Distribution

In Class: TBA

Lecture: Raising Money via Crowdfunding, Angels or VC’s


11/25 – Week 9: From Developing a Fundraising Plan to Getting Ready to Present Your Plan

Guests: Angel investors and VC’s

In Class: TBA

Lecture: Recap the course


12/2 – Week 10: Final Presentation / Discussion

Guests: Four entrepreneurial marketers

In Class: Presentations and Discussion



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