Marco Bertini

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Foremost Authority on Strategies That Build and Sustain Revenue; Leading Expert on Creating and Sharing Value with Customers; Co-author, “The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value” (MIT Press, September 2020); Professor of Marketing, Esade; Visiting Professor, Harvard Business School; Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group

Biography

Many companies have a great brand, product or service but still struggle to convert it into revenue that can fund future innovations, repay investors, and support social and environmental initiatives. This is the type of challenge Esade professor and business strategist Marco Bertini helps companies tackle every day.

Bertini, also a visiting professor in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School, is a foremost authority on creating and sharing value with customers. For years, he has been teaching firms – including AT&T, H&M, Coca-Cola, Procter and Gamble, Fox Networks, Novartis and Boston Consulting Group where he currently serves as Senior Advisor – how to capitalize on innovation and competitive advantage so they can effectively generate revenue and build stronger brands. His unique frameworks and insights – a rare blend of economics and psychology – form the basis for sustainable organic growth at organizations struggling to realize the full value of their commercial efforts and customer relationships.

In the Fall 2020 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, Bertini and his co-author, London Business School marketing professor Oded Koenigsberg, unveiled their newest framework which outlines three powerful business models that escape the tyranny of traditional “make and sell” transactions. The article draws on the authors’ latest research presented in their book, “The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value” (MIT Press, September 2020) which explores how modern technology stimulates accountability, challenging organizations to succeed on the quality of the outcomes they deliver rather than the specific offerings they bring to market.

“The way we see it, ‘impact’ data – and the technologies that deliver and analyze it – is transforming corporate accountability for customer outcomes from a fashionable marketing slogan into a strategic imperative,” says Bertini, who cautions companies not to dismiss this idea as a passing trend.

The new framework puts customers right at the center and shows how firms can best expose untapped market potential and “capture the lion’s share of the resulting value” by competing increasingly on customer outcomes rather than products and services. The authors argue that, for example, paying by the pill, semester, food item, vehicle, or theater act is a poor proxy for the health, education, nutrition, transportation, and entertainment customers actually seek from their purchases, and that business models anchored on these “old-school” metrics open themselves up to disruption.

This is really a story about technology,” says Bertini. “In the last ten years, market research has gone so far that we can now understand what, when and how customers are consuming and often what value they derive. This is an opportunity to flush out inefficiencies and significantly increase the value pie ultimately shared by customers and firms.”

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Marco Bertini has directly applied his methods as an advisor to leading companies such as ExxonMobil, IBM, Pfizer, P&G, Telenor, Vodafone, Young Presidents’ Organization and many others. His research appears in the leading journals for management science and practice, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science. His work and commentary are often featured in top media including the BBC, Financial Times, Strategy+Business, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Bertini received his doctorate from Harvard Business School and previously served on the faculty at London Business School. He has been nominated for the Business Professor of the Year award, a global competition held by The Economist Intelligence Unit, and recognized by the Marketing Science Institute as one of the most promising scholars in the field. Bertini was also named to the Thinkers 50 “Radar Thinker” list of the scholars “most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led” in 2017.

Marco Bertini is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Can We Afford Sustainable Business?

(MIT Press, September 2021)

The Pitfalls of Pricing Algorithims

(Harvard Business Review, August 2021)

The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value

(MIT Press, September 2020)

Competing on Customer Outcomes

(September 2020)

Do Promotions Make us Waste Food?

(ESADE, August 2020)

Carbon Footprinting and Pricing Under Climate Concerns

(Sage Journals, July 2020)

Green Products or Green Organisations? The Climate/Consumer Conundrum

(ESADE, May 2020)

A Novel Architecture to Monetize Digital Offerings

(Springer Link, February 2018)

Beyond Posted Prices: the Past, Present, and Future of Participative Pricing Mechanisms

(Springer Link, November 2017)

When It’s Time to Expand Beyond the Base

(September–October 2017)

When You Have to Choose Between Core and New Customers

(September 2017)

Dear CEO: 50 Personal Letters from the World's Leading Business Thinkers

(Bloomsbury Business, October 2017)

Can One Business Unit Have 2 Revenue Models?

(March 2015)

When Customers Help Set Prices

(June 17, 2014)

When Selling Digital Content, Let the Customer Set the Price

(November 18, 2013)

Holiday Discounts Are a Dangerous Drug

(November 23, 2012)

Pricing to Create Shared Value

(June 2012)

Do Social Deal Sites Really Work?

(May 2012)

Choice Helps High-End Products, Hurts Low-End Products

(December 07, 2011)

Pricing the Priceless

(July 20, 2011)

Time for a Unified Campaign?

(June 2011)

The Upstart’s Assault

(July–August 2010)

How to Stop Customers from Fixating on Price

(May 2010)

A-Z Name

Bertini, Marco

Biography

Many companies have a great brand, product or service but still struggle to convert it into revenue that can fund future innovations, repay investors, and support social and environmental initiatives. This is the type of challenge Esade professor and business strategist Marco Bertini helps companies tackle every day.

Bertini, also a visiting professor in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School, is a foremost authority on creating and sharing value with customers. For years, he has been teaching firms – including AT&T, H&M, Coca-Cola, Procter and Gamble, Fox Networks, Novartis and Boston Consulting Group where he currently serves as Senior Advisor – how to capitalize on innovation and competitive advantage so they can effectively generate revenue and build stronger brands. His unique frameworks and insights – a rare blend of economics and psychology – form the basis for sustainable organic growth at organizations struggling to realize the full value of their commercial efforts and customer relationships.

In the Fall 2020 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, Bertini and his co-author, London Business School marketing professor Oded Koenigsberg, unveiled their newest framework which outlines three powerful business models that escape the tyranny of traditional “make and sell” transactions. The article draws on the authors’ latest research presented in their book, “The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value” (MIT Press, September 2020) which explores how modern technology stimulates accountability, challenging organizations to succeed on the quality of the outcomes they deliver rather than the specific offerings they bring to market.

“The way we see it, ‘impact’ data – and the technologies that deliver and analyze it – is transforming corporate accountability for customer outcomes from a fashionable marketing slogan into a strategic imperative,” says Bertini, who cautions companies not to dismiss this idea as a passing trend.

The new framework puts customers right at the center and shows how firms can best expose untapped market potential and “capture the lion’s share of the resulting value” by competing increasingly on customer outcomes rather than products and services. The authors argue that, for example, paying by the pill, semester, food item, vehicle, or theater act is a poor proxy for the health, education, nutrition, transportation, and entertainment customers actually seek from their purchases, and that business models anchored on these “old-school” metrics open themselves up to disruption.

This is really a story about technology,” says Bertini. “In the last ten years, market research has gone so far that we can now understand what, when and how customers are consuming and often what value they derive. This is an opportunity to flush out inefficiencies and significantly increase the value pie ultimately shared by customers and firms.”

# # #

Marco Bertini has directly applied his methods as an advisor to leading companies such as ExxonMobil, IBM, Pfizer, P&G, Telenor, Vodafone, Young Presidents’ Organization and many others. His research appears in the leading journals for management science and practice, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science. His work and commentary are often featured in top media including the BBC, Financial Times, Strategy+Business, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Bertini received his doctorate from Harvard Business School and previously served on the faculty at London Business School. He has been nominated for the Business Professor of the Year award, a global competition held by The Economist Intelligence Unit, and recognized by the Marketing Science Institute as one of the most promising scholars in the field. Bertini was also named to the Thinkers 50 “Radar Thinker” list of the scholars “most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led” in 2017.

Marco Bertini is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

This selection of speech topics can be presented in keynote or workshop format. Click here to explore additional speaking topics.

How to Turn Strategy Into Lasting Revenue

Every business has to price what it sells. It is inescapable, yet deeply misunderstood. In fact, while organizations ultimately exist to satisfy customers and earn revenue from them, many leaders fail to think wholistically about this challenge. In this presentation, monetization expert Marco Bertini talks broadly about the “mission” of a successful revenue strategy and lays out an intuitive framework to drive immediate improvement in any organization. Above all, this framework rests on one basic premise: a business cannot improve its ability to profit from customers unless its decisions and actions are guided by customers—what they value, why they value it, when and how they value it, and so on. This logic is intuitive, yet seldom put into practice.

Competing on Customer Outcomes

Technology is rewriting the rules of commerce. In our era of mobile and cloud computing, the internet of things, advanced analytics, and micro-transactions, enhanced transparency is putting pressure on organizations to profit from the actual value they provide, not from what they make. Today, accountability is no longer a fashionable marketing slogan, but a strategic imperative. Customers demand it: they struggle to understand what their money buys them, and technology empowers them to challenge the promises that businesses make. Similarly, many startups tout accountability as a means to stand out from tired incumbents. In this presentation, based on his book with Oded Koenigsberg, “The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value,” Marco Bertini uses examples from sectors as diverse and consequential as health care, automotive, education, media, and mining to map the gradual but relentless evolution of markets to a point where money flows to proof rather than promises. He helps organizations not only grasp the fundamental challenges of this revolution, but also transform what is essentially economic waste into tangible value that market players can share.

Listen Closely: Your Algorithms Are Talking to Your Customers

In June 2017, London police cars responded to reports of a terrorist attack. Pedestrians and pub-goers in the area sensed danger and attempted to order Uber cars to head home to safety. Uber’s dynamic pricing algorithm caused rates in that part of the city to jump more than 200%. While an economist might applaud Uber’s pricing engine, Marco Bertini – Esade professor, business strategist and leading expert on creating and sharing value with customers – says constant changes in price points can negatively impact brand perception, so they need to be carefully managed. In this presentation, based on his Harvard Business Review article “The Pitfalls of Pricing Algorithms,” Bertini shows why brands need to consider more than simple math when employing algorithmic systems. He further helps leaders across industries – including advertising, e-commerce, entertainment, insurance, sports, travel and utilities – minimize risk and maximize revenue while also making customers feel as if they have paid the appropriate amount for a product or service.

Can We Afford Sustainable Business?

Businesses are struggling with the economics of making sustainable products both affordable and profitable, but that’s because they aren’t asking the right questions. Leaders looking to move beyond “how are we going to pay for this?” need to stop thinking about price simply as a bar that they can prod up or down to get customers to buy less or more. Every price decision is comprised of additional, more strategic choices that can rally market actors around responsible behaviors and, therefore, mitigate the negative externalities of commerce before companies are forced to price them in. In this presentation, based on his powerful Fall 2021 MIT Sloan Management Review article, Esade marketing professor Marco Bertini, a renowned expert on shared value strategies, explains how leaders in every sector can achieve this by creatively rethinking the “what,” “who,” “when” and “how” embedded in every price decision. Ultimately, he argues, organizations should be caretakers of markets rather than simple producers. By using the incentives and information embedded in the price mechanism, they can allocate the responsibility for broader and fairer access, for conscientious and effective consumption, and for handling waste more efficiently.

Selling Value to Customers

At the heart of every selling strategy lies the need to communicate value to customers and defend one’s price. Indeed, Marco Bertini subscribes to the belief that price is seldom a problem when the value of an offering is clearly understood by sellers and buyers alike. In this presentation, Bertini discusses the complications that often arise when an organization tries to sell value in a market plagued by customers who, strategically or otherwise, are skeptical. To remedy the situation, Bertini offers a roadmap with five clear actions. In this interactive presentation, he reveals how to achieve a better understanding of what value means to customers and how firms can be true to their promises. Implementing this roadmap gives a sense of calibration and confidence that helps fight off the pressure imposed by clients and competitors. Organizations that “stay calm and sell value” see immediate returns, followed by sustained growth and profitability. Bertini’s framework is therefore a recipe to capitalize on value creation, particularly in markets where innovation and creativity are fast-paced and expensive.

 

 

Media

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Books & Research

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Workshops

Marco Bertini is available for interactive workshops based on his presentation topics. Workshops typically begin with a presentation, which Bertini then expands to include feedback and discussion with the audience. The specific format of a workshop varies based on the size and composition of the audience: a small, intimate group of senior executives engages freely with Bertini, asking any questions they desire and exploring specific aspects of the topic in greater depth, while larger groups experience a more structured exercise based on the subject. Each workshop is tailored to the sector and made relevant to the goals of the organization.

Recommendations

Advance Praise for “The Ends Game”

“Digital technologies are transforming every business but the core principle of value creation endures: take care of the customer. But how? Bertini and Koenigsberg provide managers an insightful roadmap based on careful research and lively examples.”

— Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor, Stanford University; co-author of “The Second Machine Age”

“In order for organizations to justify a ‘forever transaction’ with the customers they serve, they need to start by aligning their goals with those of the customer. Only by putting the customer at the center of everything they do can organizations maximize value creation. Before hopping on the bandwagon of the latest pricing scheme, read this book to understand the bigger picture.”

— Robbie Kellman Baxter, Founder, Peninsula Strategies; author of “The Membership Economy” and “The Forever Transaction”

“‘The Ends Game’ elevates our current understanding of pricing to the next level. The book is simultaneously rigorous and practical, and belongs on any executive’s shelf.”

— Hermann Simon, Founder and Honorary Chairman, Simon-Kucher & Partners

“Consumers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems. Products are a means to an end. This book highlights this simple but powerful idea, and explains its implications for business practices. A timely and must-read book.”

— Sunil Gupta, Edward W. Carter Professor of Business, Harvard Business School; author of “Driving Digital Strategy”

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