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Which is better, cost leadership, integration, or differentiation?

Simply put, none of the above. The game does not seem to favor any particular strategy over another. Your results will be a product of how well you implement the strategy you designed (did you keep your costs down, did you realistically price your shoes, etc) and a product of competitive forces encountered (did your competitors offer similar shoes, what were their prices, etc). However, there is one simple formula that should help you to achieve fairly consistent good results. For more on that and more on how to balance your costs, perhaps you should consider buying the study guide.

Is there a strategy that will always win?

Yes and no. The study guide approaches with two points of view: business strategy and game strategy. Business strategy deals with the subject covered in question 1 above. Business strategy, of course, relates to the stuff you have been learning in class and is supposed to be the main focus of the game.

However, game strategy is a completely different subject. The fact that you are being scored is extremely significant. The study guide explains why this is and contends that your game strategy is more important than the business strategy you adopt. Without a well conceived game strategy, it will be tough to win no matter how awesome your business strategy is implemented. But you can relax because the study guide will show you some very simple ways to improve your score, regardless of business strategy. This should give you a gigantic edge over competitors that don’t see it.

Is there a system to beating the game?

No. But there are simple ways to increase your score in a huge way. Implementing some of these things will not only increase your score, but the reciprocal event should occur…you will royally screw the competition and often times they will never even understand why they are getting screwed! The first time I played, we played against 10 other teams, each made up of four intelligent people who were specialists in various areas (marketing, finance, accounting, management, IT, etc). Our final score was 99, the next best scores were: 74, 60, 54, 39, 35, 30, 24, 11, 9, 4! I’m pretty sure the professor had never seen anything like that. We took a ton of smart folks and spanked their little bottoms like a bunch of children.

How can I increase my game score?

Sorry, buy the guide!

How important is image?

Most often image can make the difference between winning and losing. The question is how high the average image ratings are and what teams are paying to achieve said ratings.

Is there a way to know how much to bid on celebrities?

Yes, good news, yes. There is a simple method to create a ballpark figure. Excessive bidding screws the bidder and under bidders will not land celebrities. The study guide explains a very simple method to arrive at dollar figure. Using this method, you probably won’t land celebrities if there are too many excessive bidders, but it won’t matter because they will probably go bankrupt.

How important is finance in this game?

Very, very! The finance screen is deceptively simple looking. Don’t be fooled! If nothing else, how you approach finance will make the difference in how wide of a margin you win by.

How should I approach financial management?

Sorry, you must buy the guide if you want to know the very simple, yet very effective way to trounce competition through financial management!

How important is currency fluctuation?

Extremely important! This fact cannot be emphasized enough. The game intentionally blows the fluctuations out of proportion so that it plays a huge role! As a special bonus, when you purchase a copy of the study guide, you will also receive a free copy of Currency Made Easy! To use it, follow the simple instructions to enter data the spreadsheet wants and you will instantly be rewarded with a snapshot of shipping repercussions of currency fluctuations. Use of this guide can dispatch competitors with extreme prejudice!

How should I approach the Private Label Market?

Beware! Grave danger awaits the fool hearty approach. Of course, buy the guide if you want to know how you should use this market.

When should I issue bonds or stock and how much?

This question is critical, but, sorry, you have to buy the guide for the answer.

Should I expand? When and by how much?

No sense in being mysterious here. Yes, creating an economy of scale is very important and key to implementing an effective cost strategy. That much you’ve probably heard. But by how much and when? Sorry, buy the guide.

Group meetings are taking forever! Is there anyway to make them go faster?

Here are two free bits of advice. First, the official Player’s Guide that comes with the software is filled with details, making it tough for anyone to know everything. Divide the book into sections and have each group member be responsible for a section. This way you don’t have to waste time looking through the book when someone asks, "How much is the European tariff? What is the per shoe charge for upgrading delivery time from 3 weeks to 2 weeks?"

The second bit of advice is to buy the guide. In it you will find a tip on the division of labor that should decrease your meeting time to under an hour and a half (if you have to meet at all!). This tip is most likely precisely apposite of what you have been told when it comes to group meetings.

I can never seem to figure out a simple and consistent way to go through the process of making decisions! For instance, which screen should I start with, go to next, and so on?

Here is another free tip: start with the production screen (buy the guide for detailed instructions on what to do before you begin entering decisions). Build the quantity and quality you desire, then ship to where you want to sell shoes, then make your marketing decisions.