Stefan Michel

LEGO professor of management and innovation

Stefan Michel is LEGO Professor of Management and Innovation. He is Director of the Marketing Management course, and was Dean of the Executive MBA program at IMD from 2014 until 2022. He also teaches in the Digital Marketing Strategies (DMS) and High Performance Boards (HPB) programs, as well as on the EMBA program. specializes in customer-focused strategy, strategy execution, corporate governance, and pricing. He has particular expertise in marketing strategy and is the author of a practical guide on marketing impact and the writer of numerous case studies on the topic.

Michel believes that the key to a successful marketing strategy lies in an in-depth understanding of an organization’s customers. It is his belief that failing to understand your customers can waste marketing resources and create a useless strategy, leaving your company with lackluster results.

His book Real Impact Marketing, co-authored with Lisa Duke, helps decision makers improve the impact of their marketing efforts by aligning customer insights, value co-creation, value communication, and value capture, and provides a unique one-page marketing plan summarizing the actions a company can take to achieve this objective.

When done right, marketing has the ability to make a real impact. But it needs fuel from customer insights, value communication, and strategies powered by consumer behavior. Without them, you’ll build your marketing efforts on shaky ground.

While most marketing textbooks discuss marketing instruments and managerial frameworks, but fail to link these elements to real impact, this book takes a very practical approach and focuses on the real and visible impact that marketing can have. Based on years of interacting with executives about what they need to know to deliver results effectively, the book – now in its third edition – is intended as a guide for all business leaders on the contribution that marketing can make to a firm’s success.

Michel has also written several other books and book chapters on the topic, along with numerous newspaper articles and academic articles that have appeared in journals including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

He has directed or taught in IMD custom programs for more than 70 organizations, including ABB, Adecco, AGC, Aggreko, Air France KLM, Allianz, AXA, CLP, CMS, Coca Cola, Commerzbank, Danske, Deloitte, DNB, Ericsson, EY, Everbright, Evonik, Hertz, Holcim, IBM, ISS, JTI, Liberty Seguros, Maersk, NCC, Nestlé, Nilfisk-Advance, Novartis, Pon, PwC, Rexel, Securitas, Siemens, Skanska, Sulzer, Svitzer, Swiss Post, Swisscanto, TUI, Visa and Wolseley.

When advising executives and entrepreneurs on marketing strategy, Michel says they should focus on three points:

  • First, answer the question, “What the heck is going on?” Avoid getting lost in the details of the market analytics and trend reports. Instead, put all the pieces together to define the current external and internal context, and opportunities and risks.
  • Second, make sure that you discuss real choices that include some trade-offs and come with a risk and reward profile.
  • And finally, align all your actions with overcoming the biggest hurdles that your organization is facing.

Michel was also named on the Case Centre’s Top 50 Bestselling Case Authors list 2020/21 and has been recognized in several other case competitions.

He is a non-executive board member at publicly listed Swiss company Bossard and family-owned firm Peka-System, and is a strategy and marketing consultant for several Swiss top 50 companies and SMEs. He is also President of the Foundation Board of the Swiss Society for Marketing (Gesellschaft für Marketing GfM).

Before joining IMD in 2008, Michel was a tenured Professor of Global Marketing at Thunderbird School of Global Management in the United States, where he introduced a number of successful teaching innovations and received several awards for excellence in teaching. He previously worked as Professor of Marketing at the University of Applied Science in Lucerne and Lecturer of Marketing at the University of Zurich, University of Berne and SAWI Biel.

Selected publications
Book
Real impact marketing 3e: Create a 1-page marketing plan with better customer insights
Failing to understand your customers can waste marketing resources and create a useless strategy, leaving your company with lackluster results. And social media content and digital initiatives aren...
Published 4 April 2022
Article
Bill it, kill it, or keep it free?: B2B companies can seize new sales by charging for services they’ve been giving away
In tough times, companies hunt for new sources of profitability and growth, frequently ranging far beyond their traditional offerings. Yet in doing so, many of them overlook opportunities for gener...
Published 2 January 2019
Article
Capture more value: Innovation isn't worth much if you don't get paid for it
Businesses innovate constantly to create new value for customers. But unless they also revisit how they capture value, they might not be adequately compensated for those breakthroughs.¦A new framew...
Published 1 October 2014
Article
Service-logic innovations: How to innovate customers not products
The article focuses on value creation, which is defined by customer use, and a service-logic approach to innovation. Value propositions are created through an interaction of buyers and producers wh...
Published 1 May 2008
Article
An expanded and strategic view of discontinuous innovations: Deploying a service-dominant logic
The service-dominant logic (S-D logic) provides a novel and valuable theoretical perspective that necessitates a rethinking and reevaluation of the conventional literature on innovation. This liter...
Published 1 January 2008
Article
Why service recovery fails: Tensions among customer, employee, and process perspectives
The keys to effective service recovery are familiar to many throughout industry and academia. Nevertheless, overall customer satisfaction after a failure has not improved, and many managers claim t...
Published 1 January 2009
Article
The service recovery paradox: True but overrated?
The service recovery paradox refers to situations in which the overall satisfaction levels of recovered customers exceed those of customers who did not encounter any problemswith the initial servic...
Published 1 January 2008
Academic publications
Book
Real Impact Marketing
Published 9 April 2019
Article
Solution readiness: A guiding framework for supplier firms
Many suppliers follow the trend of offering business solutions prematurely. In this paper, the concept of "solution readiness" is hence explored, drawing on in-depth interviews with 23 solution sup...
Published 1 April 2013
Insight for Executives
Article
Strategically pay your customers for their productivity
Your customers want to work for you. They are willing to help you with everything from innovation to generating additional revenue. The question is how. From 1,723 articles on co-creation, we extra...
Published 1 September 2020
Article
Bill it, kill it, or keep it free?: B2B companies can seize new sales by charging for services they’ve been giving away
In tough times, companies hunt for new sources of profitability and growth, frequently ranging far beyond their traditional offerings. Yet in doing so, many of them overlook opportunities for gener...
Published 2 January 2019
Article
8 reasons companies don't capture more value
In general, companies don’t devote enough time to thinking about value capture.Their innovation efforts tend to be focused wholly on the creation of new value; meanwhile, the question of how exactl...
Published 8 April 2015
Article
Let your customers segment themselves by what they’re willing to pay
If you’re out to capture more value, one surefire tactic is to figure out a way to charge different prices to customers with different willingness-to-pay (WTP). Economists sometimes call this “pric...
Published 11 March 2015
Article
Erschliessen Sie ihrem Unternehmen neue Werte
Die richtige Verwertung neuer Ideen ist so wichtig wie die Innovation selbst. Denn was bringen die tollsten Produkte, wenn keiner für sie bezhalt?
Published 1 February 2015
Article
Capture more value: Innovation isn't worth much if you don't get paid for it
Businesses innovate constantly to create new value for customers. But unless they also revisit how they capture value, they might not be adequately compensated for those breakthroughs.¦A new framew...
Published 1 October 2014
Article
Service-logic innovations: How to innovate customers not products
The article focuses on value creation, which is defined by customer use, and a service-logic approach to innovation. Value propositions are created through an interaction of buyers and producers wh...
Published 1 May 2008
Article
The upside of falling flat
The article discusses the venture by fast-food giant McDonald's to build and operate two four-star hotels in Switzerland in 2001. The hotels were sold in 2003 because they were not successful. The ...
Published 1 April 2007
Real Impact Marketing
Programs
On campus
Orchestrating Winning Performance

Reset for sustainable and inclusive growth

IMD's signature program, OWP, brings you the latest business trends, thought leadership and insights to revitalize your business, drive innovation and lead you forward. Fully customizable schedule. For executives and teams.

Location: Lausanne Length: 5 days Fee: CHF 10,900 Next start: 26 June 2023
On campus
Executive MBA

Growth starts with you

Develop the skills to excel as a senior global leader. The transformative core of the IMD Executive MBA is what makes it truly unique among EMBA programs. You will go far beyond your current situation, discovering new dimensions of yourself as a reflective leader, delivering much greater impact at the personal and professional levels.

Location: Lausanne Length: 15 months Fee: CHF 115,000
On campus
Master of Business Administration

Let purpose power your future

Develop reflective and responsible leadership skills as you gain the knowledge you need to maximize your career impact, succeed in a rapidly evolving world and make sustainable impact in your organization and society.

Location: Lausanne Length: One year Fee: CHF 97,500 Next start: 12 January 2023
On campus
Foundations for Business Leadership

Successfully navigate the complexity of general management

Immerse yourself in an intense, highly experiential setting, exposing you to the most current business challenges you will face as general manager. Your cross-disciplinary journey will include IMD’s award-winning business cases, plus business simulations, integrative exercises, cutting-edge live cases, dynamic guest speakers, expert faculty and coaching.

Location: Lausanne Length: 3 weeks Fee: CHF 25,000 Next start: 6 November 2022
On campus
High Performance Boards

How board directors make a real difference

Inspired by the latest research and drawing on more than 40 years of board education experience, High Performance Boards examines issues related to supervisory board performance and effectiveness.

Location: Lausanne Length: 3 days Fee: CHF 12,500 Next start: 28 November 2022
On campus
Digital Marketing Strategies

Master the skills of online-offline marketing

Learn how to create, capture and deliver value in a digital world.

Location: Lausanne Length: 5 days Fee: CHF 9,900 Next start: 24 October 2022