Step 01: Topic Selection

The first step in writing a good eMarketing Plan is to have a business or product that enthuses you and for which you can get detailed information, so you can avoid glittering generalities.  We offer these additional bits of advice in selecting a topic:

a.        Do pick a topic that has personal interest for you—a family business, a business or product you or a friend might want to launch, or a student organization needing marketing help.

b.        Do not pick a topic that is so large it can’t be covered adequately or so abstract it will lack specifics.

1.        Now to get you started on your marketing plan, list four or five possible topics and compare these with the criteria your instructor suggests and those shown above.  Think hard, because your decision will be with you all term and may influence the quality of the resulting marketing plan you show to a prospective employer.

In Question 1, a key factor students should consider in choosing a topic for their marketing plan is whether they can find enough useful information to provide the necessary detail in the completed plan.  For example, a plan done for an existing family business builds on an immediate base of past revenues, marketing activities, etc.  In contrast, a plan for a potential business a student is considering launching has no such base of information.  While instructors must be sensitive to the different data collection problems each of these two marketing plans face, both must avoid the “glittering generalities” problem when submitted.

Here are examples of successful marketing plans students have submitted for our classes:

•          Family business.  Sand and gravel business, small manufacturing shop, two-chair barber shop, summer resort.

•          Local small business.  Garage, flower shop, corner grocery, interior-design decorating shop.

•          Student organization or university activity.  Marketing club, campus blood drive, increasing attendance at college sporting events, student counseling center.

•          Potential business.  Internet café, healthy-food restaurant, graphic design shop, motorcycle shop.

•          Existing business.  Amazon, Apple, Boston Consulting Group, Comcast, Disney, Ford Motors, Google, JetBlue, McDonalds, Microsoft, P&G, Samsung, Simon Malls, Verizon, etc…

2.        When you have selected your marketing plan topic, whether the plan is for an actual business, a possible business, or a student organization, write the “company description” in your plan.

In Question 2, if the company already exists, the company description highlights the recent history and recent successes of the organization so students should seek to:

a.        Recent history.

1.        Provide a brief introduction about when the organization was founded (if relevant), identify who the founders or key management personnel are that will assist you, and define what product or service is to be marketed.

2.        Discuss what is unique about the company and its offering(s) that sets it apart from competitors.

b.        Recent successes.  Where possible, identify and briefly describe what recent activities or results show how the organization has been successful in terms of sales (dollars or units), market share, quality, new product introductions, and so on.

If the company or organization does not actually exist, students should seek to describe what is unique about the organization and its offerings that are likely to lead to its eventual success.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Enthusiastic students often pick marketing plan topics that are simply too grandiose to be completed in the time available—a new brand of car or a new airline to serve small U.S. cities.  A subtler problem—alluded to above—is in picking a marketing plan topic that requires an inordinate amount of effort to obtain useful data.  For this latter problem, when having students select a marketing plan topic, ask them to first write down 4 or 5 topic ideas and then 10 or 12 words for each topic about what key sources of information they need to obtain and where are they likely to obtain it.

Step 02: Mission Statement & SWOT
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 02: Mission Statement & SWOT

1.        When you have completed the draft of your own marketing plan, write a 600-word executive summary to go in the front of your own marketing plan.

Suggestions: In Question #1, students are asked to write a 600-word executive summary. This gives them a chance to practice a draft of an executive summary for their own marketing plan.  A sample 600-word executive summary for a marketing plan appears below.

FIVE-YEAR MARKETING PLAN FOR PARADISE KITCHENS, INC.

1.  Executive Summary

2.  Company Description

Paradise Kitchens was started in 1989 to develop and market Howlin’ Coyote Chili.

3.  Strategic Focus and Plan

Three key aspects of the company’s corporate strategy:

•          Mission/Vision.  Howlin’ Coyote Chili intends to market the highest-quality line of single serve and microwaveable Southwestern/Mexican-style frozen chili products.

•          Goals.

a.        Nonfinancial goals include: retaining its high quality image; entering 17 new metropolitan markets; achieving nationwide distribution in two convenience store or supermarket chains by 2012 and five by 2013; adding a new product line every third year; and being among the top five chili lines in one-third of the metro markets in which it competes by 2013 and two-thirds by 2015.

b.        Financial goals include: achieving a real growth in earnings per share of 8 percent per year over time; obtaining a return on equity of at least 20 percent; and having a public stock offering by 2013.

•          Core Competency and Sustainable Advantage.  Paradise Kitchens seeks to
(1) provide distinctive, high-quality chili and related products using Southwestern/Mexican recipes that appeal to and excite contemporary tastes and
(2) use effective manufacturing and distribution systems that maintain high quality standards to deliver its products to consumers.

4.  Situation Analysis

An analysis of Paradise Kitchens’ marketing environment reveals:

•          SWOT Analysis.  The Company’s favorable internal factors are an experienced management team, excellent acceptance in its three metropolitan markets, and a strong manufacturing and distribution system.  Favorable external factors include increasing appeal of Southwestern/Mexican foods, a strong upscale market for the Company’s products, and a desire for convenience.  The main weaknesses are Paradise Kitchens’ small size relative to its competitors in terms of depth of management team, its limited financial resources to respond to growth opportunities and competitive actions, lack of national awareness and distribution of product lines, and lack of food processing expertise.  Threats include the danger that the Company’s premium prices may limit access to mass markets and competition from the eat-out and take-out markets.

•          Industry Analysis.  There is a rising trend in frozen foods in general and spicy and Mexican foods in particular.  The Mexican entree market represents over $506 million in annual sales of the $29 billion total frozen food sales due in part to the increase of the Hispanic population in the U. S., which reached 48 million and almost $978 billion in purchasing power in 2009.

•          Competitors in the Chili Market.  The chili market is also a $500 million market in the U.S. and is divided into two segments: canned chili, sold by Hormel, Dennison, Campbell’s, and others (75%), and dry chili, sold by Lowry’s, Stagg, etc. (25%).  Bush, a major marketer of beans, now sells chili in a glass jar.  Canned chili does not taste very good.  Dry chili requires consumers to add their own meat, beans, and tomatoes, taking more preparation time.

•          Company Analysis.  The principals of the firm have extensive consumer packaged food experience.

•          Customer Analysis.  Howlin’ Coyote households consist of one to three people.  Among married couples, both spouses work.  Although a majority of buyers are women, single men represent a significant segment.  Teenage boys devour it.  Because chili is a quick and tasty meal, the product’s biggest users tend to be those pressed for time.  Premium pricing also means that purchasers are skewed toward the higher end of the income range: $50,000 and above.  Buyers range in age from 25 to 54.  The high caloric level of much Mexican and Southwestern-style food has been widely reported and often exaggerated.  Less certain is any link between such reports and consumer buying behavior.  Therefore, while Howlin’ Coyote is lower in calories, fat, and sodium than its competitors, those qualities are not being stressed in promotion.  Instead, taste, convenience, and flexibility are stressed.

5.  Market-Product Focus

A five-year marketing and product objectives for Paradise Kitchens and Howlin’ Coyote chili includes:

•          Marketing and Product Objectives.  Paradise Kitchens will expand its brand at the retail level by increasing consumer awareness and repeat purchases, adding several new markets by Year 5, increasing food service sales, and adding new frozen food products.

•          Target Markets.  The primary market is 1 to 3 person households with incomes of at least $50,000.

•          Points of Difference.  Howlin’ Coyote chili is superior to those offered by competitors based on its taste, convenience, and packaging.

•          Positioning.  Howlin’ Coyote chili is both tasty and easily and quickly prepared for today’s consumer.

6.  Marketing Program

The marketing program applies the information summarized above, as shown below:

•          Product Strategy.  Emphasize high quality and flavor; packaging is distinctive art communicating out-of-the ordinary positioning.

•          Price Strategy.  Priced comparably with other frozen chili, higher than canned or dry—but worth it.

•          Promotion Strategy.  Use in-store demonstrations, recipes, and cents-off coupons.

•          Place (Distribution) Strategy.  Continue to use a food distributor until sales grow enough to justify shifting to a more efficient system using a broker.

7.  Financial Data and Projections

The marketing plan provides past sales revenues for 2001-2011 along with five-year financial projections for 2012-2016.

8.  Organization

The marketing plan also outlines an organization chart and staffing plan.

9.  Implementation Plan

Paradise Kitchens will use a five-year rollout schedule to enter new U.S. markets.  The plan will be monitored to assess whether minor modifications may be required in chili recipes for different metropolitan areas.  Comparing actual versus target monthly sales by metropolitan area will provide evaluation and control.  Tactical marketing programs will be modified to reflect unique factors in each area.

10.  Evaluation and Control

Actual case sales will be compared with monthly targets and tactical marketing programs modified to reflect the unique sets of factors in each metropolitan area.  The speed of the rollout program will depend on Paradise Kitchens’ performance in the metropolitan markets it enters.  Finally, Paradise Kitchens will respond to variations in regional tastes.

Appendix A.  Biographical Sketches of Key Personnel

Appendix B.  Detailed Financial Projections

2.        Using the above as a guide, to give focus to your own marketing plan, please do the following:
(a) writing your mission statement in 25 words of less, (b) listing three nonfinancial goals and three financial goals, (c) writing your competitive advantage in 35 words or less, and (d) doing a SWOT analysis table.

Suggestions: Question #2 asks students to get a jump start on writing their marketing plan by putting on paper their mission statement, non-financial and financial goals, competitive advantage for the organization, and a SWOT analysis.

3.        Draw a simple organization chart for your organization.

A.        Develop a Gantt chart to schedule the key activities to implement your marketing plan.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Our experience from working with thousands of students writing marketing plans is the need to encourage them to (a) get started and get something on paper and (b) be specific.  One way to accomplish this is to have students hand in a two-page draft of the start of their marketing plan containing the four items listed above in Question #2.

Step 03: Environmental Scan
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 03: Environmental Scan

Your marketing plan will include a situation analysis based on internal and external factors that are likely to affect your marketing program and an assessment of the affect of your plan on potential stakeholders.

1.        To summarize information about external factors, create a table and identify three trends related to each of the five forces (social, economic, technological, competitive, and regulatory) that relate to your product or service.

2.        When your table is completed, describe how each of the trends represents an opportunity or a threat for your business.

3.        Identify what, if any, ethical and social responsibility issues might arise for each type of stakeholder.

The most rigorous way to have students do an environmental scan for their marketing plan is to have them create a table with the following four columns: “Environmental Force,”  “Opportunities,” “Threats,” and “Resulting Trend.”  This forces students to think about implications of the trends for their business or product or service.  The environmental scan can give depth to the industry analysis, competitor analysis, and customer analysis portion of “Section 4: Situation Analysis.”

Not a part of a traditional marketing plan, the “stakeholder analysis” attempts to outline the potential impact on key stakeholder groups of potential future company actions reflected in the marketing plan.  For example, if a small manufacturer faces increasing environmental laws that can substantially increase costs, its effect on employees, suppliers, and customers might be described briefly.  Ideas from the stakeholder analysis may be woven into the plan’s situation analysis.

Helping with Common Student Problems

As with the SWOT analysis activity, students often end their analysis by simply listing the environmental trends in their environmental scan.  By having students add the “opportunities” and “threats” columns described above, they are forced to try to translate the trend into what it means for their marketing plan.  Sometime it suggests a specific action.  At other times, it suggests the student be aware of the trend, which may lead to actions in the future.

Step 04: Consumer Analysis
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 04: Consumer Analysis

To do a consumer analysis for the product—the good, service, or idea—in your marketing plan:

1.        Identify the consumers who are most likely to buy your product—the primary target market—in terms of (a) their demographic characteristics and (b) any other kind of characteristics you believe are important.

2.        Describe (a) the main points of difference of your product for this group and
(b) what problem they help solve for the consumer in terms of the first stage of the consumer purchase decision process.

3.        Identify the one or two key influences for each of the four outside boxes in (a) marketing mix, (b) psychological, (c) sociocultural, and
(d) situational influences.

This consumer analysis will provide the foundation for the marketing mix actions you develop later in your plan.

For existing businesses, a look at company records or scrutiny of customers, say, visiting the shop may provide specifics on the characteristics of the primary target market customers.  This may also suggest key new segments to try to reach.

What makes our product or service more desirable to potential customers than offerings of competitors?  These are the key “points of difference” that are the foundation for possible success for the product or service described in the student marketing plan.  Typically, these points of difference tie to a customer problem to be solved—a more convenient location, better service, higher-quality offering, and so on.

The influences that emerge in this step often become the basis for marketing mix decisions developed later in the student plan.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Student marketing plans often lack clear definitions of (a) the primary target market segments of customers and (b) points of difference.  Without these, the marketing plan quickly loses focus.

Step 05: Market Potential
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 05: Market Potential

Your marketing plan may need an estimate of the size of the market potential or industry potential for a particular product-market in which you compete.  Use these steps:

1.        Define the product-market precisely, such as ice cream.

2.        Visit the NAICS website at www.census.gov.

3.        Click “NAICS” and enter a keyword that describes your product-market
(e.g., ice cream).

4.        Follow the instructions to find the specific NAICS code and economic census data that detail the dollar sales and provide the estimate of market or industry potential.

If the marketing plan involves organizational markets, it is often useful first to determine the size of the market or industrial potential and then to assess the portion—or market share—that the organization might capture.  U.S. Census data is the most common source of information for this kind of analysis.  However, for most small businesses, this kind of analysis is of secondary importance.

Step 06: Going Global
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 06: Going Global

Does your marketing plan involve reaching global customers outside the United States?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include a global element in your plan.  If the answer is yes, try to identify the following:

1.        What features of your product are especially important to potential customers?

2.        In which countries do these potential customers live?

3.        What special marketing issues are involved in trying to reach them?

Answers to these questions will help in developing more detailed marketing mix strategies described in later chapters.

Special issues for students to consider if marketing a product to another country include:

1.        Regulations dealing with imports, including tariffs and quotas.

2.        Assistance programs from the World Trade Organization, U.S. government, or state trade office.

3.        Whether a website will be developed in the language of the targeted country.

4.        An assessment of the country’s values, customs, and symbols when developing the marketing mix.

5.        An assessment of any relevant economic (income, inflation, currency exchange rate, etc.) and infrastructure issues (communication, transportation, energy, distribution, etc.).

6.        Political stability.

7.        Market-entry strategy to be used.

8.        Whether the product will need to be adapted.

Step 07: Resource Prioritization
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 07: Resource Prioritization

To help you collect the most useful data for your marketing plan, develop a three-column table:

1.        In column 1, list the information you would ideally like to have to fill holes in your marketing plan.

Answers: Data sources were also touched on briefly in the Chapter 1: Building Your Marketing Plan when students were selecting a marketing plan topic.  Without some available data on the proposed plan, a different product, service, or organization should have been selected.  Some of these information needs may consist of market size, market share, or target market characteristics (demographics, usage, media, etc.).

2.        In column 2, identify the source for each bit of information in column 1, such as an Internet search, talking to prospective customers, looking at internal data, and so forth.

Answers: Some of these sources could include Census data, sales reports, mail survey of prospective customers, interviews with owners or managers, etc.

3.        In column 3, set a priority on information you will have time to spend collecting by rating them: 1 = most important; 2 = next most important; and so forth.  [Note: This is a 3-pt. scale.]

Answers: This three-column table never appears in the marketing plan itself.  But if done well, the tool can generate sufficient data upon which the marketing mix strategies are based.  Suppose a student team is developing a marketing plan an existing small, family-owned florist shop.  A portion of this three-column table might look as follows:

NEEDED INFORMATION

INFORMATION SOURCE

PRIORITY

•          Present target market customers (households and institutions)

•          Internal company records

3

•          Satisfaction and wants of present customers

•          Simple, 7-question survey

3

•          Potential target market customers (households and institutions)

•          Map and observation of potential customers in local retail trading area

2

•          Competitors

•          Yellow-pages; map of 15-mile radius retail trading area

2

•          Suppliers of flowers, other supplies

•          Yellow-pages; interview with owners

1

•          Cost of advertising media

•          Pricing of Yellow Pages ad, direct mail, local newspaper ad

3

•          Break-even data (rent, utilities, average selling price, etc.)

•          Interview with owners

3

This prioritizes the data collection tasks.  Inform students that some secondary data collection is necessary before a survey can be developed since the students need to have some understanding of the market and its environment.  Also, if students plan on collecting primary data, they need to allow for sufficient time to design the instrument, collect the data, analyze the data, and the develop marketing actions.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students writing marketing plans often have the classic problem of procrastinators—trying to collect and interpret the data the day before the plan is to be submitted to the instructor.  This needed data analysis step is intended to force students to anticipate the information required and to obtain it before the last minute.

Step 08: Market Size & Segmentation
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 08: Market Size & Segmentation

Your marketing plan (a) needs a market-product grid to focus your marketing efforts and also (b) leads to a forecast of sales for the company.  Use these steps:

1.        Define the market segments (the rows in your grid) using the bases of segmentation used to segment consumer and organizational markets.

2.        Define the groupings of related products (the columns in your grid).

3.        Form your grid and estimate the size of market in each market-product cell.

4.        Select the target market segments on which to focus your efforts with your marketing program.

5.        Use the information and the lost-horse forecasting technique to make a sales forecast (company forecast).

6.        Draft your positioning statement.

Answers:

Market segments and product groupings.  What do we sell to whom?  This is one of the most fundamental questions every business must answer.  In the market-product grid analysis, the “what” is the “product grouping” or columns in the grid and the “to whom” is the “market segments” or rows in the grid.  The initial task in developing the market-product grid is to name the product groupings and market segments—a task requiring serious thought.  Product groupings should closely relate to the ways consumers actually make their purchase decision (by item, occasion, feature, etc.) in order to develop a more effective marketing program.  Market segments should be defined based on the characteristic(s) that are the least costly to identify and reach with a marketing program.  These characteristics could be geographic, demographic, psychographic, or behavioral in nature.  A profile of a target market segment must include its media behavior to communicate the marketing program developed to meet its needs.

Market size and target market selection.  Estimating the market size in each cell of the grid may be on a “3-2-1-0” (large, medium, small, none) basis.  However, if possible, a more rigorous and useful approach is to estimate annual revenues (dollars) for each of the cells before selecting the target market segments.  Unit sales (numbers) or market share estimates are much more difficult to estimate and therefore should be beyond the scope of this exercise.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Developing the market product grid and sales forecast are probably the two most difficult tasks students face in writing their marketing plans.  Yet they are among the most important because of how closely they link to marketing mix actions in the plan.  So instructors should stress their importance.  Also, students should be forced to look at both the marketing synergies and operations efficiencies in studying their marketing-product grid and related strategies.

Step 09: Product Differentiation
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 09: Product Differentiation

In fine-tuning the product strategy for your marketing plan, do these two things:

1.        Develop a simple three-column table in which (a) market segments are in the first column and (b) the one or two key points of differences of the product to satisfy the segment’s needs are in the second column.

2.        In the third column of your table, write ideas for specific new products for your business in each of the rows in your table.

Answers:

(a) MARKET SEGMENTS

(b) POINTS OF DIFFERENCE

(c) NEW PRODUCT IDEAS

Question #1 revisits the first Building Your Marketing Plan activity.  However, after the discussion about points of difference being the single most important factor in new product success or failure, it should have more significance for students.  Also, the students’ development of a market-product grid for their plans should add to their understanding.

Helping with Common Student Problems

In writing their marketing plans, students often have a myopic view of their “product strategy.”  If the plan is for an existing business, the “product strategy” probably only deals with what the business is selling now.  In contrast, for a new business, the “product strategy” is probably only the new offering.  Students must realize that the foundation for the product strategy in their marketing plan mixes all the considerations discussed thus far.

Step 10: Product Life Cycle
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 10: Product Life Cycle

For the product offering in your marketing plan,

1.        Identify (a) its stage in the product life cycle and (b) key marketing mix actions that might be appropriate.

Answer: Question #1 really applies best to a marketing plan for a product or service more than, say, a retail shop or a college club.  In the latter cases, formal product life cycle analysis is less appropriate.

2.        Develop (a) branding and (b) packaging strategies, if appropriate for your offering.

Answer: Similarly, Question #2b applies mainly to a marketing plan for a physical product.  However, broad branding issues can apply to a product, service, or retail shop.  In the case of the retail shop, its name and possible logo or catchy phrase may be a vital part of gaining customer awareness.

Step 11: Price
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 11: Price

In starting to set a final price:

1.        List two pricing objectives and three pricing constraints.

Answer: In Question #1, writing on paper several pricing objectives and pricing constraints is intended to help students start to confront pricing realities.  For example, perhaps a new, underfunded small business has the practical pricing objective of needing to break even in six months or sooner.  Or perhaps a pricing constraint for a small manufacturer is to offer firms in its channel of distribution the conventional margins used in its industry.

2.        Think about your customers and competitors and set three possible prices.

3.        Assume a fixed cost and unit variable cost and (a) calculate the break-even points and (b) plot a break-even chart for the three prices specified in step 2.

Answer: Questions #2 and #3 force students to dig into key fixed and unit variable costs plus assume three prices in order to calculate break-even points and plot the related break-even charts.  Reality may set in when students discover they have to sell five times as many units as they assumed, just to break even.

Helping with Common Student Problems

“But I don’t know what the fixed costs for a flower shop are going to be” is a common student complaint.  The simple instructor answer: “Well then you’d better do some data digging and make some simple assumptions.  And by the way, please put those assumptions in your plan so we know your starting point.”

Probably the biggest surprise from students in the hundreds of marketing plans we’ve read and graded is: How many more widgets they have to sell than they expected—just to start covering the fixed costs?  Another concern for students is what the units of quantity sold will be, say, for a flower shop when there are so many different plants and bouquets that might be sold.

Students need to be encouraged to alter whatever assumptions are appropriate to calculate their final break-even point and related potential profit.

Step 12: Channel & Supply Chain
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 12: Channel & Supply Chain

Does your marketing plan involve selecting channels and intermediaries?  If the answer is “no,” read no further and do not include this element in your plan.  If the answer is “yes,”

1.        Identify which channel and intermediaries will provide the best coverage of the target market for your product or service.

2.        Specify which channel and intermediaries will best satisfy the important buying requirements of the target market.

3.        Determine which channel and intermediaries will be the most profitable.

4.        Select your channel(s) and intermediary(ies).

Suggestion: If a student’s marketing plan involves a manufacturing operation, choosing effective channels of distribution and intermediaries are often vital to the firm’s success.
In this case, key considerations in channel decisions are consist of factors like effectiveness of reaching and serving the needs of customers in the target market segments and the margins needed for channel members that will still provide adequate profit for the manufacturer.  But marketing plans for retail shops or college-related activities, these channel issues are largely irrelevant.

5.        If inventory is involved,  (a) identify the three or four major kinds of inventory needed for your organization (retail stock, finished products, raw materials, supplies, and so on), and (b) suggest ways to reduce their costs.

6.        (a) Rank the four customer service factors (time, dependability, communication, and convenience) from most important to least important from your customers’ point of view, and (b) identify actions for the one or two most important to serve customers better.

Step 13: Retail Channels
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 13: Retail (Brick n’ Mortar / Digital) Channels

Does your marketing plan involve using retailers?  If the answer is “no,” read no further and do not include a retailing element in your plan.  If the answer is “yes”:

1.        Develop your retailing strategy by specifying the details of the retailing mix.

2.        Describe an appropriate combination of retail pricing, store location, retail communication, and merchandise assortment.

3.        Confirm that the wholesalers needed to support your retailing strategy are consistent with the channels and intermediaries you selected in the prior step.

Step 14: Integrated MarCom
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 14: Integrated MarCom

Now we’re getting to the good “Internet Marketing” space that you may have been waiting for…the prior, traditional marketing steps needed to be considered first, before focusing on the digital marketing tools required to developing one’s eMarketing Plan.

Integrated Marketing Communication also referest to Cross-Channel Marketing…it is a hybrid of combining all possible marketing tools (as needed) into a strategy that enables a firm to best promote it’s brand, products and services.

To develop the promotion strategy for your marketing plan, follow the steps suggested in the planning phase of the promotion decision process.

1.        You should (a) identify the target audience, (b) specify the promotion objectives,
(c) set the promotion budget, (d) select the right promotion tools, (e) design the promotion, and (f) schedule the promotion.

Answers:

a.        Target audience.  Is there more than one?  Who are they?  Does the same promotional approach work for all?

b.        Promotion objectives.  Do promotion objectives differ by target audiences?  Is the main objective increased awareness?  Trial?  Repeat purchase?

c.        Promotion budget.  In the break-even analysis developed earlier, was the promotion budget included?  Is it reasonable in light of the promotion objectives?

d.        Promotion tools.  Is our stress on advertising, personal selling, etc.?  Are these tools the ones most effective in reaching our target audience and achieving our promotional objectives?

e.        Promotion design.  If we are using a yellow page ad or a direct mail ad, what should it look like?

f.          Promotion schedule.  Does demand for our offering vary seasonally?  If yes, shouldn’t this be reflected in our scheduling decisions?

2.        Also specify the pretesting and posttesting procedures needed in the implementation and control phases.

Answer: In Question #2, pretesting and posttesting of promotional ideas is often difficult for small businesses because of cost.  It may simply involve a question to ask new customers, such as “How did you hear about us?”

3.        Finally, describe how each of your promotion tools are integrated to provide a consistent message.

Answer: Question #3 really addresses how to have an integrated marketing communication program in which each promotional tool complements and supports the others.

Helping with Common Student Problems

What students are asked to do in Questions #1, #2, and #3 above is a very, very big order.

In fact, if done in detail for a large business, this could be a complete promotional plan written for a promotion or advertising course.  However, this experience could be both fun and frightening for students if they are actually trying their hands at writing a promotional piece to include in their marketing plans.  For simplicity, have student outline a public relations, sales promotion, or direct marketing strategy.

Step 15: Adv, PR & Sales
BUILDING YOUR MARKETING PLAN

Step 15: Adv, PR & Sales

To augment your promotion strategy:

1.        Select the advertising media you will include in your plan by analyzing how combinations of media (e.g., television, Internet, radio, and yellow pages) can complement each other.

2.        Select your consumer-oriented sales promotion activities (coupons, deals, premiums, contests, sweepstakes, samples, loyalty programs, point-of-purchase displays, rebates, and/or product placements).

3.        Specify which trade-oriented sales promotions and public relations tools you will use.

Answer: The feasibility of using each of the five promotion tools varies tremendously depending on the topic of the marketing plan.  Probably nowhere is this truer than in the three promotional tools covered in Chapter 15.  For example, a marketing plan for an Internet café in terms of cost effectiveness might be able to justify only yellow pages ads and Internet advertising—consumer-oriented sales promotions, with trade-oriented sales promotions and public relations being impractical.  In contrast, other retail operations might stress some consumer-oriented sales promotions, such as samples or point-of- purchase displays.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students should be encouraged to include some samples of creative promotional ideas in their marketing plan or in an appendix to it.  Examples include sample advertisements, point-of-purchase displays, or a news release to be used in public relations.  These examples move students from the level of “telling how to do it” to actually “doing it!”

Step 16: Social Network Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 16: Social Network Strategy

Remembering the target market segments you identified in for your marketing plan:

1.        (a) Identify which one of the four social networks described in the chapter would be most useful and (b) give your reasons.

a.        The choice of one of the four social networks by a student to help market his/her new business involves matching (1) the special communications needs of the new business (local or national market, product or service, easy versus difficult to understand, existing media and websites already used, etc.) with (2) the unique strengths and weaknesses of each of the four social networks (monthly unique visitors to the network, audience demographics, importance of feedback, ability of network to communicate complex product or story, etc.).

b.        As an example, let’s assume the student is writing a marketing plan for a fairly complex new technical product whose benefits are better understood by being seen in some way rather than being simply described in words.  In that case, the student would choose YouTube to post a video that clearly demonstrates the benefits and use of the technical product.

2.        Briefly describe (a) how you would use this social network to try to increase sales of your products and (b) why you expect target market customers to respond to it.

a.        The student should start by identifying (1) the clear points of difference to communicate to target market prospects and (2) the complexities that have to be explained clearly, and then develop a really creative way to incorporate these factors into a short video.

b.        In an ideal world, the student’s video might be both entertained and very informative.  This was the case with the OK Go videos described in the chapter.  Google, YouTube’s owner, offers a search engine so users interested in the video’s topic can find it.  To get viewers back to the seller’s website, the video description should contain a hyperlink to permit follow-up and conversations with potential customers.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students’ love of favorite social networks can easily distract them from making rational strategy choices.  Selecting one of the social networks or digital tools might be done more rationally by developing a table.  The most familiar are in the four columns.  The special communications needs mentioned in the first paragraph above might be the rows in the table.  The student can use this table to help make a reasoned choice.

Step 17: Sales Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 17: Sales Strategy

Does your marketing plan involve a personal selling activity?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include a personal selling element in your plan.  If the answer is yes:

1.        Identify the likely prospects for your product or service.

2.        Determine what information you should obtain about the prospect.

3.        Describe how you would approach the prospect.

4.        Outline the presentation you would make to the prospect for your product or service.

5.        Develop a sales plan, focusing on the organizational structure you would use for your salesforce (geography, product, or customer).

Answer: For some businesses, personal selling activities are the single most important factor in success.  For student marketing plans for which this is true, this Building Your Marketing Plan focuses on the first four stages in the personal selling process: prospecting, preapproach, approach, and presentation.  A detailed description of these steps is appropriate for marketing plans where personal selling is a key to success.  For other plans, this section is not pertinent.

Step 18: Digital Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 18: Digital Strategy

Does your marketing plan involve a marketspace presence for your product or service?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include this element in your plan.

If the answer is yes, then attention must be given to developing a website / app in your marketing plan.  A useful starting point is to:

1.        Describe how each website / app element—context, content, community, customization, communication, connection, and commerce—will be used to create a customer experience.

2.        Identify a company’s website / app that best reflects your website conceptualization.

Answer: If marketspace presence is important for the product or service in the student marketing plan, then an effective website / app is critical to success.  Clearly, asking the student or team to design an appropriate website is far beyond the scope of a marketing plan for a  marketing course.  But asking students to do a “six-C analysis” of each element in their website and to identify an existing website / app that might serve as a model is appropriate for their marketing plans.

Balance is everything… We still live in a world dominated by traditional media… our marketing plan must reflect this while also taking into consideration all of the possible digital tools that can be included in a hybrid plan. The term hybrid will only be used for a few more years as the inclusion of / use of big data, website, app and social media will become / have already become the norm. As our lifestyle takes us away from traditional TV and the desktop computer and we become more mobile, alternative tools such as the tablets, smartphones, out of home (OOH), outdoor media and interactive displays will become essential marketing tools in the near future, that future being now.

Combine the 18 steps that you’ve followed over the course of the semester via this journal and include the concepts covered from this course to develop an Internet or Digital Marketing Plan.

Step 19: One Page Plan
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

STEP 19: The One Page Plan

Before anyone writes a book, please review these templates as writing a marketing plan does not need to be an epic affair, simply a straight and to the point outline / roadmap / strategy, that is easy to follow and implement.

Template A

Marketing Theme:
Category
Strategy
My reason for existence:

What sets my business apart from the rest:

My ideal customer is:

What’s most important to my ideal customer when they are buying what I’m selling:

What I want to accomplish this year:

The top 3 things that are going to get me there:

How much will each program contribute to my revenue/profitability:

What will trigger my ideal customer to think of me:

Programs I  am running to reach my goal

How much money will I need to get it done?

Template B

“THEME”
Category

Strategy
Target Market

Positioning Statement

Offering to customers

Price Strategy

Distribution

Sales Strategy

Service Strategy

Promotion Strategy

Marketing Research

Any other component of your marketing plan

Template C

Sample marketing plan

Table of Contents

Executive summary                                                                                                  Page #
Situation analysis                                                                                                      Page #
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Marketing strategy                                                                                                    Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

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Financials                                                                                                                        Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

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Implementation and Contingency                                                                  Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

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Executive Summary

In half a page or less summarise the most important aspects of the business. Cover aspects of who the company is and what it is about, including unique aspects. Briefly describe the company’s history.

In a new paragraph describe the company’s mission, vision and its goals (including financial and non-financial). You may also choose to include a paragraph about core competencies.

Situation analysis

This section is comprised of several components. Before each component is broken down in detail, provide a general situational context: e.g. Company X is in its second year of operation in the mechanical industry, providing solutions in x, y and z. Key things to mention about the company are the ‘what’, and ‘how’.

Market summary
In approximately two pages describe who your most important customers are: Describe the market demographic, their needs, trends, growth, and sensitivities (including likes and dislikes).

SWOT analysis
In one page, break down the company’s
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

Competition
In between half to one page, describe your competition: Who are they? What is their offering? What do they do better than you? How are they a threat to your business?

Services
What are the primary services or products offered by your company?

Keys to success
What distinguishes your business from the competition? List points for what needs to be done to stand above competition and stand out in the market? Are there critical issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve success?

Marketing strategy

In a paragraph describe the company’s mission, marketing objectives and financial objectives.

Target market
Detail market demographic including their needs, trends and growth

Positioning
Where are you in the market and where do you intend going?

Marketing mix
Detail the proposed marketing mix through:
Product strategy
Distribution strategy
Promotional strategy
Pricing strategy
Market research

Financials

Describe the company’s budget, schedule and monitoring. Then in greater detail describe:

Break-even analysis

Sales forecasts
including a breakdown by partner, segment and region if applicable

Expense Forecast
including a breakdown by partner, segment and region if applicable

Linking expenses to strategy and tactics

Contribution to margins

Controls  & implementation

What is the purpose of the marketing plan and consequently what areas will you be monitoring?
Eg:

Customer acquisition cost
Repeat customers
Customer satisfaction

Implementation involves setting and following milestones through a specified time frame and anticipating difficulties and risks with contingency plans.

 

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Step 01: Topic Selection

The first step in writing a good eMarketing Plan is to have a business or product that enthuses you and for which you can get detailed information, so you can avoid glittering generalities.  We offer these additional bits of advice in selecting a topic:

a.        Do pick a topic that has personal interest for you—a family business, a business or product you or a friend might want to launch, or a student organization needing marketing help.

b.        Do not pick a topic that is so large it can’t be covered adequately or so abstract it will lack specifics.

1.        Now to get you started on your marketing plan, list four or five possible topics and compare these with the criteria your instructor suggests and those shown above.  Think hard, because your decision will be with you all term and may influence the quality of the resulting marketing plan you show to a prospective employer.

In Question 1, a key factor students should consider in choosing a topic for their marketing plan is whether they can find enough useful information to provide the necessary detail in the completed plan.  For example, a plan done for an existing family business builds on an immediate base of past revenues, marketing activities, etc.  In contrast, a plan for a potential business a student is considering launching has no such base of information.  While instructors must be sensitive to the different data collection problems each of these two marketing plans face, both must avoid the “glittering generalities” problem when submitted.

Here are examples of successful marketing plans students have submitted for our classes:

•          Family business.  Sand and gravel business, small manufacturing shop, two-chair barber shop, summer resort.

•          Local small business.  Garage, flower shop, corner grocery, interior-design decorating shop.

•          Student organization or university activity.  Marketing club, campus blood drive, increasing attendance at college sporting events, student counseling center.

•          Potential business.  Internet café, healthy-food restaurant, graphic design shop, motorcycle shop.

•          Existing business.  Amazon, Apple, Boston Consulting Group, Comcast, Disney, Ford Motors, Google, JetBlue, McDonalds, Microsoft, P&G, Samsung, Simon Malls, Verizon, etc…

2.        When you have selected your marketing plan topic, whether the plan is for an actual business, a possible business, or a student organization, write the “company description” in your plan.

In Question 2, if the company already exists, the company description highlights the recent history and recent successes of the organization so students should seek to:

a.        Recent history.

1.        Provide a brief introduction about when the organization was founded (if relevant), identify who the founders or key management personnel are that will assist you, and define what product or service is to be marketed.

2.        Discuss what is unique about the company and its offering(s) that sets it apart from competitors.

b.        Recent successes.  Where possible, identify and briefly describe what recent activities or results show how the organization has been successful in terms of sales (dollars or units), market share, quality, new product introductions, and so on.

If the company or organization does not actually exist, students should seek to describe what is unique about the organization and its offerings that are likely to lead to its eventual success.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Enthusiastic students often pick marketing plan topics that are simply too grandiose to be completed in the time available—a new brand of car or a new airline to serve small U.S. cities.  A subtler problem—alluded to above—is in picking a marketing plan topic that requires an inordinate amount of effort to obtain useful data.  For this latter problem, when having students select a marketing plan topic, ask them to first write down 4 or 5 topic ideas and then 10 or 12 words for each topic about what key sources of information they need to obtain and where are they likely to obtain it.

Step 02: Mission Statement & SWOT
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 02: Mission Statement & SWOT

1.        When you have completed the draft of your own marketing plan, write a 600-word executive summary to go in the front of your own marketing plan.

Suggestions: In Question #1, students are asked to write a 600-word executive summary. This gives them a chance to practice a draft of an executive summary for their own marketing plan.  A sample 600-word executive summary for a marketing plan appears below.

FIVE-YEAR MARKETING PLAN FOR PARADISE KITCHENS, INC.

1.  Executive Summary

2.  Company Description

Paradise Kitchens was started in 1989 to develop and market Howlin’ Coyote Chili.

3.  Strategic Focus and Plan

Three key aspects of the company’s corporate strategy:

•          Mission/Vision.  Howlin’ Coyote Chili intends to market the highest-quality line of single serve and microwaveable Southwestern/Mexican-style frozen chili products.

•          Goals.

a.        Nonfinancial goals include: retaining its high quality image; entering 17 new metropolitan markets; achieving nationwide distribution in two convenience store or supermarket chains by 2012 and five by 2013; adding a new product line every third year; and being among the top five chili lines in one-third of the metro markets in which it competes by 2013 and two-thirds by 2015.

b.        Financial goals include: achieving a real growth in earnings per share of 8 percent per year over time; obtaining a return on equity of at least 20 percent; and having a public stock offering by 2013.

•          Core Competency and Sustainable Advantage.  Paradise Kitchens seeks to
(1) provide distinctive, high-quality chili and related products using Southwestern/Mexican recipes that appeal to and excite contemporary tastes and
(2) use effective manufacturing and distribution systems that maintain high quality standards to deliver its products to consumers.

4.  Situation Analysis

An analysis of Paradise Kitchens’ marketing environment reveals:

•          SWOT Analysis.  The Company’s favorable internal factors are an experienced management team, excellent acceptance in its three metropolitan markets, and a strong manufacturing and distribution system.  Favorable external factors include increasing appeal of Southwestern/Mexican foods, a strong upscale market for the Company’s products, and a desire for convenience.  The main weaknesses are Paradise Kitchens’ small size relative to its competitors in terms of depth of management team, its limited financial resources to respond to growth opportunities and competitive actions, lack of national awareness and distribution of product lines, and lack of food processing expertise.  Threats include the danger that the Company’s premium prices may limit access to mass markets and competition from the eat-out and take-out markets.

•          Industry Analysis.  There is a rising trend in frozen foods in general and spicy and Mexican foods in particular.  The Mexican entree market represents over $506 million in annual sales of the $29 billion total frozen food sales due in part to the increase of the Hispanic population in the U. S., which reached 48 million and almost $978 billion in purchasing power in 2009.

•          Competitors in the Chili Market.  The chili market is also a $500 million market in the U.S. and is divided into two segments: canned chili, sold by Hormel, Dennison, Campbell’s, and others (75%), and dry chili, sold by Lowry’s, Stagg, etc. (25%).  Bush, a major marketer of beans, now sells chili in a glass jar.  Canned chili does not taste very good.  Dry chili requires consumers to add their own meat, beans, and tomatoes, taking more preparation time.

•          Company Analysis.  The principals of the firm have extensive consumer packaged food experience.

•          Customer Analysis.  Howlin’ Coyote households consist of one to three people.  Among married couples, both spouses work.  Although a majority of buyers are women, single men represent a significant segment.  Teenage boys devour it.  Because chili is a quick and tasty meal, the product’s biggest users tend to be those pressed for time.  Premium pricing also means that purchasers are skewed toward the higher end of the income range: $50,000 and above.  Buyers range in age from 25 to 54.  The high caloric level of much Mexican and Southwestern-style food has been widely reported and often exaggerated.  Less certain is any link between such reports and consumer buying behavior.  Therefore, while Howlin’ Coyote is lower in calories, fat, and sodium than its competitors, those qualities are not being stressed in promotion.  Instead, taste, convenience, and flexibility are stressed.

5.  Market-Product Focus

A five-year marketing and product objectives for Paradise Kitchens and Howlin’ Coyote chili includes:

•          Marketing and Product Objectives.  Paradise Kitchens will expand its brand at the retail level by increasing consumer awareness and repeat purchases, adding several new markets by Year 5, increasing food service sales, and adding new frozen food products.

•          Target Markets.  The primary market is 1 to 3 person households with incomes of at least $50,000.

•          Points of Difference.  Howlin’ Coyote chili is superior to those offered by competitors based on its taste, convenience, and packaging.

•          Positioning.  Howlin’ Coyote chili is both tasty and easily and quickly prepared for today’s consumer.

6.  Marketing Program

The marketing program applies the information summarized above, as shown below:

•          Product Strategy.  Emphasize high quality and flavor; packaging is distinctive art communicating out-of-the ordinary positioning.

•          Price Strategy.  Priced comparably with other frozen chili, higher than canned or dry—but worth it.

•          Promotion Strategy.  Use in-store demonstrations, recipes, and cents-off coupons.

•          Place (Distribution) Strategy.  Continue to use a food distributor until sales grow enough to justify shifting to a more efficient system using a broker.

7.  Financial Data and Projections

The marketing plan provides past sales revenues for 2001-2011 along with five-year financial projections for 2012-2016.

8.  Organization

The marketing plan also outlines an organization chart and staffing plan.

9.  Implementation Plan

Paradise Kitchens will use a five-year rollout schedule to enter new U.S. markets.  The plan will be monitored to assess whether minor modifications may be required in chili recipes for different metropolitan areas.  Comparing actual versus target monthly sales by metropolitan area will provide evaluation and control.  Tactical marketing programs will be modified to reflect unique factors in each area.

10.  Evaluation and Control

Actual case sales will be compared with monthly targets and tactical marketing programs modified to reflect the unique sets of factors in each metropolitan area.  The speed of the rollout program will depend on Paradise Kitchens’ performance in the metropolitan markets it enters.  Finally, Paradise Kitchens will respond to variations in regional tastes.

Appendix A.  Biographical Sketches of Key Personnel

Appendix B.  Detailed Financial Projections

2.        Using the above as a guide, to give focus to your own marketing plan, please do the following:
(a) writing your mission statement in 25 words of less, (b) listing three nonfinancial goals and three financial goals, (c) writing your competitive advantage in 35 words or less, and (d) doing a SWOT analysis table.

Suggestions: Question #2 asks students to get a jump start on writing their marketing plan by putting on paper their mission statement, non-financial and financial goals, competitive advantage for the organization, and a SWOT analysis.

3.        Draw a simple organization chart for your organization.

A.        Develop a Gantt chart to schedule the key activities to implement your marketing plan.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Our experience from working with thousands of students writing marketing plans is the need to encourage them to (a) get started and get something on paper and (b) be specific.  One way to accomplish this is to have students hand in a two-page draft of the start of their marketing plan containing the four items listed above in Question #2.

Step 03: Environmental Scan
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 03: Environmental Scan

Your marketing plan will include a situation analysis based on internal and external factors that are likely to affect your marketing program and an assessment of the affect of your plan on potential stakeholders.

1.        To summarize information about external factors, create a table and identify three trends related to each of the five forces (social, economic, technological, competitive, and regulatory) that relate to your product or service.

2.        When your table is completed, describe how each of the trends represents an opportunity or a threat for your business.

3.        Identify what, if any, ethical and social responsibility issues might arise for each type of stakeholder.

The most rigorous way to have students do an environmental scan for their marketing plan is to have them create a table with the following four columns: “Environmental Force,”  “Opportunities,” “Threats,” and “Resulting Trend.”  This forces students to think about implications of the trends for their business or product or service.  The environmental scan can give depth to the industry analysis, competitor analysis, and customer analysis portion of “Section 4: Situation Analysis.”

Not a part of a traditional marketing plan, the “stakeholder analysis” attempts to outline the potential impact on key stakeholder groups of potential future company actions reflected in the marketing plan.  For example, if a small manufacturer faces increasing environmental laws that can substantially increase costs, its effect on employees, suppliers, and customers might be described briefly.  Ideas from the stakeholder analysis may be woven into the plan’s situation analysis.

Helping with Common Student Problems

As with the SWOT analysis activity, students often end their analysis by simply listing the environmental trends in their environmental scan.  By having students add the “opportunities” and “threats” columns described above, they are forced to try to translate the trend into what it means for their marketing plan.  Sometime it suggests a specific action.  At other times, it suggests the student be aware of the trend, which may lead to actions in the future.

Step 04: Consumer Analysis
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 04: Consumer Analysis

To do a consumer analysis for the product—the good, service, or idea—in your marketing plan:

1.        Identify the consumers who are most likely to buy your product—the primary target market—in terms of (a) their demographic characteristics and (b) any other kind of characteristics you believe are important.

2.        Describe (a) the main points of difference of your product for this group and
(b) what problem they help solve for the consumer in terms of the first stage of the consumer purchase decision process.

3.        Identify the one or two key influences for each of the four outside boxes in (a) marketing mix, (b) psychological, (c) sociocultural, and
(d) situational influences.

This consumer analysis will provide the foundation for the marketing mix actions you develop later in your plan.

For existing businesses, a look at company records or scrutiny of customers, say, visiting the shop may provide specifics on the characteristics of the primary target market customers.  This may also suggest key new segments to try to reach.

What makes our product or service more desirable to potential customers than offerings of competitors?  These are the key “points of difference” that are the foundation for possible success for the product or service described in the student marketing plan.  Typically, these points of difference tie to a customer problem to be solved—a more convenient location, better service, higher-quality offering, and so on.

The influences that emerge in this step often become the basis for marketing mix decisions developed later in the student plan.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Student marketing plans often lack clear definitions of (a) the primary target market segments of customers and (b) points of difference.  Without these, the marketing plan quickly loses focus.

Step 05: Market Potential
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 05: Market Potential

Your marketing plan may need an estimate of the size of the market potential or industry potential for a particular product-market in which you compete.  Use these steps:

1.        Define the product-market precisely, such as ice cream.

2.        Visit the NAICS website at www.census.gov.

3.        Click “NAICS” and enter a keyword that describes your product-market
(e.g., ice cream).

4.        Follow the instructions to find the specific NAICS code and economic census data that detail the dollar sales and provide the estimate of market or industry potential.

If the marketing plan involves organizational markets, it is often useful first to determine the size of the market or industrial potential and then to assess the portion—or market share—that the organization might capture.  U.S. Census data is the most common source of information for this kind of analysis.  However, for most small businesses, this kind of analysis is of secondary importance.

Step 06: Going Global
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 06: Going Global

Does your marketing plan involve reaching global customers outside the United States?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include a global element in your plan.  If the answer is yes, try to identify the following:

1.        What features of your product are especially important to potential customers?

2.        In which countries do these potential customers live?

3.        What special marketing issues are involved in trying to reach them?

Answers to these questions will help in developing more detailed marketing mix strategies described in later chapters.

Special issues for students to consider if marketing a product to another country include:

1.        Regulations dealing with imports, including tariffs and quotas.

2.        Assistance programs from the World Trade Organization, U.S. government, or state trade office.

3.        Whether a website will be developed in the language of the targeted country.

4.        An assessment of the country’s values, customs, and symbols when developing the marketing mix.

5.        An assessment of any relevant economic (income, inflation, currency exchange rate, etc.) and infrastructure issues (communication, transportation, energy, distribution, etc.).

6.        Political stability.

7.        Market-entry strategy to be used.

8.        Whether the product will need to be adapted.

Step 07: Resource Prioritization
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 07: Resource Prioritization

To help you collect the most useful data for your marketing plan, develop a three-column table:

1.        In column 1, list the information you would ideally like to have to fill holes in your marketing plan.

Answers: Data sources were also touched on briefly in the Chapter 1: Building Your Marketing Plan when students were selecting a marketing plan topic.  Without some available data on the proposed plan, a different product, service, or organization should have been selected.  Some of these information needs may consist of market size, market share, or target market characteristics (demographics, usage, media, etc.).

2.        In column 2, identify the source for each bit of information in column 1, such as an Internet search, talking to prospective customers, looking at internal data, and so forth.

Answers: Some of these sources could include Census data, sales reports, mail survey of prospective customers, interviews with owners or managers, etc.

3.        In column 3, set a priority on information you will have time to spend collecting by rating them: 1 = most important; 2 = next most important; and so forth.  [Note: This is a 3-pt. scale.]

Answers: This three-column table never appears in the marketing plan itself.  But if done well, the tool can generate sufficient data upon which the marketing mix strategies are based.  Suppose a student team is developing a marketing plan an existing small, family-owned florist shop.  A portion of this three-column table might look as follows:

NEEDED INFORMATION

INFORMATION SOURCE

PRIORITY

•          Present target market customers (households and institutions)

•          Internal company records

3

•          Satisfaction and wants of present customers

•          Simple, 7-question survey

3

•          Potential target market customers (households and institutions)

•          Map and observation of potential customers in local retail trading area

2

•          Competitors

•          Yellow-pages; map of 15-mile radius retail trading area

2

•          Suppliers of flowers, other supplies

•          Yellow-pages; interview with owners

1

•          Cost of advertising media

•          Pricing of Yellow Pages ad, direct mail, local newspaper ad

3

•          Break-even data (rent, utilities, average selling price, etc.)

•          Interview with owners

3

This prioritizes the data collection tasks.  Inform students that some secondary data collection is necessary before a survey can be developed since the students need to have some understanding of the market and its environment.  Also, if students plan on collecting primary data, they need to allow for sufficient time to design the instrument, collect the data, analyze the data, and the develop marketing actions.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students writing marketing plans often have the classic problem of procrastinators—trying to collect and interpret the data the day before the plan is to be submitted to the instructor.  This needed data analysis step is intended to force students to anticipate the information required and to obtain it before the last minute.

Step 08: Market Size & Segmentation
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 08: Market Size & Segmentation

Your marketing plan (a) needs a market-product grid to focus your marketing efforts and also (b) leads to a forecast of sales for the company.  Use these steps:

1.        Define the market segments (the rows in your grid) using the bases of segmentation used to segment consumer and organizational markets.

2.        Define the groupings of related products (the columns in your grid).

3.        Form your grid and estimate the size of market in each market-product cell.

4.        Select the target market segments on which to focus your efforts with your marketing program.

5.        Use the information and the lost-horse forecasting technique to make a sales forecast (company forecast).

6.        Draft your positioning statement.

Answers:

Market segments and product groupings.  What do we sell to whom?  This is one of the most fundamental questions every business must answer.  In the market-product grid analysis, the “what” is the “product grouping” or columns in the grid and the “to whom” is the “market segments” or rows in the grid.  The initial task in developing the market-product grid is to name the product groupings and market segments—a task requiring serious thought.  Product groupings should closely relate to the ways consumers actually make their purchase decision (by item, occasion, feature, etc.) in order to develop a more effective marketing program.  Market segments should be defined based on the characteristic(s) that are the least costly to identify and reach with a marketing program.  These characteristics could be geographic, demographic, psychographic, or behavioral in nature.  A profile of a target market segment must include its media behavior to communicate the marketing program developed to meet its needs.

Market size and target market selection.  Estimating the market size in each cell of the grid may be on a “3-2-1-0” (large, medium, small, none) basis.  However, if possible, a more rigorous and useful approach is to estimate annual revenues (dollars) for each of the cells before selecting the target market segments.  Unit sales (numbers) or market share estimates are much more difficult to estimate and therefore should be beyond the scope of this exercise.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Developing the market product grid and sales forecast are probably the two most difficult tasks students face in writing their marketing plans.  Yet they are among the most important because of how closely they link to marketing mix actions in the plan.  So instructors should stress their importance.  Also, students should be forced to look at both the marketing synergies and operations efficiencies in studying their marketing-product grid and related strategies.

Step 09: Product Differentiation
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 09: Product Differentiation

In fine-tuning the product strategy for your marketing plan, do these two things:

1.        Develop a simple three-column table in which (a) market segments are in the first column and (b) the one or two key points of differences of the product to satisfy the segment’s needs are in the second column.

2.        In the third column of your table, write ideas for specific new products for your business in each of the rows in your table.

Answers:

(a) MARKET SEGMENTS

(b) POINTS OF DIFFERENCE

(c) NEW PRODUCT IDEAS

Question #1 revisits the first Building Your Marketing Plan activity.  However, after the discussion about points of difference being the single most important factor in new product success or failure, it should have more significance for students.  Also, the students’ development of a market-product grid for their plans should add to their understanding.

Helping with Common Student Problems

In writing their marketing plans, students often have a myopic view of their “product strategy.”  If the plan is for an existing business, the “product strategy” probably only deals with what the business is selling now.  In contrast, for a new business, the “product strategy” is probably only the new offering.  Students must realize that the foundation for the product strategy in their marketing plan mixes all the considerations discussed thus far.

Step 10: Product Life Cycle
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 10: Product Life Cycle

For the product offering in your marketing plan,

1.        Identify (a) its stage in the product life cycle and (b) key marketing mix actions that might be appropriate.

Answer: Question #1 really applies best to a marketing plan for a product or service more than, say, a retail shop or a college club.  In the latter cases, formal product life cycle analysis is less appropriate.

2.        Develop (a) branding and (b) packaging strategies, if appropriate for your offering.

Answer: Similarly, Question #2b applies mainly to a marketing plan for a physical product.  However, broad branding issues can apply to a product, service, or retail shop.  In the case of the retail shop, its name and possible logo or catchy phrase may be a vital part of gaining customer awareness.

Step 11: Price
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 11: Price

In starting to set a final price:

1.        List two pricing objectives and three pricing constraints.

Answer: In Question #1, writing on paper several pricing objectives and pricing constraints is intended to help students start to confront pricing realities.  For example, perhaps a new, underfunded small business has the practical pricing objective of needing to break even in six months or sooner.  Or perhaps a pricing constraint for a small manufacturer is to offer firms in its channel of distribution the conventional margins used in its industry.

2.        Think about your customers and competitors and set three possible prices.

3.        Assume a fixed cost and unit variable cost and (a) calculate the break-even points and (b) plot a break-even chart for the three prices specified in step 2.

Answer: Questions #2 and #3 force students to dig into key fixed and unit variable costs plus assume three prices in order to calculate break-even points and plot the related break-even charts.  Reality may set in when students discover they have to sell five times as many units as they assumed, just to break even.

Helping with Common Student Problems

“But I don’t know what the fixed costs for a flower shop are going to be” is a common student complaint.  The simple instructor answer: “Well then you’d better do some data digging and make some simple assumptions.  And by the way, please put those assumptions in your plan so we know your starting point.”

Probably the biggest surprise from students in the hundreds of marketing plans we’ve read and graded is: How many more widgets they have to sell than they expected—just to start covering the fixed costs?  Another concern for students is what the units of quantity sold will be, say, for a flower shop when there are so many different plants and bouquets that might be sold.

Students need to be encouraged to alter whatever assumptions are appropriate to calculate their final break-even point and related potential profit.

Step 12: Channel & Supply Chain
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 12: Channel & Supply Chain

Does your marketing plan involve selecting channels and intermediaries?  If the answer is “no,” read no further and do not include this element in your plan.  If the answer is “yes,”

1.        Identify which channel and intermediaries will provide the best coverage of the target market for your product or service.

2.        Specify which channel and intermediaries will best satisfy the important buying requirements of the target market.

3.        Determine which channel and intermediaries will be the most profitable.

4.        Select your channel(s) and intermediary(ies).

Suggestion: If a student’s marketing plan involves a manufacturing operation, choosing effective channels of distribution and intermediaries are often vital to the firm’s success.
In this case, key considerations in channel decisions are consist of factors like effectiveness of reaching and serving the needs of customers in the target market segments and the margins needed for channel members that will still provide adequate profit for the manufacturer.  But marketing plans for retail shops or college-related activities, these channel issues are largely irrelevant.

5.        If inventory is involved,  (a) identify the three or four major kinds of inventory needed for your organization (retail stock, finished products, raw materials, supplies, and so on), and (b) suggest ways to reduce their costs.

6.        (a) Rank the four customer service factors (time, dependability, communication, and convenience) from most important to least important from your customers’ point of view, and (b) identify actions for the one or two most important to serve customers better.

Step 13: Retail Channels
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 13: Retail (Brick n’ Mortar / Digital) Channels

Does your marketing plan involve using retailers?  If the answer is “no,” read no further and do not include a retailing element in your plan.  If the answer is “yes”:

1.        Develop your retailing strategy by specifying the details of the retailing mix.

2.        Describe an appropriate combination of retail pricing, store location, retail communication, and merchandise assortment.

3.        Confirm that the wholesalers needed to support your retailing strategy are consistent with the channels and intermediaries you selected in the prior step.

Step 14: Integrated MarCom
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 14: Integrated MarCom

Now we’re getting to the good “Internet Marketing” space that you may have been waiting for…the prior, traditional marketing steps needed to be considered first, before focusing on the digital marketing tools required to developing one’s eMarketing Plan.

Integrated Marketing Communication also referest to Cross-Channel Marketing…it is a hybrid of combining all possible marketing tools (as needed) into a strategy that enables a firm to best promote it’s brand, products and services.

To develop the promotion strategy for your marketing plan, follow the steps suggested in the planning phase of the promotion decision process.

1.        You should (a) identify the target audience, (b) specify the promotion objectives,
(c) set the promotion budget, (d) select the right promotion tools, (e) design the promotion, and (f) schedule the promotion.

Answers:

a.        Target audience.  Is there more than one?  Who are they?  Does the same promotional approach work for all?

b.        Promotion objectives.  Do promotion objectives differ by target audiences?  Is the main objective increased awareness?  Trial?  Repeat purchase?

c.        Promotion budget.  In the break-even analysis developed earlier, was the promotion budget included?  Is it reasonable in light of the promotion objectives?

d.        Promotion tools.  Is our stress on advertising, personal selling, etc.?  Are these tools the ones most effective in reaching our target audience and achieving our promotional objectives?

e.        Promotion design.  If we are using a yellow page ad or a direct mail ad, what should it look like?

f.          Promotion schedule.  Does demand for our offering vary seasonally?  If yes, shouldn’t this be reflected in our scheduling decisions?

2.        Also specify the pretesting and posttesting procedures needed in the implementation and control phases.

Answer: In Question #2, pretesting and posttesting of promotional ideas is often difficult for small businesses because of cost.  It may simply involve a question to ask new customers, such as “How did you hear about us?”

3.        Finally, describe how each of your promotion tools are integrated to provide a consistent message.

Answer: Question #3 really addresses how to have an integrated marketing communication program in which each promotional tool complements and supports the others.

Helping with Common Student Problems

What students are asked to do in Questions #1, #2, and #3 above is a very, very big order.

In fact, if done in detail for a large business, this could be a complete promotional plan written for a promotion or advertising course.  However, this experience could be both fun and frightening for students if they are actually trying their hands at writing a promotional piece to include in their marketing plans.  For simplicity, have student outline a public relations, sales promotion, or direct marketing strategy.

Step 15: Adv, PR & Sales
BUILDING YOUR MARKETING PLAN

Step 15: Adv, PR & Sales

To augment your promotion strategy:

1.        Select the advertising media you will include in your plan by analyzing how combinations of media (e.g., television, Internet, radio, and yellow pages) can complement each other.

2.        Select your consumer-oriented sales promotion activities (coupons, deals, premiums, contests, sweepstakes, samples, loyalty programs, point-of-purchase displays, rebates, and/or product placements).

3.        Specify which trade-oriented sales promotions and public relations tools you will use.

Answer: The feasibility of using each of the five promotion tools varies tremendously depending on the topic of the marketing plan.  Probably nowhere is this truer than in the three promotional tools covered in Chapter 15.  For example, a marketing plan for an Internet café in terms of cost effectiveness might be able to justify only yellow pages ads and Internet advertising—consumer-oriented sales promotions, with trade-oriented sales promotions and public relations being impractical.  In contrast, other retail operations might stress some consumer-oriented sales promotions, such as samples or point-of- purchase displays.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students should be encouraged to include some samples of creative promotional ideas in their marketing plan or in an appendix to it.  Examples include sample advertisements, point-of-purchase displays, or a news release to be used in public relations.  These examples move students from the level of “telling how to do it” to actually “doing it!”

Step 16: Social Network Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 16: Social Network Strategy

Remembering the target market segments you identified in for your marketing plan:

1.        (a) Identify which one of the four social networks described in the chapter would be most useful and (b) give your reasons.

a.        The choice of one of the four social networks by a student to help market his/her new business involves matching (1) the special communications needs of the new business (local or national market, product or service, easy versus difficult to understand, existing media and websites already used, etc.) with (2) the unique strengths and weaknesses of each of the four social networks (monthly unique visitors to the network, audience demographics, importance of feedback, ability of network to communicate complex product or story, etc.).

b.        As an example, let’s assume the student is writing a marketing plan for a fairly complex new technical product whose benefits are better understood by being seen in some way rather than being simply described in words.  In that case, the student would choose YouTube to post a video that clearly demonstrates the benefits and use of the technical product.

2.        Briefly describe (a) how you would use this social network to try to increase sales of your products and (b) why you expect target market customers to respond to it.

a.        The student should start by identifying (1) the clear points of difference to communicate to target market prospects and (2) the complexities that have to be explained clearly, and then develop a really creative way to incorporate these factors into a short video.

b.        In an ideal world, the student’s video might be both entertained and very informative.  This was the case with the OK Go videos described in the chapter.  Google, YouTube’s owner, offers a search engine so users interested in the video’s topic can find it.  To get viewers back to the seller’s website, the video description should contain a hyperlink to permit follow-up and conversations with potential customers.

Helping with Common Student Problems

Students’ love of favorite social networks can easily distract them from making rational strategy choices.  Selecting one of the social networks or digital tools might be done more rationally by developing a table.  The most familiar are in the four columns.  The special communications needs mentioned in the first paragraph above might be the rows in the table.  The student can use this table to help make a reasoned choice.

Step 17: Sales Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 17: Sales Strategy

Does your marketing plan involve a personal selling activity?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include a personal selling element in your plan.  If the answer is yes:

1.        Identify the likely prospects for your product or service.

2.        Determine what information you should obtain about the prospect.

3.        Describe how you would approach the prospect.

4.        Outline the presentation you would make to the prospect for your product or service.

5.        Develop a sales plan, focusing on the organizational structure you would use for your salesforce (geography, product, or customer).

Answer: For some businesses, personal selling activities are the single most important factor in success.  For student marketing plans for which this is true, this Building Your Marketing Plan focuses on the first four stages in the personal selling process: prospecting, preapproach, approach, and presentation.  A detailed description of these steps is appropriate for marketing plans where personal selling is a key to success.  For other plans, this section is not pertinent.

Step 18: Digital Strategy
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

Step 18: Digital Strategy

Does your marketing plan involve a marketspace presence for your product or service?  If the answer is no, read no further and do not include this element in your plan.

If the answer is yes, then attention must be given to developing a website / app in your marketing plan.  A useful starting point is to:

1.        Describe how each website / app element—context, content, community, customization, communication, connection, and commerce—will be used to create a customer experience.

2.        Identify a company’s website / app that best reflects your website conceptualization.

Answer: If marketspace presence is important for the product or service in the student marketing plan, then an effective website / app is critical to success.  Clearly, asking the student or team to design an appropriate website is far beyond the scope of a marketing plan for a  marketing course.  But asking students to do a “six-C analysis” of each element in their website and to identify an existing website / app that might serve as a model is appropriate for their marketing plans.

Balance is everything… We still live in a world dominated by traditional media… our marketing plan must reflect this while also taking into consideration all of the possible digital tools that can be included in a hybrid plan. The term hybrid will only be used for a few more years as the inclusion of / use of big data, website, app and social media will become / have already become the norm. As our lifestyle takes us away from traditional TV and the desktop computer and we become more mobile, alternative tools such as the tablets, smartphones, out of home (OOH), outdoor media and interactive displays will become essential marketing tools in the near future, that future being now.

Combine the 18 steps that you’ve followed over the course of the semester via this journal and include the concepts covered from this course to develop an Internet or Digital Marketing Plan.

Step 19: One Page Plan
BUILDING YOUR eMARKETING PLAN

STEP 19: The One Page Plan

Before anyone writes a book, please review these templates as writing a marketing plan does not need to be an epic affair, simply a straight and to the point outline / roadmap / strategy, that is easy to follow and implement.

Template A

Marketing Theme:
Category
Strategy
My reason for existence:

What sets my business apart from the rest:

My ideal customer is:

What’s most important to my ideal customer when they are buying what I’m selling:

What I want to accomplish this year:

The top 3 things that are going to get me there:

How much will each program contribute to my revenue/profitability:

What will trigger my ideal customer to think of me:

Programs I  am running to reach my goal

How much money will I need to get it done?

Template B

“THEME”
Category

Strategy
Target Market

Positioning Statement

Offering to customers

Price Strategy

Distribution

Sales Strategy

Service Strategy

Promotion Strategy

Marketing Research

Any other component of your marketing plan

Template C

Sample marketing plan

Table of Contents

Executive summary                                                                                                  Page #
Situation analysis                                                                                                      Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

Marketing strategy                                                                                                    Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

Financials                                                                                                                        Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

Implementation and Contingency                                                                  Page #
<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

<Add subsections and page numbers>

Executive Summary

In half a page or less summarise the most important aspects of the business. Cover aspects of who the company is and what it is about, including unique aspects. Briefly describe the company’s history.

In a new paragraph describe the company’s mission, vision and its goals (including financial and non-financial). You may also choose to include a paragraph about core competencies.

Situation analysis

This section is comprised of several components. Before each component is broken down in detail, provide a general situational context: e.g. Company X is in its second year of operation in the mechanical industry, providing solutions in x, y and z. Key things to mention about the company are the ‘what’, and ‘how’.

Market summary
In approximately two pages describe who your most important customers are: Describe the market demographic, their needs, trends, growth, and sensitivities (including likes and dislikes).

SWOT analysis
In one page, break down the company’s
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

Competition
In between half to one page, describe your competition: Who are they? What is their offering? What do they do better than you? How are they a threat to your business?

Services
What are the primary services or products offered by your company?

Keys to success
What distinguishes your business from the competition? List points for what needs to be done to stand above competition and stand out in the market? Are there critical issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve success?

Marketing strategy

In a paragraph describe the company’s mission, marketing objectives and financial objectives.

Target market
Detail market demographic including their needs, trends and growth

Positioning
Where are you in the market and where do you intend going?

Marketing mix
Detail the proposed marketing mix through:
Product strategy
Distribution strategy
Promotional strategy
Pricing strategy
Market research

Financials

Describe the company’s budget, schedule and monitoring. Then in greater detail describe:

Break-even analysis

Sales forecasts
including a breakdown by partner, segment and region if applicable

Expense Forecast
including a breakdown by partner, segment and region if applicable

Linking expenses to strategy and tactics

Contribution to margins

Controls  & implementation

What is the purpose of the marketing plan and consequently what areas will you be monitoring?
Eg:

Customer acquisition cost
Repeat customers
Customer satisfaction

Implementation involves setting and following milestones through a specified time frame and anticipating difficulties and risks with contingency plans.

 

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