4.1 The best way to describe a company’s Marketing Plan is to start by articulating its overall Marketing Strategic Approach. Be sure that the Marketing Strategic Approach is established before any of the other sections are composed. The chapter must all describe the same plan in the various sections, and that flows from the details of the Marketing Strategic Approach. Think “Drill Down Concept” – the succeeding sections simply provide additional tactical details that come out of the Marketing Strategic Approach definition.
Use an “Objective” and “Strategy” Technique when creating your Marketing Strategic Approach in Section 4.1. Then describe your detailed “Tactics” in the succeeding sections.
A firm’s Marketing Strategic Approach is its broadly-stated plan for marketing its products or services, which sets the direction for all its daily marketing-related activities. The Marketing Strategic Approach articulates all the specific Marketing Objectives that must be achieved to claim your firm’s position in the market and then describes a broad Strategy that will be set in motion to (hopefully) achieve each specific objective. Tactics then become the various working-level projects/activities/tasks that will be executed day-by-day, to contribute towards accomplishing the Objective. Tactics must align with the direction indicated by the Strategy – they are not independent (drill-down).
There are multiple levels of objective within a company. At the top are the broad company objectives, such as business volume to achieve, business growth to achieve, profit to achieve, etc. Beneath that are individual departmental objectives as to what the department will do to contribute to achieving the broad company objectives.
For example, the total-company objective of “achieving a specified business volume” depends on the contributions of many departments. The Purchasing Department must ensure adequate availability of raw materials, the HR Department must ensure adequate availability of trained employees, the Process Engineering Department must ensure a proper manufacturing facility and equipment is present, the Production Department must ensure that an adequate quantity of products is produced, and the Marketing Department must ensure that the marketplace has adequate demand to consume the products.
So, in this chapter – dealing with the Marketing Plan – the Marketing Strategic Approach should focus on Marketing Department-level Marketing Objectives (not broad company-level objectives).
And, of course, the Marketing Strategic Approach should have as its perspective, the expansion Plan, and the larger company that will result. The Marketing Strategic Approach should establish its marketing objectives to achieve the results contemplated by the Expansion Plan.
The foundation of every Marketing Objective list is making sure that there is an adequate market demand to consume the volume of products the company wishes to sell. It’s not a pull objective – generating unlimited free demand. It’s a push objective – figuring out how to “move” the volume of business that is called out in the high-level total-company objectives.
Here’s an example of ideas that might appear in a Marketing Strategic Approach. It follows the “objective” – “strategy” technique.
One Objective might be to increase consumer awareness of the existence of your product. The Strategy here might be to develop maximum brand exposure in specific media known to be frequented by the target market consumer.
Another Objective might be to increase consumer knowledge of the competitive advantages of your product. The Strategy here might be to establish promotional demonstrations at trade fairs attended by target customers.
Tactics would later be described in the Advertising and Promotions sections and might include such tasks as conduct market research to determine target market media preferences and negotiate contracts with identified media.
The idea is to determine what you need to do to get consumers to purchase your specific product. If your product is generic and well understood, then marketing the brand advantages is primary. But if it’s new or radical, it may even be necessary to train the consumer as to why they need it at all. Articulate all the objectives you hope to achieve with your marketing plan. Typically Marketing Strategic Approaches should include three to five objectives. Each business will be different in terms of the objectives that it wants to accomplish with its marketing program.
These are examples of possible objectives that could be applied to a new innovative product or a solution to a problem that consumers may not be very aware of:
- Create consumer awareness about a problem consumers face (they may not have previously considered it a problem)
- Train consumers that there is a solution for “their problem”
- Show consumers how your new product will specifically benefit them
- Build general Brand Awareness – you may sell other products under the same brand
- Encourage Customers to select your Product rather than Competitor’s
- Bring Customers to the Point of Sale
Finally – here is a typical Flow DiagramChart for executing your Marketing Strategic Approach. The flow chart indicates both what activity is occurring and who is responsible for the activity.
- Marketing Director sets Marketing Objectives (Consumer awareness, Brand awareness, etc.)
- Marketing Director sets Marketing Strategies (Online, Print, Television media, Public appearances, etc.)
- Marketing Team develops Marketing Tactics aligned with the Marketing Strategies
- Marketing Tactics are Executed by the Marketing team
- Performance Metrics feedback loop informs whether Marketing and Company Objectives have been achieved
- Success (Congratulations, expect bonus, pay increase, possible promotion);
- Failure to follow Strategies or achieve Marketing Objectives (revisit Tactics, possibly hire new Marketing team);
- Success… but fail to achieve high-level Company Objectives (revisit Marketing Objectives, possibly hire new Marketing Director)
This flow chart is generic and doesn’t need to be reflected in your Marketing Strategic Approach. It’s only included here so you can understand the typical way that marketing strategic approaches are developed and executed.
The next three sections all relate to the topic of price development.
4.2 You described your competitors in Chapter 3. In this chapter, describe how your product or service is differentiated from the competitors’ products. Identify key differentiators to which customers assign value. Discuss those Points of Differentiation in Section 4.2. Develop the differentiation in such a way that the information can be utilized in the creation of prices in section 4.4.
4.3 Determine your Positioning Plan – how you will position your product to be competitive in the marketplace. If you are first to market and have a monopolistic position, you may want to initially employ a “skimming strategy” where you charge high prices to capture those customers who want to be the first users of innovative technology. If you are entering a saturated market, you may want to employ a “superior features” or a “lower price” strategy, to divert customers away from competitors towards your product. Again, develop the positioning in such a way that the information can be utilized in the development of prices in section 4.4.
4.4 Your Pricing Strategy is a critical issue because it determines how much money a company can earn. The price a company charges for its products also sends a clear message to its target customers. There are two methods for determining the price of a product or service: cost-based and value-based pricing. In cost-based pricing, the list price is determined by adding a markup percentage to a product’s cost. In value-based pricing, the list price is determined by estimating what consumers are willing to pay for a product, and then backing off a bit to provide a cushion. Most experts recommend value-based pricing because it hinges on the perceived value of a product or service rather than cost-plus markup, which is a formula that ignores the customer.
In value-based pricing, first develop a fundamental pricing target for your product, considering your competitors’ prices, as if all factors relating to your product and business are the same as your competitors. Then inject two types of adjustments to arrive at a “bottom line” price for your product considering all the differences between your product and your strategy compared to your competitors.
- Bring out the customer-perceived differentiators you developed in 4.2 and show how the apparent value of those differentiators contributes to developing your ultimate value-based price.
- Bring out the positioning plan that you developed in section 4.3 and show how this conceptual plan translates into actual price adjustments in your ultimate value-based price.
The next three sections deal with your Promotional Program. Your Promotional Program has three elements, advertising, promotions, and public relations. Don’t confuse “Promotional Program” with “Promotions” – as you can see, promotions are just one subset of the overall promotional program. In this template, the Promotional Program is divided into three sections, 4.5 through 4.7. Make certain that the programs described in these sections correspond with the strategy outlined in 4.1.
4.5 The promotional program customarily starts with Advertising. Advertising is making people aware of a product in hopes of persuading them to buy it. Advertising reaches a broad spectrum of consumers who are generally in an early stage of product awareness and purchase decisions.
4.6 Promotions are more focused on consumers who are close to making their purchase decision. Promotions are more hands-on and include such things as demonstrations, displays at trade fairs, etc. They are much more targeted at consumers actively seeking a solution to a need. Promotions can also occur at Point of Sale (POF), to cause consumers to select the product from a myriad of choices on the shelves.
4.7 A third form of promoting the product/brand is through Public Relations. The major difference between public relations and advertising is that public relations messages aren’t paid for. As a result, many start-ups emphasize public relations over advertising because it’s free and it helps build the firm’s credibility.
One issue that is particularly important in executing a promotional plan is to focus on the benefits of a product or service rather than the features. Remember – “Consumers do not buy what you sell. They buy what has value to them.”
4.8 A firm’s Sales Process is the steps it goes through to establish relationships with customers and close sales. How does one bring the customer in contact with the product and create a sale? This can range from mail order to storefront approaches to traveling field sales force. Describe the various steps of your company’s Sales Process in Section 4.8.
4.9 Your Marketing Budget answers the question “How much money do you need in order to deliver the Marketing Objectives of your Expansion Plan” – in other words, how much is this Marketing Plan going to cost over the next five years? Develop a five-year Marketing Budget for the expenses that will be incurred in general marketing, advertising, promotions, public relations, and sales, on a year-by-year basis for the next five years. Display the Marketing Budget figures in a summary tabulation. Show how much you spent in the prior twelve months pre-expansion, to provide a relative comparison. Explain the basis for your budget and the assumption details, to enable the reader to assess its validity.
Use a tabulation to describe your Marketing Budget. The data contained in this budget should drop right into your Financial Statements when you compose chapter 7.