Here is the brief overview of this cumulative Session Long Project (SLP). In this research project, you would work as a marketing consultant to develop a feasible marketing plan for your client. You would conduct both secondary research in SLP1 and SLP2 to glean the necessary information for your marketing plan in SLP3 and SLP4.
It is important to conduct quality market research on your focal product/company in order to develop realistic and workable marketing plans. Generally speaking, there are two types of research. One is secondary research, which refers to data collection using existing sources, and the other is primary research, which is your own data collection for the specific study at hand. The purpose of market research is to collect usable information to make more informed decisions on the business problem, thus increasing the chance of business success in the marketplace.
Please check the outline of the marketing plan, which provides information on:
- The final format for this cumulative Session Long Project;
- A list of topics for the whole project;
- The continuity and connections among SLPs 1-4.
In this module SLP3, conduct the issue analysis based on the secondary research results in SLPs 1-2. Then develop goals and objectives, as well as the specific marketing strategies to accomplish your charge. This is the third step of this cumulative research project and you are developing marketing plans for your charge. Be sure to revise the sections in SLPs 1-2 and include them in this paper following the marketing plan outline provided above.
The situation analysis and SWOT Analysis are the basis for the Issues Analysis. Here the primary focus should be on the charge for your research project. What are the most important issues and decisions that the organization is likely to face when trying to accomplish the charge? Further, if the previous research steps (situation analysis and SWOT analysis) have shown that previous marketing efforts were unsuccessful (and why), you should include the lessons to be learned as issues.
In general, issues can include, but are not limited to (the issues depend on the charge of the respective marketing plan and are likely to differ from plan to plan):
- Should the company focus on the charge in question?
- What rate of growth is necessary and sustainable?
- Does the company need to increase promotion to thwart the competition or to successfully reach its target market?
- Does the company need to develop new promotional efforts to reach the identified target market?
- What would be the most promising way of communicating with the target market?
- Does the company need to increase the target market’s knowledge base?
- Does the company need to address/change the target market’s belief systems?
- Does the company need to develop persuasive messages tailored to the specific brand at hand?
- Does the organization need to work on its reputation?
- Is the company’s current distribution in order?
- Should the company review its pricing strategy?
- Does the company anticipate any major competitive attacks in its current markets?
Note: Be realistic when proposing issues. For example, suggesting that the company should invest funds in stocks or real estate is not appropriate for the marketing plan. First, it has nothing to do with the charge at hand; second you are unlikely to have enough information to address this issue in the following sections (i.e., goals, objectives, and implementation).
Also do not list questions in your issue analysis. Instead you should list the issues in a descriptive way based on the situation analysis and SWOT analysis results.
Goals and Objectives
Both goals and objectives need to be driven by the Issues Analysis.
Establish corporate goals: qualitative statements of desired general accomplishments that are indicative of the direction and priorities of the company or the outcome that the company hopes to accomplish (e.g., to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, increase consumer knowledge, change consumer beliefs, persuade the target audience to buy the new brand, have the most-recognized and effective advertising campaign in the industry, improve service quality, have lower prices than all competitors, increase market share, produce the most loyal customers in the industry).
Set specific measurable corporate quantitative objectives: targeted dollar amount of sales; number of iPad 4 sold; targeted market share; etc. That is, you need to express the goals you have outlined above in quantitative (numerical) terms, and you also need to place them within a time frame. In other words, the objectives are driven by the goals you outlined above. Please avoid listing objectives that have nothing to do with the identified goals.
Note: If you are dealing with a new product (i.e., your charge), please do not express objectives for the first year in percentage terms. In other words, stating that you would like to increase awareness by 5% for a new product does not make sense, because a new product will start out with a market share (or awareness) of zero and 5% of zero is still zero. In such a case, please phrase your objectives differently (e.g., the objective is to increase the brand awareness among 10% of the target market within the next 6 months).
You should have at least one goal. Please make sure that those goals (and your objectives) focus on your charge and also reflect your issues analysis. You should have at least two objectives for each goal.
The format for this section should look as follows:
Objective 2 (if applicable)
Objective 2 (if applicable)
Marketing strategies encompass recommended positioning, competitive differentiation, and customer value strategy. These include a description of your target market, intended image/position in the market, and the value proposition.
A. Target Market Definition
The process of selecting a target market is one of the most important decisions an organization can make. Most organizations segment the entire population into groups with homogeneous needs. For a market segment to be viable it must be measurable, meaningful, and marketable. A segment is measurable if its size can be determined, its purchasing power can be estimated, and other characteristics can be identified. It may be difficult to segment on the basis of social class, but easy to segment along income levels. A segment is meaningful when it is large enough to have sufficient sales and growth potential to serve in the long run. A marketable segment is one that may be reached and served efficiently. In general, a company wishes to serve the largest possible homogeneous group that also seems to be most likely to be persuaded to buy the product in your charge.
When companies write the marketing plan, defining the target market often proves to be the most challenging aspect of the plan. However, if you do not choose the right markets to target, you will often never achieve complete success. Too often, companies see that their solution can serve the needs of multiple markets and they try to establish multiple markets at the same time. Ultimately, this may lead to failure because they overextended themselves and did not successfully meet the needs of any market. Choose a well-defined market when you write your marketing plan and stick to it until the market dictates a change.
Bases for segmenting consumer markets include demographic, benefit, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics. Demographic segmentation includes the characteristics of age, family size, family life cycle, gender, income, occupation, education, religion, race, generation, nationality, and social class. Benefit segmentation describes why consumers buy a product (e.g., makes me feel good, makes me feel useful, etc.). Psychographic segmentation encompasses lifestyle (e.g., outdoors, athletic), and personality (e.g., compulsive, gregarious). Behavioral characteristics include occasion (e.g., Valentine’s Day, birthday), usage rate (e.g., light, medium or heavy users), or attitude (loyalty).
Note: You do not have to use all of the above-listed bases for segmenting consumer markets. However, demographic segmentation and benefit segmentation will always have to be used. Follow the instructions below:
1. Primary (and Only) Target Market
- Describe the primary target market in demographic terms (use the descriptors that are most useful in terms of your charge).
- Describe the primary target market using benefits sought by that market.
- Describe the primary target market using one of the following bases: geographic, psychographic, benefits sought, or usage (depends on your target and your charge).
- Estimate the number of customers in your primary market.
- Justify the choice of your primary target market (if applicable).
This section is very important. Do not take shortcuts.
B. Strategy Statement
1. Image/Market Position
Positioning is the act of designing the offering and its image so that both occupy a meaningful and distinct competitive position in the minds of the target market.
What is the intended image you wish the product to portray? What is the position you wish the product to obtain?
2. Value Proposition
Why should customers buy from the agency instead of its competitors?
What does the agency have to offer to its customers that outperforms its competitors’ products?
SLP Assignment Expectations
Use the following outline to organize your paper. Note that the letters “a, b, c…” and the numbers “i, ii, iii, iv…” and “1, 2, 3, 4…” below are used to show the major issues you need to include in your paper, but should not be used to format your paper.
V. Issues Analysis (2 pages maximum)
- Given your complete marketing analysis, what are the key issues that the company/organization must understand in order to address the charge that is being considered?
- Note: This section concisely identifies the most important issues and decisions that the organization is likely to face when trying to sell the product in your charge.
- Bullet points (or numbered statements) are acceptable.
VI. Goals and Objectives (2 pages maximum)
- The goals and objectives should be stated clearly and concisely.
(Think S.M.A.R.T. i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound).
- Each goal/objective should be easily understood given your previous analysis and summary of key issues.
- Do not “discuss” the goals/objectives. Just present them.
VII. Marketing Strategy Statements (2-6 pages)
- Note: These are literally statements
- Do not provide detailed descriptions.
- These statements will guide your implementation.
- These statements should be logical given your analysis and goals.
- Target Market Definition
- Note: This is a short, final description of who your action plan will be intended to reach. You may simply be restating target population previously identified.
- Describe the target market in demographic and/or psychographic terms.
- Describe the key benefits/behaviors this target market seeks/prefers.
- Estimate the number of customers in this segment.
- Strategy Statements
- Value Statement
- Why should “customers” adopt your strategic initiative?
- What does your initiative provide (or what do you suggest it provide) in order to encourage/support behavioral change?
- Identify “the set of benefits that the strategy offers.”
Note: The value proposition is intangible, but it is made tangible through specific offerings/activities.
- Proposition Statement
- What is the key proposition on which the strategy and its activities should be based?
- Refer to the “4 Ps” of marketing.
- Accessibility Statement
- What information or support materials must be made easily accessible?
- Refer to the “4 Ps” of marketing.
- Communication Statement
- What method of communications should be sought? Print/radio and other traditional media? Social networking?
- Value Statement
Note: Use double-spaced, black Verdana or Times Roman font in 12 pt. type size. Include a title page and references. Revise your Module 3 SLP based on the feedback from your professor and your additional research, and include the SLPs from Modules 1-3 in the Module 4 SLP.
Explain clearly and logically the facts you find about your company and charge, and use the required reading to support your positions on the issues. Do not repeat or quote definitions. Your use of the required readings to support your opinions (that is, contentions or positions) should demonstrate that you understand the concepts presented.
Paraphrase the facts using your own words and ideas, employing quotes sparingly. Quotes, if absolutely necessary, should rarely exceed five words.
Academic papers at the master’s level should include citations and references. Look at different sources, especially credible and reputable resources such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, and The Economist, to find the information for your paper. Also use Trident University’s online library databases such as ProQuest and EBSCO to find information for your project. Your discussion on each topic should be a synthesis of the different sources. Taking shortcuts on the number and quality of your sources will result in a poor-quality marketing plan that will be of no use to your client.
Also, it is important that you reference your sources throughout the text of your marketing plan. Take the following paragraph as an example:
“As a result, telephone interviewers often do not even get a chance to explain that they are conducting a survey (Council for Marketing and Opinion Research, 2003), and response rates have steadily declined (Keeter et al., 2000) to reported lows of 7% (Council for Marketing and Opinion Research, 2003). This decrease presents a problem because not only does it increase the cost of conducting telephone surveys, but it also leads to questions concerning the generalizability of the results (Struebbe, Kernan & Grogan, 1986; Tuckel & O’Neill, 2002).”
There are different citation and reference formats such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. No matter which format you adopt for your marketing plan, make it consistent throughout the plan.
Also note: The marketing plan should use third person business writing. Avoid “we,” “our,” and “you.” Do not use contractions in business writing.
Here are some guidelines on how to conduct information search and build critical thinking skills.
Emerald Group Publishing. (n.d.). Searching for information. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/learning/study_skills/skills/searching.htm
Emerald Group Publishing. (n.d.). Developing critical thinking. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/learning/study_skills/skills/critical_thinking.htm
Guidelines for handling quoted and paraphrased material are found at:
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Academic writing. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/2/
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/563/1/
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Is it plagiarism yet? Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/02/
Your paper consists of arguments in favor of your opinions or positions on the issues addressed by the guidelines; therefore, avoid the following logical fallacies:
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Logic in argumentative writing. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/659/01/
Your SLP should not simply be a list of facts. Take the facts you find about the company, the charge, and the environments that the company faces, and explain how you think those facts will affect the financial future of the product or brand in your charge. The emphasis in grading your paper will be on the breadth and depth of your discussion of each topic, critical thinking, the clarity of your discussion, and the proper organization of the paper.