Module 4 – SLP
Distribution & Marketing Plan
Session Long Project
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 SLP4, first develop action plans based on the marketing strategies developed in SLP3 and then evaluate marketing budget for the plans. This is the final step of this cumulative research project. Be sure to incorporate all the work for this Session Long Project (SLPs 1-4) into a complete marketing plan following the marketing plan outline provided above.
Marketing Implementation: Action Plans and Marketing Mix
The action plans and marketing mix are related. That is, the action plans contain a complete description of a marketing program, including its goals and objectives (as previously outlined in the section on Goals and Objectives), marketing mix activities, program evaluation mechanisms and measurements, budget and timing considerations, and quantitative assessments. (A complete description of these final dimensions follows. Follow the format below for action plan outlines.)
Before you begin working on the action plans, consider the total budget amount for your charge. Make a realistic budget estimate for your marketing plan based on the financial situation of the company and its past spending on marketing.
State for each action plan:
- The goal(s) and objective(s) for the action plan.
- The target market at which this action plan is aimed.
- The marketing mix activities needed to implement the action plan.
- Product strategy and programs require consideration of things such as brand name, product features/benefits, differentiation from competition, relationship to delivering value, logo, package design/labeling, complementary products/services, elements of customer service strategy, and programs. Also, this is where the service concept, tangibles, customer-contact employees, and so on, need to be addressed. Depending on the charge of your marketing plan, some of the above may not apply.
- Price strategy and programs require consideration of things such as pricing objectives and relationship to delivering value. Keep in mind that pricing is not restricted to monetary concerns. Customers are likely to compare the perceived benefits of the new brand to the perceived benefits of the existing brand and other competitive brands. In other words, customers are likely to perform a cost-benefit analysis, which means that customers must perceive the new brand to have benefits that are equal to or exceed the perceived costs. When considering pricing issues, also include costs customers are likely to incur in terms of time, effort, and energy. Consider psychological costs (e.g., embarrassment, fear, rejection, etc.) and losses (e.g., aesthetics, familiarity, etc.), and physical discomfort or loss of pleasure.
- Place or distribution strategy and programs require consideration of things such as the selection, motivation, and evaluation of channel partners (if applicable).
- This is also the place to describe any direct marketing programs (mail, telemarketing, catalogs, Internet, etc.) and other accessibility issues (e.g., number of local stores, etc.).
- Promotional activities
- Advertising strategy and programs that require consideration of things such as advertising message (what will be said, unique selling points, benefits to be stressed, value story, points of differentiation, etc.), creative style (settings, characterization, humor or not, testimonials, etc.), media mix, media schedule, and so on.
- Public relations/publicity strategy and programs that require consideration of things such as how to get press coverage, getting the company/brand name and story out to the public, event-oriented marketing, and so forth.
- Sales promotion strategy and programs that require consideration of things such as contests, sweepstakes, event tie-ins, coupons, premiums (T-shirts, hats, key chains, cup holders, etc.), trade shows, consumer fairs, and so forth.
- Sales force strategy and programs that require consideration of things such as size of the sales force, sales force organization (geographic territory; customer-type based, product based, or some combination; salesperson characteristics and skills to recruit and train toward; compensation; motivation), and so forth. This section will describe selling strategy in terms of sales call emphasis, selling strategy and tactics (what should sales people be doing and saying).
- Other marketing programs that require consideration of methods to systematically listen to the customer, monitor customer satisfaction/loyalty, monitor competition, and become aware of trends that might impact the business. This requires some type of specific intelligence/information-gathering plan.
- Describe the evaluation and measurement procedures to be used to monitor overall performance of the action plan, including quantitative measures and allowable time frames.
- Elaborate on the specifics of plan implementation and quantitative projections. This includes people responsible for programs, budgets, other resources needed, target completion dates, timetables, and so forth. This requires a consideration of who does what, when, and for how much.
Quantitative assessment includes projections of sales dollars and volume, and market share, costs, and so forth.
Format: Action Plan Outline (please use a table format, such as in the example given below)
Title: The title of the action plan should describe the content.
Goal and Objective: What will this action plan accomplish? Which of the goals and objectives does this plan support? Here you need to go back to your Goals and Objectives section and make sure you develop at least one action plan for each of the goals and objectives you have previously outlined. In other words, you do not need to have seven goals in your Goals and Objectives section, a lesser number is acceptable if you develop more than one action plan for specific goals and objectives.
Target Market: At which market is this action plan aimed? Stick to your primary target market. Do not include any “new” target markets here.
Description of the Action Plan: What are the steps being taken to accomplish the objective? This section refers to the marketing mix activities deemed best to accomplish the objective. A rich, detailed description is required.
Who: Who is responsible for carrying out this program? (Name of person or job title)
Timing: When will the program take place? (Start and stop dates)
Budget and Estimated Profitability: How much will the program cost? Give details of the budgetary items for this action plan. Also, you need to include estimated profits and/or expected return on investment.
Measurement: How will the effectiveness of the action plan be measured? How will the organization know that it was successful? Measurement of effectiveness is always quantitative, and may include (depends on your objective) dollar sales, market share, expected customer satisfaction, advertising effectiveness measures, etc., in addition to a time line (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.).
Use the objective and task method and rank the action plans in order of importance. You also need to defend the budget request. The defense should be a strong persuasive argument with a clear rationale. Make sure that you include the profit potential as part of your justification. The defense should be for the total budget amount requested, not for individual action plans.
What We Learned
What did the process of writing a marketing plan teach you? How would you apply what you learned from this process to your current or future career?
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.
VIII. Marketing Implementation (2-6 pages)
- Follow the format provided above.
- Remember, suggest at least one action to be taken that can help achieve your stated goals and that are consistent with your strategic statements.
- What is the cost/budget of implementing the suggested actions?
IX. Marketing Budget (1 page)
You also need to write an Executive Summary and Table of Contents at the beginning of this marketing research paper.
Note: This assignment has been chosen to evaluate students’ writing communication skills. In particular, you need to show how to present quantitative data in tables/charts/diagrams with proper discussion in the text. You would note the different grading rubric used for this paper. Be sure to check the rubric before you write this final paper for the cumulative project. Make sure to include previous sections into the final paper.
Use double-spaced, black Verdana or Times Roman font in 12 pt. type size. Include a title page and references. Revise your previous SLPs based on the professor’s feedback and your additional research. Follow the SLP outline to prepare the final paper.
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 reading to support your opinions (that is, contentions or positions) should demonstrate that you understand the concepts presented.
Paraphrase the facts into 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 the 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.