Marketing Plan Guidelines

Introduction

Before a company commits any funds, resources, or capital to any project, market expansion, or research and development, it needs to have a good handle on the potential market outlook as well as risks.

Review the differences between the two types of data collection methods:

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Primary Information Sources

Secondary Information Sources
· Direct observation

· Focus groups

· Surveys

· Experiments

· Internal data sources – The best source of data on current objectives, strategies, performance, and available resources are from the company itself.

· Government sources – Information on the economy, population, and business activities is the major strength of most government data sources. Government sources are also easily accessible and low in cost.

· Book and periodical sources – Articles and research reports are available in the library and other sources on the internet.

· Commercial sources – Trade reports and market research studies are available on websites like the American Marketing Association, or the Advertising Research Foundation.

Analyze secondary information to get a better handle on customer segments and their buying criteria for the brand you have chosen. You will also gain insights into the market landscape, which includes competition, technical information, legal and regulatory issues, supply chain challenges, and other related factors. Through this analysis, you will get a good sense of how well your brand is positioned to compete in the market.

Data Collection Methods

Describe what types of primary and secondary sources you will use to gather information about the brand you selected.

Note: You will need to support your recommendations with secondary research because you do not have time to conduct primary research.

Overview of Brand

Describe the organization and the products or services the brand offers, including the following:

· Description of the brand, including when the brand was founded, the location, size, divisions, product lines, etc.

· Products and services offered by this brand; emphasize the benefits to potential and current customers

· How long the brand has been in the market

· Main selling points of the brand, including how many models, package sizes, and line extensions are marketed by the brand

· The experience of key personnel in the organization, as experience often relates to marketing and business success

Provide an overview of the brand’s financial condition, such as sales, growth rates, capital structure, financial stability, etc.

Include the following items, as appropriate:

· Current objectives

· Overall strategy

· Performance

· Resources

· Financial strength

· Global presence

· Marketing strengths

· Salesforce size

· Research and development excellence

· Supply chain structure

· Stakeholders

Note: You can obtain most of this information from annual reports, 10-K reports, and SEC filings.

Industry Analysis

Identify the industry in which the brand operates and describe the size of the market in sales dollars as well as units sold in the past 5 years.

Analyze past trends in sales, as well as expected trends in the next 5 years, for some of the major brands in this industry, as well as the driving forces behind these trends.

Predict major changes expected in the future.

Conduct forecasting to get an industry outlook for 5 years. Include support from relevant data, graphs, and charts to show industry revenues and projections.

Note: Examine published and industry reports to locate this information.

Customer Segments

Describe current and potential customers and analyze why customers buy the brand, including the following:

· How customers use the products or services offered by the brand

· Buying criteria (e.g., quality, delivery time, prices, discounts, and services provided, such as engineering, installation, repair, financing, training, etc.)

· When and where customers typically buy the brand

Analyze why customers buy competing brands and suggest how non-customers can be converted to customers.

Competitor Analysis

Identify key competitors in the market and list sales and market shares of competitors for the past 5 years.

Identify strengths of competitors in terms of product features and benefits, advertising, promotion, salesforce, research and development, supply chain, manufacturing operations, attractive pricing and discounts, financial strengths, etc.

Discuss competitors’ intelligence regarding legal and ethical issues, tracking and analysis of the total range of competitive activity, including competitors’ capabilities and vulnerabilities concerning sources of supply, technology, marketing, financial strength, manufacturing capacities and qualities, and target markets.

Note: See Table 1 for an example of how you might format this information.

Economic Growth and Stability of the Industry

Examine the general economic conditions of the nation, region, state, and local area in which the industry operates.

Analyze the current state of the economy and the expected changes, such as recession, depression, growth, and recovery.

Examine inflation, employment, and income levels, interest rates, exchange rate changes, taxes, trade restrictions, tariffs, and other factors that affect growth and stability.

Political Trends and/or Legal and Regulatory Issues

Discuss relevant political issues that may be associated with the brand.

Examine laws and regulations that could have an impact on market planning, product design, promotion, advertising, pricing, etc.

Analyze court rulings, as well as the decisions of federal, state, local, and self-regulatory trade agencies to determine their effects on marketing activities.

Discuss the impact of tariffs and other regulations on international operations, if applicable.

Technological Changes

Analyze the impact of technology on the use of computer systems and products by customers.

Discuss the influence of technology on marketing, research and development, and operations.

Analyze what impact technological change might have on new product opportunities.

Position Analysis

Discuss how well the brand is positioned to market its products compared to competitors.

SWOT Analysis

Use what you have learned from an understanding of the industry, competitors, and customer segments to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that exist for the brand:

· Strengths capture the positive aspects internal to your brand that add value or offer you a competitive advantage. This is your opportunity to remind yourself of the value existing within your brand. Discuss which brand attributes make it stronger than its competitors.

· Weaknesses capture the negative aspects internal to your brand that detract from the value you offer or place you at a competitive disadvantage. Discuss which brand attributes make it weaker than its competitors. These are areas you need to enhance to compete with your best competitor. The more accurately you identify your weaknesses, the more valuable the SWOT will be for your assessment.

· Opportunities are external to your brand. Discuss what opportunities exist due to industry or consumer trends. If you have identified opportunities that are internal to the brand and within your control, you will want to classify them as strengths.

· The better you are at identifying potential threats, the more likely you can position yourself to proactively plan for and respond to them. You will look back at these threats when you consider your contingency plans.

Note: See Table 2 for an example of how you might format this information.

Conclusion

Address the following in your overall analysis of the brand:

· Evaluate which SWOT items are of vital importance to the brand and explain why.

· Explain which factors the brand must consider when growing its organization.

· Evaluate how well-positioned the brand is to succeed in this marketplace given your preliminary analysis.

Appendix

Include an appendix with relevant exhibits of data tables and charts to support your narrative. Use a clear annotation system for numbering and referencing exhibits that makes it easy for the reader to locate the data.

 

Sample Tables


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