Strategic marketing plan
The Four Elements of the Marketing Mix
The product (which includes both goods and services) is what the company offers to the market and the consumer. The product has the following constituents: the brand name, logo, functionality of the product, the required level of product quality, product appearance, variability or product range, support, and service level. The product is the first thing that influences value as it forms the first impression. The attractive appearance and the presence of multiple functions increase the perceived value in the eyes of consumers.
The price affects the ultimate profit from the sale of goods. It is based on the perceived value of the product by consumers, the product costs, competitors' prices, and the desired rate of return. The price includes price market entry strategy, retail price, pricing for different sales channels, the policy regarding promotional activities, etc. The price is the most important thing that influences value. Knowing the product price, customers can see what costs they bear and what advantages they receive, thus determining the perceived value.
The place provides access to the product for the target market and means that the product of the company should be present on the market in the right place and at the right time. The place includes markets, where the goods are planned to be sold, the channels, types and conditions of distribution, terms and conditions of product layout, inventory management, and logistics. The place influences value through the expenses of time and efforts needed to get the product: the less these expenses are, the bigger the value is.
Promotion refers to all marketing communications (advertising and promotion at the point of sale, SEO, PR, direct marketing, etc.), which allow attracting consumers’ attention to the product and form knowledge about the product and the need for its acquisition. Promotion influences the value through informing customers about the characteristics and advantages of the product, thus forming the value for customers.
Target Stores provide a wide range of products and services. They offer unique qualitative products and sell own brands and the other famous ones. The items frequently change, so customers feel like they make a bargain. The trademark and the logo of the company are well-remembered and well-known. Moreover, Target spends much money on advertising and promotion. It advertises via TV, newspapers, and the Internet. Besides, it increases the perceived value for customers. In additiion, Target Stores offer sections with items that cost only one dollar (Umanets, 2011). These are the upscale discount stores that are constantly providing weekly sales. However, the prices without discounts are higher than competitors’. The Target has nearly 1500 large stores in almost all states as well as numerous distribution centers that supply products to customers. Thus, time and money spending has lowered, thus increasing the perceived value (Umanets, 2011).
The Three Phases of the Marketing Plan
The marketing plan includes three phases: planning, implementation, and evaluation. The planning phase defines the maintenance of the strategic marketing plan and the way it will support the company’s goals. It indicates products, prices, promotions, and channels used by the company with the aim of bringing the products to the market. It includes such elements as situation analysis, key products and markets, forming of goals, and marketing programs. After the coordination of the future marketing initiatives, the plan needs to be implemented. The implementation phase involves realization of the ideas and putting them into practice. It is significant to follow the plan as closely as possible, since some mistakes or obstacles that may prevent proper implementation may be found. The implementation phase includes such elements as obtaining of resources, creation of marketing organizational structure, development of timetable, and implementation of marketing programs. During the last phase, the company estimates the effectiveness of the plan implementation and, as a result, makes corrections and arrives at conclusions. The evaluation applies to particular aspects and general goals of the marketing plan. The evaluation phase includes such elements as the comparison of the results achieved with the planned indicators in order to identify possible deviations as well as the elimination of negative deviations and using positive ones.
Thus, before the admission campaign, GSU might create a marketing plan for attracting new students, highly qualified personnel or fundraising from the government or investors. At the planning stage, it can make a SWOT analysis by identifying what it can offer, the number of people needed as well as advertising campaign. At the stage of implementation, the plan will be implemented. At the stage of evaluation, the results will be assessed and measured (e.g. the number of new students and personnel will be compared with the planned number, and the quality of new personnel will be compared with the planned quality) (“Marketing Plan Documents,” 2012).
The Social Media Engagement Process
The engagement process involves action, the prospect for cooperation as well as allegiance and favor from the side of customers. With the help of social media tools (blogs, microblogs, etc.), the customer actively interacts and engages with companies and their social networks. This engagement process can be both negative and positive. Positively engaged customers purchase 20-40% more than negatively or less engaged, thus increasing the company’s profits. The social media engagement process consists of three steps: listening, analyzing, and implementing into practice.
Customers always share their opinions in the social media, in particular viewpoints concerning purchases and their interests. The marketers learn about customers through monitoring and listening to their opinions. For example, such company as Dell uses Radian6 tools that use sentiment analysis by processing customers’ opinions in order to be aware of them (Grewal & Levy, 2014). During the analyzing stage, the available information is analyzed through different touch points. First, the amount of traffic is determined. Second, information is gathered regarding who those visitors are and what they are interested in. Finally, information from the other sites is analyzed. When analyzing, such company as Kodak also uses Radian6 that does everything itself (Grewal & Levy, 2014). However, almost every company uses Google Analytics for these purposes as it offers a deep analysis for free. At the implementation step social media tactics are used in order to stimulate customers. Thus, the Applebee hired Expion to help with its social engagement process. Their “do” action is based on focusing on Facebook content rather than that of the other social media, which helps them sufficiently create reliability and trust (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
The Generational Cohorts
Generational cohorts are consumer groups of one generation. These groups have similar behaviors when purchasing and consuming by virtue of their sharing experience and the same age. In the Grewal and Levy’s book the four basic types of general cohorts are described: Generation Z (born 2001–2014), Generation Y (born 1977–2000), Generation X (born 1965–1976), and Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964). Every generation demonstrates different ways of living, consumption behaviors, and bias in favor of marketing activities.
The Gen Z (the Digital Natives) was born already in the world full of gadgets and technologies. They are more globally connected. However, they have much in common with their Generation X parents. Gen Z children still go shopping with their parents, they are developing affinity for the same brands. Thus, the retailer the Gap develops special product lines to accommodate their demands as GapKids and babyGap (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
Gen Y puts strong emphasis on balancing work and life. They also consider marriage as secondary. The younger edge of this group has never lived without the Internet or easy access to cell phones, which makes them technologically savvy. They gravitate towards products and services that foster a casual lifestyle for status (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
Generation X is less interested in shopping and is more cynical unlike their parents, and this factor makes them discerning customers. They require comfort and trust, and believe advertisements less. They are well-informed about the products and are more reluctant to take risks than the other generations (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
Baby Boomers are careless about the way they spend their money, they are heavy Internet users, and tend to do research before purchasing online. They are obsessed with maintaining their youth. They grew up with jeans and khakis and brought casual dressing into the business arena. Thus, recognizing the opportunity, Levi-Strauss developed its Dockers line of casual shirts and khakis (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
The general cohorts’ segmentation is also important when working in groups over a certain project. It gives the ability to understand the peculiarities of people with whom a person is working and guide their abilities and knowledge in the right direction, which will increase the efficiency of a particular project.
Factors Affecting the Consumer Decision Process
The consumer decision-making process model represents steps that consumers take before, during, and after making purchases. The four Ps of the marketing mix significantly influence the consumer decision-making process. Additionally, social factors (family, culture, etc.) have an influence on the way customers make decisions on what to buy. Besides, such psychological factors as motive, attitude, perception, learning, and the way of living also influence the decisions of what to purchase. Eventually, situational factors such as purchase situation, shopping situation, and temporal state (the store design or the time, etc.) can change the customer’s decision. By understanding these factors, marketers can determine how a buyer comes to a particular decision, what influences it, how the customer makes a purchase, and what helps companies to utilize these factors in own favor and influence the consumer decision.
For example, Pizza Patron is shifting its marketing mix so that significantly more advertisements appear in English language in order to attract younger and more multicultural customers, who search information in English (Grewal & Levy, 2014). Taco Bell focuses its advertisements on psychological needs by providing the information about delicious and at the same time low-calorie food. Abercrombie & Fitch play on the influence that reference groups have by hiring sales associates that serve as a reference group for customers by wearing the latest store apparel and, thereby, serving as living mannequins to emulate. Nonni’s redesigned its biscotti packages to include a window in a way the customers could see the products, which made them more appealing and eye-catching (Grewal & Levy, 2014).
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