You are asked to prepare a marketing plan including a persuasive financial assessment of your planned activities. The target audience for this plan is the Board who will give you the resources to make your plan a success. Your document therefore needs to be well-presented and deliver a concise but compelling business case. The format of the assignment is a written report.
At the heart of what strategic marketing “does” is to plan: we plan for changes in the environment, new competitive threats, entering new markets, creating new markets, repositioning and new products and services. How much can we sell? And to whom will we sell it? What do they value about our offerings? How will price affect demand? Is the target market reachable through communications? If we spend more on communications, how much more will we sell? Who are our competitors and how will they respond to our initiatives? Should we distribute direct or via intermediaries? How much service should we offer and at what price? What is the impact of our decisions about marketing strategies on the resource base of our organisation: people, processes, technology, locations? We plan, we calculate. What is the impact of marketing’s strategic choices upon business performance and shareholder value? We prepare business cases for alternatives, scenarios, if-then analyses. Most of what we plan for never sees the light of day, the business case does not “stack up”: we cannot find a way to build it cheaply enough to sell it for a price that generates sufficient demand, we cannot find a positioning that is unique and motivating for consumers or the target market is not addressable by us. That which you see in the market is normally the result of careful planning and assessment. Key assumptions are made, and reassessed continually during the planning period, adjustments are made, the business case revisited frequently – at least, that is how it should happen. For those of you with military backgrounds, this should all be very familiar.
In creating a strategic marketing plan, we hope that you will learn experientially about how all the elements we cover in the module interact, the interdependency of segmentation, targeting, positioning and it’s relation to our offerings (price, physical goods or packaging or services, communication, distribution, people, processes, etc.) and how they all add up to a business case. We are not focusing on the minutia of creative execution of advertising, the ratio of promotion spending between TV and paid search, sales force compensation plans, etc. You will see from the overview document that we are asking you for the “high level” strategic view with just enough precision to create a high-level profit and loss (P&L) statement and discounted cash flow analysis.
The assessment is based upon the intelligent application of marketing theory and frameworks towards the development of practical recommendations. Please read these carefully:
• Please ensure that you cover the first three quadrants of the marketing wheel as laid out in the assessment overview document: Market Sensing, Market Design and Aligning to Customers.
• Demonstrate evidence of critical thought, deeper learning and application of marketing theory and frameworks.
- Ground the analysis in data – you must do a financial analysis of your recommendation identifying new capabilities and resources required.
- Recommendations must be realistic. You are EMBA students – employers expect realistic and achievable ideas. Assess the risks in the plan and identify how you would handle them. We want more than something such as “we will invest in our brand to make it appealing to the target group”.
- Use the marketing frameworks – correctly and with purpose. Avoid dumping every tool you know into the report and hoping something emerges from it. Tell us why you picked the tools and frameworks you did and demonstrate how they inform the recommendations. This is often the weakest element of the plans.
- Make the link or transition between analysis and recommendations compelling and obvious. Avoid leaping to recommendations. For most plans, this will involve a discussion of alternatives and reasons for your choice. Too
- ften we see plans where the up-front analysis is very detailed and professional but has absolutely no impact on what follows.
- Ensure clarity and purpose in writing. Link the thoughts into an overall story.
- Have fun with it. It is a great opportunity to experience how the marketing lens can be focused on a business and to think critically about a company’s marketing activities and strategies. On page 5, you will see how the above guidance translates into the assessment criteria for the Strategic Marketing component of the plan.
Choice of organisation
- You are free to choose whether you want to work on your own organisation1
- r a different one.
- The organisation can be from any part of the world. It can operate in a B2B, B2C or third sector setting.
- If the organisation you have chosen operates in more than one market, then please focus on one of them.
For the Strategic Marketing component of the plan, you are allowed to write a maximum of 2,500 words, while for the Accounting and Finance component of the plan you are allowed to write a maximum of 1,500 words. The marketing plan is therefore a maximum of 4,000 words.
- Areas included in the word count are as follows:
- All materials after the title page and before references and appendices (if applicable).
- All materials include: tables, charts, diagrams, illustrations, screen shots, photographs, infographics.
- Areas excluded from the word count are as follows:
- Title page, References, Appendices.
- Exceeding the maximum word count: If you exceed 2,500 words for the Strategic Marketing component you will have 10 percentage points deducted from your final mark for the Strategic Marketing component for every 1,000 words, or part of 1,000 words, in excess
- f the 2,500 word limit.
1 In case you work on your own organisation and use proprietary data or confidential information, there will be a separate restricted submission point to which only a limited number of people have access to so you can submit the plan in confidence.
Please note that writing less than the maximum word count for the Strategic Marketing component of the plan (2,500 words) does not mean that you can allocate the remaining words to the Accounting and Finance component, or vice versa.
- Please make sure your report is professionally formatted.
- Use 12 point font size and ensure decent margins and line spacing.
- Don’t forget page numbers.
- Clearly label figures and tables numerically and with descriptive text and refer to them in the main text.
- Appendices need to be referred to in the main text in order to be taken into consideration.
- Make judicious use of tables and figures in the main text. Figures and tables should add to the report, not merely replicate what you state in the main text.
- Think about whether you need the appendices you want to include. Everything that is crucial for understanding should be in the main text. Appendices should just provide additional background information for the interested reader and should be concise.
An overview document for the Strategic Marketing component of the individual marketing plan is provided, but please keep in mind that it is not possible to have a generic framework for assessing all opportunities across all contexts. Use the overview document as guidance, but feel free to deviate from it and amend it as necessary. It provides a starting point and ensures that you will use sufficient frameworks only.
Your overall mark for the Strategic Marketing and Accounting and Finance modules will be the average of the two marks you have received for the Strategic Marketing and Accounting and Finance components of the plan. The assessment criteria on the next page indicate how the Strategic Marketing component of the plan will be evaluated.
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