This forum continues the marketing plan that you began developing in Module 4’s forum. You may change decisions made in the pricing/product portion of last week’s assignment, but the majority of your focus this week will be to develop the distribution and marketing communications aspects of the marketing plan. Together, your decisions should create a consistent and cohesive plan in which decisions made in each area of the marketing mix complement one another.
Preparing for the Assignment
- Read chapter 8 of the Readings in Marketing Strategy (and reread chapter 7 as necessary). If you are distributing your product via Amazon, explore the information found at the link “The Basics of Success: Understanding Amazon Advertising”.
- Download and read the Grading Rubric for the Module 5 Application Forum.
Describe your distribution strategy
- Attend office hours on Tuesday or watch the recorded session in case of questions.
Begin with a paragraph that summarizes the key decisions you made previously with regard to the target market, the product/service, brand name(s) and its pricing and positioning. HIGHLIGHT any new information or changes that you have made, either based on feedback from your coach or in light of decisions you have made this week.
This paragraph should identify 1) the type of product/service you are marketing; 2) its key benefits and points of differentations; 3) a brief explanation of the firm marketing the product (is it a new business or one that exists, and the organization’s name; 4) the BRAND name of the product (and company if not previously mentioned); 5) a short review of the target market, 6) your positioning strategy, and 7) the pricing strategy and your best estimate of the selling price (if selling through retailers, list both the price paid by the retailer and that paid by ultimate consumers), and 8) the launch date that the new product/service will be available for purchase by consumers.
Describe your distribution strategy and channels of distribution. Justify why you think your distribution strategy is better than the alternatives. Be specific in discussing geographic coverage or location, the number of stores, the specific retail chains, etc. Justify your decisions.
- Describe your distribution strategy.
- Describe the geographic scope of your distribution and the number of locations.
- How will consumers find and buy your products?
- Discuss the channels and intermediaries used to market products to consumers. What level of distribution intensity are you targeting (intensive, selective, exclusive) and why?
- Will you use retailers? If so, which ones? Try to be specific as possible in naming known chains (e.g., Bass Pro Shops). Otherwise, specify the type of retailers (e.g., independent sporting goods stores).
- Will you sell direct? How, from your own website? From a brick-and-mortar store such as a bakery’s physical location? How many people will need to be hired to handle sales, shipping, and product returns?
- Will you sell online via Amazon?
- How does your distribution strategy create value for the customer?
- Is there a potential for channel conflict among different intermediaries? What will you do to minimize conflict?
- Is your distribution/supply chain strategy consistent with your positioning, and the product’s differentiation?
- If selling through Amazon, describe the specific services that Amazon will provide. Will they simply send referrals to the company, or will they hold inventory, pick, pack, ship, and deal with returns?
Discuss your integrated marketing communications strategy in detail. Include your plans for advertising, social media, sales promotion, publicity, event marketing, sponsorship marketing, and personal selling.
Creative advertising and media strategy. Provide in-depth, specific information on your advertising and media strategy and justify your choices.
- Describe your creative strategy. What type of brand image are you trying to create with your advertising? Does it fit with your positioning strategy and target market?
- Describe your message strategy. What is the most important point that you are trying to communicate? Can you think of a slogan or tagline to include with your advertising?
- What advertising media will you use? Advertising may include digital (website, banner ad, search, Facebook, etc.), magazine, TV or cable, radio, newspaper, outdoor, movie theatre, and other forms of paid advertising. Amazon offers several methods of paid promotion through its website for those who choose this distribution strategy.
- Discuss the media schedule. What types of advertising will be used at various times of the year? Generally, more money is spent in the first month of product introduction. If your product/service is seasonal, this might also influence your pattern of advertising and spending. Make certain that you clearly delineate what is happening for each of the 12 months you will be marketing the product/service.
Next, discuss the publicity strategy you will you use to introduce your new product as well as any sponsorships or events.
- What publicity efforts will you undertake?
- When will they occur? Generally, publicity is very common when new products are introduced or immediately prior to making them available to the public.
- Where will they be targeted – at what types of media or what publications? Justify your choices.
- Describe any sponsorships or events you’ve chosen to use to promote your product, be they charitable events, athletic events, local events, musical events, or other sponsorships.
- Justify your event or sponsorship choice in terms of the event’s appeal to the target market, any additional benefits, and the cost of the sponsorship.
Consumer sales-oriented promotion strategy and personal selling strategy.
- Discuss the consumer sales promotion (pull strategy) next.
- What types of sales promotions will you use to target consumers? When and how long will each sales promotion be used? Generally, individual promotions last no longer than 30 days.
- Be specific in explaining the promotion and deal, and justify why you think the promotion will be successful. If using a coupon, for example, explain the type of coupon (e.g. instant pull off coupon), the face value, and how the coupons are distributed.
- Personal selling strategy. If relevant, discuss the personal selling strategy used by the company to reach the ultimate consumer. This would be most relevant for bakeries or stand alone company owned stores. If you are distributing through Amazon or retailers ignore this point.
Channel/retailer targeted marketing communications strategy
- If selling through one or more brick and mortar retailers, or online via Amazon, describe the personal selling strategy.
- Who will be contacting potential retailers? How large will the sales force be? How will they be compensated (straight commission, salary on When will they occur? Generally, publicity is very common when new products are introduced or immediately prior to making them available to the public.
- ly, salary plus bonus, etc.) What incentives will be provided to motivate the sales force?
- Describe your specific plans to ensure channel member support. This might include the use of slotting fees for grocery stores or allowances among retailers, retailer staff training, guarantees, co-operative advertising, point-of-purchase displays, etc.
or other forms of trade support.
- Discuss any advertising or publicity targeted at retailers, and the media that will be used to carry the messages. Justify your decisions.
SPECIAL NOTES: Distribution:
- If you are proposing a new business as the creator of your product or service, I suggest you select only a SINGLE channel of distribution. Your choices will be
1) sell direct from (a new) company website marketing the product to consumers; 2) sell through retailers/wholesalers with F2F storefronts (who may also have ecommerce websites); 3) sell through Amazon.
- If you select an existing company (e.g., Proctor and Gamble) to introduce your new product, familarize yourself with the distribution channels that are currently used by the firm for the class of products you are marketing and describe how the new product will be distributed. (Recognize that if you create an entirely new distribution outlet (e.g., store type, retailer, etc.), it will cost more as you may need to hire additional salespeople to service that channel.)
- Although a budget is not required for this exercise, please be realistic in your expectations. Distributing a product nationwide can be an expensive proposition. A brand new firm marketing a single product may not be able to accomplish this in its first year of operation.
- Gaining distribution through Walmart is an unrealistic objective. They have thousands of products trying to gain access to their shelves. Without an established track record of sales, you don’t stand a chance. Plus, Walmart squeezes its suppliers’ profit margins so low that you would find it difficult to meet your finanical objectives for the year.
- Some retailers now expect new company’s to “prove” their product has a market and a successful track record by introducing it first on Amazon.
SPECIAL NOTES – Integrated Marketing Communications:
- Types of marketing communications include things like:
- personal selling,
- special events,
- sponsorship marketing,
- sales promotions,
- and various forms of advertising (TV advertising, radio advertising, magazine advertising, newspaper advertising, outdoor advertising, social media advertising, search engine marketing, video advertising (YouTube), mobile marketing, banner advertising, etc.)
- Be as specific as possible in selecting media and providing details. For example, if using magazine advertising, which magazine titles will you select and why? If using banner advertising, what websites will you select? If using search engine marketing, what are some of the key words you will choose?).
- Think through the different types of sales promotions you might use for consumers and retail/wholesalers (if they are part of your distribution strategy). Also consider what each method might accomplish. Will sampling be part of your consumer sales promotion strategy? It is effective in getting people to try products, but it is also very costly.
- Different distribution methods require different forms of marketing communications. For example, if you select AMAZON, you might want to use Amazon Sponsored Product Ads or other forms of Amazon promotions, as well as social media marketing and perhaps other forms of mobile or digital advertising. If you are distributing through retailers, a personal sales force IS CRITICAL to your marketing communications plan as they will be responsible for building customer relationships with retailers and getting the product placed. Trade promotions targeting retailers would also be important. These are just a couple of examples.
- As you work through this portion, think about what you are trying to accomplish by using each form of communication. For example, publicity and advertising build awareness (and some forms of advertising can help generate sales); personal selling builds distribution with retailers or sales at the local/store level; sales promotions targeting retailers /wholesalers helps secure distribution and retailer cooperation (in advertising the product, or using POP displays); sales promotions targeting consumers generates trial, repurchase, and sales. Sponsorships build awareness and good will. These are just a few examples.
- Network TV ads cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per spot. A brand new firm marketing a single product will NOT be able to afford this type of advertising.
- Advertising needs to be sustained over time. Think about scheduling your efforts over an entire 12 month period of time.
- Make certain the advertising media you select compliments your method of distribution. If you are distributing via Amazon or your own website, search engine advertising and digital advertising will often draw people to the website who are actively searching for products.
Submit Your Answers to the Module 5 Forum Post Originality Check no later than 11 pm CST August 7th.
- Submit the Word document containing the responses of your post to the Originality Check link as you have in the past.
- If your similarity percentage is greater than 15%, you must revise your answers. Forums with similarity scores higher than 15% will not be graded and will receive a score of zero. Your final submission to the originality report check is due no later than 11:00 pm on Sunday, August 7th (though this leaves you virtually no time to post to the forum). PLAN YOUR TIME ACCORDINGLY.
- Be aware that some similarity reports do not generate immediately. This is particularly true when the system is receiving many papers at once. If you submit late on Sunday evening, you run the risk of being unable to complete your forum post by the 11 pm deadline. The reply is due by 11:55 pm. There is a 30-minute editing window between when you make your post and when you can review the posts of other group members.
- DO NOT RESUBMIT your paper if your similarity report is not returned Turnitin will assume you are submitting a revision.
- Download your Final Similarity Report once it becomes available and meets the similarity threshold of 15% or less. You will attach this document when you copy and paste your post into the Application Forum window.
Submit Your Answers and Similarity Report to the Forum
- Click the “Application Forum – Module 5” link under the Application Discussion Forum Heading.
- Click your Group.
- Click Reply at the top of the page.
- Click the “Advanced Edit and Options” link underneath the forum window.
- Copy and paste your answers from your Word document into the discussion forum textbox.
- Attach the PDF copy of your similarity report.
- Submit your post.
- Read your post after submission, edit as necessary.
- Wait 30 minutes for the editing time window to expire.
- Reply to a peer by 11:55 pm.
Your final similarity report must accompany your discussion post as an attached PDF file.
Both your post and your similarity report are due by 11:00 pm on Sunday, August 7th. Posts without similarity reports will not receive a grade.
If you forget to attach the similarity report to your post before the editing window ends, REPLY to your post and attach it to your reply.
Reply to A Peer
A substantive reply to a peer is due no later than 11:55 pm on Sunday, August 7th by 11:55 pm. There is a 30-minute editing window following the time you make your post containing your answers to the discussion questions. You will not be able to view your peers’ posts during this time, which is why you must post your discussion answers before 11 pm Sunday evening.
To qualify as a substantive reply, your response to a peer’s post should be just as diligent and thoughtful as your original post. Read several posts before deciding which one you will use for your reply. A substantive reply:
1) critically evaluates the original post,
2) relates aspects of the original post to text readings or external sources;
3) adds relevant additional information not covered in initial post;
4) offers relevant personal or business perspective; and
5) offers additional recommendations.
You should strive to cover four of the five areas listed above for a perfect score on the peer content reply portion of your grade. Your peer grade will also depend on spelling, grammar, and citation. You do NOT need to submit your peer reply to Turnitin before posting.
Discussion Forum Formatting
Discussion forums are much more casual than college papers. For that reason, we won’t be following the majority of APA writing and formatting rules. You WILL be expected to follow all of the APA in-text citation and referencing rules. Please adhere to the following formatting rules for the Discussion Forum (only).
- Do not include a title page with your name, class, date, etc.
- Instead, list a title at the top of your post. Try to make it something more original other than “Application Forum – Module 5” so that your title is less likely to match anyone else’s title.
- Do not include an abstract
- Do not include a table of contents
- Write your response to the forum questions in paragraph form.
Use headings and subheadings to address and organize responses to the various questions, but don’t label them “Question 1” and don’t use the questions themselves as your headings or subheadings. Doing so could inflate your Turnitin score. Instead, use a subhead for each question that summarizes the essence of the discussion or the paragraph.
- Use single-spacing as it is easier for the eye to read online.
- Use a 12-point font. Times New Roman is universal and should be fine, but sometimes Moodle will change the formatting once you paste your copy to the forum.
- Make certain that you double-space between paragraphs so that a blank line separates each paragraph.
- Keep your paragraphs short, so they are easy to read online. Following this guideline is critically important.
- Provide an in-text (parenthetical) citation for both direct quotes and any information that is summarized, paraphrased or otherwise not your own thoughts;
- Provide a full reference for all sources at the end of the post;
- Use the APA style for all citations.
- It is critical that you center the word “References” (without quotation marks) at the end of your post before listing citing the full references in alphabetical order at the end of your post. If you forget, Turnitin will not ignore your references, and you can bet that they will match something somewhere, artificially inflating your score.
- Limit the use of direct quotes to no more than two quotes, and place quotation marks around the material quoted (even if you change a word in the middle of a longer sentence);
- If you have not done so already, I strongly recommend that you install the Grammarly extension for your browser and the add-in for Microsoft Word (grammarly.com).