In this assignment, you’ll make promotion decisions about communicating with customers and other key audiences. You’ll also determine the specific roles of advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion in your marketing plan. Review your marketing objectives and what you know about your customers and the marketing environment as you continue answering questions. 1. The first step in planning for promotion is to decide on your objectives, which will lay the foundation for your communications activities. If your product or brand is new, creating awareness and encouraging product trial may be high priorities for promotion. If your product has never been carried by intermediaries, you may set objectives for facilitating reseller support. Review your answers to earlier assignments as you decide on your promotion objectives, then write a paragraph explaining your reasoning. 2. With your promotion objectives, your customer analysis, and your SWOT analysis in mind, think about which promotion elements you might include in your marketing plan. Do you have the money and time to mount a national advertising campaign? Do you need the credibility of publicity through established media outlets? Does your product need to be explained or demonstrated by sales representatives? What incentives might induce customers to try a new product or keep buying an existing product? How do members of your target market typically hear about a product like yours? Will you need communications aimed at intermediaries to push the product through the channel or communications aimed at customers to pull it through the channel? Write an overview paragraph summarizing your thoughts about marketing communications, and include a few words about implementation and evaluation. Exhibit 17.2 3. How can you harness word-of-mouth communication to get people talking about your product, its features and benefits, and/or its competitive superiority? Consider what you’ve heard about competing products or conduct a quick online search to see reviews and comments about competing products. Look back at your SWOT and your competitive analysis. What messages do you think would be most compelling for customers to share with one another? In particular, if your product is new, how can you encourage viral sharing of your message? Write 2-3 sentences about your use of word-of-mouth communications. 4. Next, give some thought to how you might use advertising to achieve your promotion objectives and your marketing objectives. If your product is new or unusual, would informative advertising be helpful for stimulating demand for the product category? If your product has particularly superior attributes and benefits, would comparative advertising be a good way to demonstrate its advantages compared with rival products? If your product is already on the market, what about persuasive advertising or reminder advertising? Write 2-3 sentences about how you might use advertising to achieve your objectives, if you have the resources, and add 1-2 sentences about the possible costs and scheduling. 5. Still thinking about advertising, identify your exact target audience. Remember, the person who sees or hears your ad may not be the person who buys your product or the person who uses your product. Set specific objectives for your advertising campaign, such as “selling 1,200 units during the six weeks of the campaign” or “signing distribution deals with 25 retailers during a two-month campaign.” Write 2-3 sentences about your target audience and your advertising objectives, noting any cost or schedule implications. 6. No advertising campaign can mention everything about the product and brand. This is your opportunity to focus on the few selling points that would be most compelling and important to your target audience. For example, one selling point might be “high fashion but not at a high price.” Based on what you know about the audience’s attitudes and preferences, and what they think or do about competing products, write three bullet points succinctly stating the key selling points. 7. Now think about what your advertising should actually say. Don’t draft an ad, but do look at the selling points you want to convey (via words or images or both). Determine whether you think a lot of text will be needed to inform the audience, or whether a product demonstration would effectively convey your product’s key benefit. If necessary, return to the previous question and revise the selling points you identified. Write a paragraph describing your approach to the advertising message. Add a sentence or two about how you can evaluate your campaign’s effectiveness. 8. Considering the creativity and content of your ad message(s), the geographic areas you want to cover, and your ad objectives, which media should you use to reach your target audience(s) and convey your selling points? Would print media such as newspapers or magazines fit your audience, your probable implementation schedule, and your likely budget? What about direct mail, radio, TV, or outdoor ads such as billboards? How can you use interactive media to communicate with the target audience and, if possible, encourage positive word of mouth and viral sharing of your message? Write a paragraph explaining your media ideas. Note the impact on schedule and costs. 9. Public relations can help you forge or strengthen stakeholder relations and influence public perception of the brand and product, which in turn support achievement of advertising and marketing objectives. How can you use publicity tools like press conferences, news releases, and special events to call positive, credible attention to your brand, product, or image? Write a paragraph outlining your ideas for public relations activities, and what the schedule might be. 10. Is personal selling appropriate for your product, target market, and marketing environment? Take time to consider whether you need your own sales force or whether you can train intermediaries’ salespeople to explain the product, complete transactions, and provide customer support. What issues would you face in having an in-house sales force, compared with relying on intermediaries to handle personal selling? Write 3-4 sentences about your ideas concerning personal selling. Jot a note about implementation if you decide to include selling in your plan. 11. Whether you’re marketing a consumer or business product, sales promotion may help induce customers to buy or induce resellers to carry your products. Look at the possibilities for using coupons and cents-off offers, refunds or rebates, frequent-user incentives, point-of-purchase materials, free samples, premiums, and contests, games, or sweepstakes. How does one or more of these sales promotion techniques fit with what you know about your target audience and their buying patterns? Also explore trade sales promotion possibilities, including trade allowances, cooperative advertising, free merchandise, premium money, and sales contests. Which of these techniques might be appropriate, given the nature of your product and your distribution plans? Write 3-4 sentences about including sales promotion in your marketing plan, and make a note about timing and budget for implementation purposes. 12. Optional, as your instructor directs: Work with another student or on your own to view at least three commercials, YouTube videos, or other promotional messages created for a product that competes with yours. Based on the message content, describe the probable target audience (consumer or businessperson, age range, gender, family situation, needs to be satisfied or benefits sought, and so on). Also identify at least one selling point in each message. How can you apply what you’ve learned from this analysis to strengthen your own promotion strategy? Write a paragraph or prepare a brief (three-minute) presentation about these messages and what they reveal about the competitor. 13. BUILDING YOUR MARKETING PLAN: Transfer your answers to Questions #1 through 11 to the “Target Market and Marketing Mix” section of the Marketing Plan you’ve been documenting. Organize and group your answers under a “Promotion” heading within the “Marketing Mix” material. As before, place information about schedule, cost, and performance standards in the “Budget, Schedule, and Monitoring” section. Reread your entire marketing plan with an eye toward setting a schedule for implementing activities. Even if you don’t have a lot of details, draw up a preliminary timetable for marketing. Do some rough calculations for a marketing budget, based on your decisions about marketing objectives and strategies. Next, with objectives and strategies in mind, identify a few key performance standards (such as checking sales levels weekly or monthly) that will enable you to determine whether your plan is working as expected. How will you monitor performance and make changes, if needed, to achieve the expected performance? Document your ideas in the “Budget, Schedule, and Monitoring” section of the plan. Review every section of your document, and reorganize and edit to clarify the content. Call attention to key points as you draft the “Executive Summary.” This opening section should be no more than two pages long, based on revised answers to your questions from Part 1 and drawing from the highlights of every section in the plan. If possible, ask another student to read your plan and suggest improvements.