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Louise Ripley

Introductory Marketing
The Marketing Plan
- Final Exam Substitute (Group Project)

Armstrong/ Kotler Marketing: An Introduction

Appendix 1General Company Information: Canada Goose
Appendix 2 The Marketing Plan: An Introduction
Return to Course Syllabus
Armstrong Kotler textbook cover

Format For The Marketing Plan

General Instructions (read all instructions first)

As a learning exercise in this introductory course, and as your Final Exam Substitute, you will, as part of an E-Team (team-work done electronically), write an abbreviated Marketing Plan to support the launch of a new product, using this Unit web page as your main guide. Following these instructions to the letter will help keep your work to a minimum and help you earn a higher mark. A full-fledged Marketing Plan can run to dozens of pages; your assignment for this introductory level Marketing course is supposed to just give you a flavour of a Marketing Plan without putting you through the rigour of a full Plan.  

Note that most of the Learning Units have Waving Hand exercises that ask you questions to help you apply what you are learning to the specifics of your Marketing Plan. The Learning Units link to this page, and this page has links you can click on to get to the Learning Units.  Where you encounter Waving Hand Exercises that ask about your Plan before you've been assigned to a group, write to the Discussion Group about a product you know, then bookmark the place to come back to once your group starts work - about Week 3.

On Group Work
This is a GROUP Project and you must do it with a group (I will not grade solo papers). It also is an EGroup project: you are to do your work by email or through the Discussion group since many students live truly at a distance. This also is how much work is done in business today so it will give you good experience for your resume.
I request random Peer Evaluations from the groups. If people are not pulling their weight, they may find themselves left behind or moved to another group. Note that no peer evaluation is "final"; you are always up for evaluation of your contribution, including in the last week of the course..

This is a term-long project. START EARLY.

Academic Purposes of the Marketing Plan
As well as being used by university business programmes across North America, the Marketing Plan is recommended as a teaching device by the Canadian Institute of Marketing, which may certify you in the field when you finish your Honours Marketing degree or your Marketing Certificate. Academic reasons for using the plan include:  

To help you better understand the material by relating it to the "real world" of business
To teach you the importance of integrating material and achieving internal consistency
To give you practice in writing concisely and for a specifically requested format
To give you actual practice in constructing a Marketing Plan 

Business Purposes of the Marketing Plan

In an article in the Globe and Mail, Peter Farwell of Ernst and Young listed these reasons for using a business plan (which is larger in scope than a Marketing Plan): 

To provide a sense of direction, a vision of where the entrepreneur wants to take his or her business. This includes identification of a target market, the type of product or service the business will deliver, and its distinctive competence in that market.

To test the economic viability of the business idea. Does it make economic sense? Is there a target market with a need the business can meet and that will allow it to make a sustained and reasonable profit?

To determine if the business can be financed. The business plan is the key vehicle for enabling the entrepreneur to start to make the case to potential investors...In addition to information on economic viability, an investor will want to know the amount required, the use of funds, details of other funding sources, and his/her exit strategy including the timing and expected gain.

To determine if it can be implemented effectively. The business plan is the foundation of the operating budgets. It provides yardsticks against which to measure the companyís performance. As such, it needs to reflect a bottom-up examination of all aspects of the business in as much detail as possible.

Many students have used their experience in drawing up Marketing Plans that they have done in Honours level courses to design a real one to take to a loan officer or investor when starting their own business.

Read The Full Instructions for the Plan
Before you start to write anything, read through the full set of instructions for "The Marketing Plan" so you know what you are going to be doing. There are things in later parts that you should consider first before making a firm commitment in earlier parts. Read instructions carefully. Recognize that when instructions say to use POINT FORM, it means "Point Form" not paragraph and not full sentences. It should be individual points preceded by a bullet. Click here for an example of what is and is not Point Form. When you are asked to LIST something, you are to put it in the form of a list, not a sentence or a paragraph. 

Choose Your Product
Start the process of the Marketing Plan by choosing a product to market in Canada; check below to find a list of possible Product Classes. Consider these product classes a starting point and then think broadly and creatively. Have some fun here: what is something your group thinks the world really needs? What is there a need for out there that no one else seems to be offering? Or perhaps you are thinking less grandly, which is also fine. What product seems to sell well that you could adapt for a different target market or for a different company? Use your imaginations and your powers of observation. If you individually have something you want to market one day for real, you may be able to talk your group into taking it on as their project; some groups have done this in the past. Think about opposites as well; in the category of automobiles, you not only can invent a car or any possible kind of gadget to go in one, you also could market something to reduce the use of automobiles, such as something to do with public transit.  

Note that product can mean a good (hammer), service (haircut), event (The Rolling Stones' Toronto SARS Concert), person (think about how we market politicians at election time), place (vacation in Canada), an organization (York), socially responsible act (quit smoking), experience (going to the Calgary Stampede), or a combination of any of these (a restaurant meal). To a Marketer, these are all products that can be marketed. If you are interested in computers, is there a related service you can think of that you'd like to see marketed? or a socially beneficial plan to make computers available to students from low income families? 

Your chosen product must be something that does not actually already exist for a particular company, but it does not have to be something totally new because that's pretty hard to find. For example, in a product class of soft drinks, you could be a new company bringing out a new cola or orange drink, or you could be Coca-Cola bringing out a new flavour of drink that they don't currently make, but you may not present yourself as Coca Cola developing a Marketing Plan for Diet Coke, because that particular product/brand already exists on the market. 

Follow Format and Instructions 
Read the instructions carefully as they tell you what you are supposed to do. Be sure to include everything, in the correct order, and respecting length limits. Label Everything. Read the text to be sure you fully understand the terms and are using them properly. Do not define terms; just use them in a way that shows you understand them. 

Write succinctly, clearly, and precisely, as if writing for a busy boss with no time to read, or an overworked loan officer who will read someone else's proposal first if yours looks too long and complicated. Decide what you will tell that boss or loan officer in your plan that will make your case quickly, succinctly, and convincingly. Plan the layout to make it enticing to read. The length limits are maximums; if you write more succinctly and do not fill a page but cover the material that is fine. Just be sure to start the next page on a new page. Where instructions say LIST, do so. If you are asked for a list of three items, label them 1., 2., 3. Just about everything in this Marketing Plan is in Point Form (one exception is the Executive Summary). You are not required to put anything in double-spaced format. 

Be sure to follow instructions and include what is asked for, but beyond that, you may use a measure of creativity in preparing your Marketing Plan. Just be sure that you are not substituting creativity for content.

You don't need to do a lot of outside research, but you may need to check out some secondary research on your target market and do some small-sample-size research to find out whether your new idea is feasible. Click here to read more about small-sample-size research. If you cite statistics other than one of general knowledge (general knowledge statistic: the main target market for beer drinkers is young men aged 18-35), cite it briefly within the paragraph where you use it, like this: "A recent article in the Globe and Mail (6/27/03) suggested that attendance at live theatre is lower than it has been in thirty years." If you use a statistic from Stats Canada, keep it simple: "StatsCanada estimates 35,000 new families arrive in Toronto each year from New York State with goats without leashes (Document 93H7Q, 2003:18)." Click here for more on References, but note that you do not need a separate sheet for references. 

Note that beyond these instructions, unlike what you may have experienced in high school, you do not get a sheet detailing exactly what must go into the assignment. At the university level part of the learning process is for you to figure out, as you will have to as a manager, what to put in, what to emphasize, and what to leave out.

Write in your own words only. In a university level course I am not interested in seeing how much material you can copy from the Internet. You may use the Internet for background information if you wish, and of course you will be using your textbook and the website pages, but write the Plan in YOUR OWN WORDS.

How To Prepare Your Document When preparing the paper to hand it in, ensure that all pages are single-spaced, in black type in not less than 11-point font (Times New Roman is best, and use only one font), with not less than 1 inch margins all around, in portrait format not landscape, in single column format, keeping everything as simple as possible - no fancy graphics, no charts, no pictures, no colour - just writing. Write exactly the number of pages specified and as specified. Note that if you choose a font larger than 11, you are still restricted to the set number of pages. Do not put your name(s) on any page other than the cover page (and the Executive Summary page where you list group member names) so that I may mark fairly, without knowing whose paper it is, and be sure not to put individual student numbers on any group work. Use only the cover sheet for the Office of Computing Technology and e-Learning Services; do not create a separate cover page.

Submitting Your Assignment Send the assignment by the deadline listed on the Course Syllabus to the Upload Website for the Office of Computing Technology and e-Learning Services. Send it all as one document; do not send separate parts in separate documents or emails and do not send multiple copies through different group members. Send only one and send it as one document. If handing in the project in person, use ordinary typing paper (no coloured paper, no watermark, no expensive rag bond, no stiff paper, no laminated pages, nothing enclosed in plastic); staple the paper; do not bind it in any other way (no cover). Follow instructions strictly; you lose points for failing to do so. 

From eServices re: Cover Sheet: Assignment Upload will not accept/attach files that have spaces in the file name. Please see the information on this page before your Assignment submission deadline.

Read below for more comments on Writing and Format
and about Assumptions you may and may not make when writing your Marketing Plan. 

This is a term-long project. START EARLY!

The Marketing Plan

The entirety of the Marketing Plan is written single-spaced.
Before starting this, go back and read about Following Instructions

Cover Page
Use the Cover Sheet required by the Upload to CDE Procedure. Your Page 1 will then be the Executive Summary. 

Executive Summary
1/2 page - Page 1

Use Sentence/Paragraph form because you are discussing what your Plan is all about.
On the bottom of this page put the list of group members who should get credit for the project.
Use no student numbers.

In the centre of the top of this page, put the phrase "Executive Summary For [Name of Product]" inserting the name of your product instead of the brackets, then skip down two lines and start to write your summary.  Do not write more than one half page.

The Executive Summary  It is a brief summary of the most important information in your Marketing Plan. Start with a paragraph that consists only of a statement, no longer than 3 - 4 lines, of what your product is, its name, your company name, and to whom you intend to market your product.

The remainder of the Executive Summary should present your main goals and recommendations, to enable top management to easily find the major points of the plan. It is essentially a half-page summary of your entire plan. 

Keep the Executive Summary simple and straightforward. It must be terse but also must include important details. Avoid phrases like, "This is in the plan" or "refer to XYZ." A busy boss or loan officer is not going to go elsewhere to read anything; it's your responsibility to get it all there on the first page. Write concisely in crisp clear business language; persuade with facts rather than with rhetoric. Follow your textbook's advice and write the Executive Summary after you have finished your project rather than when you start. 

E-Team Members
On the bottom of this Executive Summary Page, list the names (names only, no student numbers) of those Group Members who have contributed enough to the project to earn full marks. If the group has decided since the last peer review that any member does not deserve full marks, this is the place to inform the marker (me).

Table of Contents
1 page - Page 2
The Table of Contents is in detailed point form, single-spaced, making page locations easy to find.

1. Current Marketing Situation Analysis
(2 Pages - Point Form, Single-Spaced, Pages 3 & 4)
This is a summary of the market, the environment, the product, the competition, and distribution.

Page 3:

Market Description
Describe your ONE target market segment in detail, approximately 6-7 lines of point form writing. Make a chart to show the Customer Needs and Corresponding Feature/Benefit for that segment.
State briefly why you chose this target market. State specifically what "gap" in the market you are filling, that is, how your product is better than what is currently being offered by the competition.

For the purpose of simplifying this academic exercise, make this target market as narrow as possible and choose ONLY ONE very narrowly specific target market. Obviously in the "real world" you well might target more than one market, but for every market there has to be a full analysis, so this assignment requires that you choose only ONE target market, partly to limit the amount of work you have to do. Click here to review the requirements for effective segmentation when choosing a Target Market.

The "gap" statement relates to competition as well as customer needs. Be sure that what you later write about the competition matches what you say here about the gap. This gap should be a very brief and concise statement of what is not out there that you think there is a need for. Don't just list your product and all the great things it does. Tell us where it fits between what is out there and what is not but there's a need for. This will lead later into your discussion of the competition and eventually of your strategy. 

List the Environments that have the greatest effect on your marketing of your product and state whether each is a positive or a negative effect. State very briefly why it is positive or negative.

Product Review
Summarize the main features of all the company's products. State what other products your company produces, including what it is, what it costs, and who buys it, and describe briefly where the new product fits into your existing product line.

Read about the Boston Consulting Group for some ideas on this; do not use the BCG model word for word, just what may apply to your company's products. This is not a description of your product; you will do that in the Strategy section; this is a brief description of the rest of the products your firm produces (maybe there are none; if so, say so) and how your new product fits in with ones you already market.

Page 4:

Competitive Review  
List the three major competitors you will face when trying to market this product, and briefly state each one's general market position and their strategies. Do this in list form (1.2.3.) with "Position" and "Strategies" clearly labeled for each company: 

Keep these short, terse, concise. Remember that even if you have what seems to be a "new" product that never existed before, there will always be competition; you just need to figure out what it is. For example, if you invent a device that will automatically vacuum your car floor while it is parked and nobody else produces such a thing, your immediate competition is items that do essentially the same thing such as an attachment for the household vacuum or a small vacuum that plugs into the cigarette heater. If you invent something that really seems to have no direct competition such as a device that would automatically warm the steering wheel in winter months, your competition would be anything else that someone could spend money on for the interior of their car -- leather seats, a CD player. There is ALWAYS competition.   

The competition section of the Plan should give you a good picture of what you are up against -- your three main competitors and what are they doing out there that you had better know about. Keep everything properly labelled and CONSISTENT. The Internet can be a good place to find descriptions of other companies' market position and strategies. You also can find these out by observing the product and its packaging and advertisements. 

Distribution Review 
Briefly evaluate the current types of channels used to distribute products like yours and comment on how effective they are. Describe broad recent trends in sales of things similar to your product. State in 1 - 2 lines how you will probably sell your product - the place where it will be offered for sale. 

Note that this goes a little beyond the scope of the example in the Grass Roots Appendix. You're starting to think here about whether you will sell your product as it's usually sold by others right now, or do something different. Following length limits strictly here, recognize that your fuller description of distribution will come in the Strategy section. Here, you speak to broad recent trends in sales of things similar to your product and indicate briefly where you will probably sell your product (on line? at Hazelton Lanes? at Honest Ed's?). This is not the place to write in detail about your 17 trucks and 47 warehouses - you don't have space.

Page 5:
(Point Form, Single-Spaced)

2. SWOT Analysis
Strengths - what do you do well?
Weaknesses - what are you not so good at? Where might you need to improve?
Your strengths section can include a tangible strength (e.g.: state-of-the-art drill press) or an intangible strength (e.g.: goodwill) of your company. 
Opportunities - What's coming that might be a chance for you to profit or succeed? 
Threats - What's coming that might cause you problems?

Strengths and Weaknesses
State one major strength your company has, and one major weakness it suffers. 

Opportunities and Threats
List three specific opportunities and three specific threats, each set ranked in order of importance, clearly labelled, and numbered, with threats separate from opportunities. List them in the proper order (it's what makes it S-W-O-T). This is a glimpse into the future; what you think is coming, what major positive or negative developments might affect your organization and your plans. Describe briefly how you will capitalize on the opportunities available in each case and how you will meet the challenge of the threats.

Make these threats and opportunities specific to your industry and/or company and related to a particular environment. Do not list general things like the "economy" or "competition" as threats; they are threats for any business. And don't list your marketing task as a threat; a threat to a cereal company is not "How to market our cereal."

Some Good Examples of Product-Specific Threats From Previous Student Papers (Plan product in parentheses)

Threat - Increased crime in downtown; 30% rise over the last two years in beatings and shootings (from a Plan for a Downtown Nightclub)
 - Will meet by installing security system, hiring security personnel
Threat - Declining cost of electronic equipment (from a Plan with a product that was highly internet and technology-based)
 - Will meet by hiring recent graduates of high-tech programmes to keep us up to date
Threat - Transmission standards that vary across the world (from a Plan for SmallWorld cell phone)
- Will meet by creating adaptor that will handle various types/levels of transmission

3. Objectives and Issues 
List (label, number) your three main Objectives in a way that makes it clear exactly what they are, in order of their importance. State clearly, directly under each Objective, ONE major Issue affecting the accomplishment of each objective, phrasing the Issue as a question. 

This is the section from which you get the goals that you will put in your Executive Summary and which will start your thinking on your Marketing Strategy: what you want to do and what key issues will affect your doing it. To get a better idea of your objectives, look ahead to Controls to see how these objectives will be tested after implementing the Plan. 

Objectives are specific things that you want to accomplish. Issues are broad categories of problems, things you'll need to think about while working out how you will obtain your objectives. In your text's example of the objective of 15% market share, notice that the issue is not the specific question, "how can we get a market share of 15%?" but rather the very general question of "how does one go about increasing market share?" An even better way to phrase an issue here would be something like, "Given that we are a service industry with limited resources, how do we increase market share without risking XYZ?". 

Make your objectives specific to your organization. Don't state as objectives things which are just common business sense or part of general business practice. The following are all incorrect objectives from previous Plans; they are incorrect because these are general things any marketer strives for.

satisfy customers
make sure production meets demand
be located in the right place
have a strategy that appeals to the target market

Satisfying customers, producing enough, finding a good location, determining the right strategy -- these are not objectives for a Marketing Plan any more than an objective of my teaching this course would be "to give a class that teaches students what they need to know," or "to offer the course twice each year." 

Objectives must be clear, specific, numeric, and limited to a particular time period

Poorly-Stated Objectives Well-Stated Objectives
To make money Earn a 10% ROI by the second year of operations 
To get more customers We will increase our market share from 16% to 18% by the end of fiscal 2007, by increasing our community sponsorship budget by 15%
To get bigger Our objective is to open three new units by the end of fiscal 2007 in each of the 3 Atlantic provinces where we have no stores

Some examples of well stated issues for objectives (from previous Plans)


Earn a 10%profit in our second year of operation
Issue: How can we attract and retain a strong and loyal customer base?  
Open 3 franchises within the Extended Market Area of Calgary by the end of 2015
issue: How do we ensure success in a slow economy?  
Capture 10% of market in our first year and increase that to 14% in our second year
Issue: What do we need to do to constantly attract new customers?  

Note that you are not required here to discuss how you will achieve the objective or to discuss how you will deal with the one major issue, only to list what they are. In a full length Marketing Plan, of course you would address these; this is a much-abbreviated Plan to introduce you to the concept.

Value Proposition: State in not more than 3 lines the value proposition of your product.

4. Marketing Strategy 
(2 pages - Point Form, Single-Spaced, Pages 6 and 7).
You will do here a fuller description than is given in the Grass Roots Marketing Plan, but still far less than you would do for a real Marketing Plan. 

Here you start the most important part of the Marketing Plan; it is particularly important in this part that you use the marketing theory and terminology you have been learning. As you start this part of the Plan, go back and re-read carefully the three main objectives that you outlined in the Objectives and Issues section, because strategy is largely about how you accomplish your objectives. Use your work in the Learning Units as you complete your Marketing Plan; they are specifically designed to help you negotiate the summing up of each of the main areas of Marketing, and they contain Waving Hand exercises that ask you to specifically apply concepts to your own Marketing Plan. Use the concepts presented there as well as those from your textbook. Be particularly aware where lists have been emphasized in the Learning Units. For example, in Product, we talk about the Core, Actual, and Augmented Product. Use these terms, don't explain them. Don't waste space writing out what "augmented product" means; we all know because it's in the web pages. Just use it in a way that shows you understand what it means. Use the Discussion Group as a forum for discussing problems you may have while constructing this part; it is the most difficult part of a Marketing Plan.

You don't have the 550+ pages your textbook took to cover this material; you're going to have to shorten it and part of the learning exercise in this assignment is for you to figure out how to do this. Trim it down, use concise point form, avoid wasted words or saying the same thing twice. Prioritize; not everything is equally important; decide what's most important; it will vary from product to product. It's not easy, but it's part of the purpose of the assignment -- to give you practice in deciding what is important and then writing it concisely.  

Be sure in all of this section that everything you lay out as strategy specifically and clearly links back to and is consistent with the Current Marketing Situation Analysis part of the Plan. Everything you propose must directly relate to and deal with threats, opportunities, critical issues, and objectives as stated in the earlier part of the Plan. 

You start this section of the Plan with: 

Page 6

State clearly and succinctly how you are positioning your product, relative to customer needs and what the competition is doing, and why you made that choice. 

Positioning is essentially a description of your broad strategic plan, the "marketing logic" with which you hope to achieve your marketing objectives as your text puts it. This takes some careful thinking through, as it is at the heart of your Marketing Plan and its proposed strategy. You are answering the question of why consumers should and will buy your product instead of others out there in the market. What kinds of features and attributes does your product offer? What benefits does it offer to the consumer? Read the web pages on Positioning; they are in fuller detail than the Armstrong/Kotler text. You do not need to draw a positioning map.

Marketing Research 
State three things you will need to find out more about in order to help ensure that the product launch is a success. 
Do not elaborate; just state.

Marketing Organization
State very briefly how your company will be organized to handle the Marketing functions: by product, customer, geography, a combination, or other?

Page 7:

Product Strategy
State clearly and concisely at the start of the section exactly the main strategy for this part of the Mix. Then describe some specific details of your strategy for that area, going into further description and justification for your choices using theory and terminology from your text chapters and the Product Learning Unit to back up your decisions. List and label one specific tactic you will do to help ensure this part of the Marketing Mix is successful.  

Price Strategy
State clearly and concisely at the start of the section exactly the main strategy for this part of the Mix. Then describe some specific details of your strategy for that area, going into further description and justification for your choices using theory and terminology from your text chapters and the Price Learning Unit to back up your decisions. List and label one specific tactic you will do to help ensure this part of the Marketing Mix is successful.  

Distribution Strategy
State clearly and concisely at the start of the section exactly the main strategy for this part of the Mix. Then describe some specific details of your strategy for that area, going into further description and justification for your choices using theory and terminology from your text chapters and the Place Learning Unit to back up your decisions. List and label one specific tactic you will do to help ensure this part of the Marketing Mix is successful.  

Marketing Communications Strategy
State clearly and concisely at the start of the section exactly the main strategy for this part of the Mix. Then describe some specific details of your strategy for that area, going into further description and justification for your choices using theory and terminology from your text chapters and the Promotion Learning Unit to back up your decisions. List and label one specific tactic you will do to help ensure this part of the Marketing Mix is successful.  

5. Action Programmes
(1 page, the last one - Point Form, Single-Spaced, Page 8.)
In the "real world" you would have to put a lot more effort into your action programme, budget, and controls to meet the stringent requirements of a lending officer or boss and to have a solid idea of where you are going, but here you are just showing that you know they are necessary and that they need to be internally consistent. Do the whole thing in one page, keeping it short enough to do so. 

Action Programme
List briefly, in order, your three major actions that you will need to do now, in 6 months, and at the end of one year, with a rough estimate of how long they will take to do. 
Make this one major action for each time period, three total, not nine.

This is the "who, what, when, and how much" of strategic planning. What will you do now, what will you do in six months, what will you do in a year? Show specifically what will be done and when in relation to other things that must be done. You can't do this till you've done the Marketing Strategy. Once you have outlined what you are going to do in strategic terms, in this section you get more specific and do some reality testing, answering such questions as when you plan to set up your first office, when you plan to start hiring staff, etc.  

The Budget section of the Plan consists of 3 items
1. Money Needed 
State a rough estimate of how much money you will need to start production and marketing of this product and a brief description of where you will get the money. 

Money needed to start up this business: roughly $3 Million, to be obtained from will of Great Aunt Gus

2. Expected Revenue 
State a general figure for expected sales for each of your first three years.

Sales in Years 1-3: $25,000, $50,000, $100,000
Note the pattern here; I'm expecting to double my sales each year. That will have implications for my marketing strategy that must be covered in the Strategic Planning part of the Plan

3. Expected Expenses 
List the three major items which will make up a large part of your costs or expenses

Top three costs: building the factory, labour, purchasing the copyright 

In a course like this, any budget figures would be largely made up because you cannot know, without a lot more work than you can do in this short a time with an imaginary product, exactly how much things will cost or even exactly what will be required. But you can show that you have a general idea of where you will get the money to set up the business (it's okay to say you inherited it from a Great Aunt or that you are a subsidiary of a huge already-existing corporation) and how you will allocate it (is $14.39 enough to set up an office in Calgary?), and that you have a sense of the internal logic of the Plan. I grade this section, and most of the plan, not on the accuracy of your figures (how do I know how much it will cost to build a coffin shaped like a hockey stick? [actual student Marketing Plan product]), but on the internal consistency of your plan and the evidence there that you have some idea what you are doing.  

Briefly describe 3 tests that you will create or set up to check whether or not you have been successful and used well the money you were lent or given. State the goal that this control measures,.

This involves measuring and evaluating results to be sure you are doing what you thought you wanted to do, and taking measures to fix things if you aren't. Financial goals by market are a common method. Use this section to help you determine your Objectives. Pretend you are facing a panel of fierce money lenders two years from now who want to know how you have spent the money they so graciously loaned you for this enterprise, or imagine that you are on your deathbed preparing to meet Great Aunt Gus (if you are so religiously inclined); what will you tell them? What tests will you perform to know if you have been successful? Do not actually create these tests, just briefly describe them. Once you have put this clearly into words, you will have a good idea of what your goals and objectives are. 

Example of a Control 

Goal - Awareness and visibility of Sudd in the market, to ensure sustainability

Measure of Performance - Use customer surveys and field research to ensure that at least 60% of potential customers are aware of Sudd and that 50% of major drugstores and supermarkets shelve our product effectively.

- finis - 

No appendices or reference pages needed

This is a term-long project. START EARLY!

Product Classes For Marketing Plans

Possible Product Classes A to Z
from which to choose a product 
for your Marketing Plan

You may choose a good, service, idea, event, person... any of the many things that a product can be. Read about the many things a product can be in the Product Unit.
INK (think computers OR getting inked!)

Assumptions are a crucial part of any academic exercise; they put limits on what would otherwise be too huge a task for a term-long course. These are written for the Marketing Plan learning exercise in Introductory Marketing, but they are relevant for most courses I teach. 

Assumptions I Make
I assume you have read the full instructions, your textbook, and the web pages. I also assume that in taking an introductory level Marketing course, you do not yet know everything about Marketing (I don't either and none of us ever will), and I am not expecting from you a document such as I would get if I hired J. Walter Thompson to write a Marketing Plan for me, or if I asked a fourth-year Marketing Honours student to do one.  

Assumptions You May Make
This is not an Accounting course. You may make up any financial figures; I'd have no way of checking if they were correct anyway. Just be sure everything is internally consistent. 

This is not an Engineering course. If you have a clever idea for a product, you may assume it is possible to produce it. A Plan a few years ago invented a machine that crawls along the floor, hanging wallpaper as it goes. Absurd? You bet. Grade on the project? A, because the Marketing Plan was well written and included everything it was supposed to include. And who knows, maybe one day there WILL be such a thing; remember Theodore Levitt's article on Marketing Myopia

This is not a Finance course. If you need money to set up your production plant, it's fine with me if you assume that you have inherited $3 million from a favourite great-aunt. You don't have to be concerned with preferred stock, debentures, and shareholders' equity. Take what money you need from your imagination, but do give some indication of where you will get money from.

This is not a Law course. If you have an exciting product but you're not quite sure about legalities, you may assume that the product is legal to produce and that you have any licenses you need, or that you have an ethical path through the problem. Note that you cannot assume something like an exclusive patent that means you don't have to worry about competition; you cannot assume away anything that is a fundamental part of marketing (and besides, there will ALWAYS be competition of some kind).

This IS a course based in Ethics. If you are intrigued by questionable ethical implications of a product, this course is a good place to tackle them. As a marketer, you well may be handed a product to market that does not meet your personal ethical standards; you will have to decide what to do about it. Resign, refuse, or resolve it. So, I will not tell you that you can't market guns for Smith and Wesson, or alcoholic beverages, or an alibi service (one Plan did a good job with this one, providing the company with a kind of disclaimer as to what the service might be used for). I had an experience with this question myself at York a while ago. When asked to develop a marketing seminar for a tobacco firm, I said no, but I am protected by tenure and can refuse; not everyone can. You may one day have to tackle something you'd rather not have to face. If you want to do something on the edge in this Marketing Plan, go for it. Don't waste time trying to think up something that will shock me; I've lived more than half a century, including living through the Nixon Watergate years and seeing Bob Rae's Ontario NDP party dump support for higher education and I just don't shock easily. 

Obviously all the issues surrounding assumptions are important in the real world and you would have to face them differently if you were actually marketing the product. But these assumptions allow you to reduce to some extent the work required in what is, after all, a term-long course, and to focus on what the course is all about -- Marketing. 

A major thing I'm looking for in your plan is consistency -- logical internal consistency, no matter what you are marketing. When I am grading your plan to market a $12,000 watch, I don't care where you got the money to build the factory, I don't care whether you could actually get the patent for its peculiar inner workings, I don't care if you have made up most of your cost figures, and I don't care whether this watch will actually do the 73 functions you claim it will, but I DO care if you make the impossible assumption that it will only cost you $1.00 to make and you decide to sell it at Honest Ed's, and I don't want to read that you are going to steal the plans for it from some poor unsuspecting soul in Canmore. 

Finally, but perhaps most important - I'm looking for theory. Be sure you show me in the Marketing Plan that you have read your text and the web pages, and that you understand the marketing theory. Don't put quotes from the book ("as Armstrong/Kotler say on page 73, we must...."); I'm looking for use of the marketing terms and theory in your work (e.g.: when you're discussing the product itself, tell me what the core product is, as well as the actual and augmented product, but don't waste space defining those terms). This is a somewhat elusive concept, not always easy to do, but it is often what makes the difference between a B+ and an A paper.  And I'm looking for a little creativity - have some fun with this project!  

Some More Comments on Writing, Formatting, and Printing

Follow Instructions - If the assignment says "List 3 in order of importance" list three and be sure they are in order of importance. One Plan listed 13 items when asked to list 3 and lost all the points allotted to that section. 

Give Yourself Time Finish your assignment AT LEAST one full day ahead of the due date so you have time to review it and be sure it includes everything and says what you intended for it to say.  

Edit! Don't write meaningless gibberish; don't make silly mistakes that make your report look foolish and cause your Loan Officer to laugh at you! Don't tell me that "these people are busy managing children and careers that like to entertain..." There are few careers I'm aware of that actually like to entertain; there are perhaps some children but I doubt that's what the writer meant to say. Read your writing, preferably aloud at least to yourself, and ideally to someone who is not taking the course, to be sure it makes sense. Be sure you've said what you meant to say. Don't use the excuse of having problems with English; a large percentage of our students come to York with English not their first language and they write well. In an in-class test, this may be a consideration, but not in an outside assignment where you have the time and the resources to polish the paper.

Use Bullets Properly - if there are three major factors and one justification for their use, don't bullet the "justification" as if it were a fourth factor. 

Don't Repeat the Same Idea twice as two separate points. Someone told me in the first bullet that an opportunity was that "Brand X could have an association with Absolut Vodka", then in bullet three told me that "We can create new recipes for drinks using Brand X and Vodka." 

Don't Speak in Generalities Don't tell me that a demographic factor is that "Life Cycle is constantly changing and with it consumer demands." Tell me instead perhaps that, "The aging baby boomers will soon be dying and will need more coffins." Don't tell me that "Apart from the 4 P's, effort is also very important in Marketing." Don't re-word that one, just leave it out. It is of no possible help to a Marketing Plan to state that you have to make an effort. 

Watch Your Choice of Words  Don't use flippant language like, "Why did we do this? I'll tell you why we did it...." Save this for used-car-ads. Also avoid colloquialisms and slang; keep the writing serious. Don't use too much jargon. Yes, you need to use the terminology of the field ("Target Market" not "the people we sell to") but don't use language that few people will understand or acronyms that a reader will have to go look up. Write in plain English and use proper words. Avoid meaningless, trite, or colloquial phrases: don't tell me that "Brand XYZ could explode along with the other products of Company ABC." In this case the person was talking about a bottled liquid product and I thought immediately of only one thing. I later realized the writer probably meant something about sales exploding, as in increasing hugely and suddenly, but if that's what you mean, don't use colloquial phrases, say it clearly and precisely. 

Don't Make Statements You Can't Back Up - Someone told me that Coke and Pepsi "don't really worry" about the smaller private label bottlers. In the cola business a 1% share of the market is worth billions of dollars; the Coke and Pepsi Wars are all about taking business away from the smaller independent bottlers.

Don't Throw in Gratuitous Theory - it's as unwelcome as gratuitous violence in a film. One Plan told me that a factor in the social environment is that it is easier to change secondary beliefs than primary, but failed to tell me an example of either or what it meant to the product, just the theory. Tell me instead perhaps that people's secondary belief systems that govern XYZ may make it very hard to prove to them that they can indeed do ABC. 

Skip the Rhetoric - One of the objectives of this course is to help you get comfortable with writing in business style - short, concise, precise. 

One Plan said about Threats: 

"In the global market, telecommunications companies must be visionary and anticipatory in their marketing strategies to ensure survival. It is become increasingly important to develop new products/services with increasing customer demand for faster and efficient telecommunications. The intense competitive environment is perhaps the greatest threat to our organization. This is why we are proactive, determined to be the first to penetrate the market of communication technology. We plan to utilize relationship marketing to establish early and valuable relationships with realty developers who in turn link us to our target market. This strategic position will ease the entry into the GTA area and help us to understand and satisfy the growing end user demand."

Try Instead: 

Threats: Fast Changing Technology
Meet by getting in early and practicing relationship marketing

Skip the rhetoric and get right to the point by telling me exactly what the threat is and how you will meet it.

The the Passive Voice is to be Avoided - Check here before and after the link to:  "elephants" - to find more hints about proper writing. 

How to Fail the Marketing Plan

Fís are a rare commodity in courses I teach, and since I donít give them out often, I am careful and selective about to whom I grant them. If you really do have your heart set on failing the Marketing Plan, here are some suggestions as to how to go about doing it:

1. Donít hand it in at all.

2. Send it a week late with no reason why.

3. Only do parts of it.

4. Write a full page for each part, even if the instructions say only write Ĺ page or ľ page hoping if you provide enough verbiage some of it may be relevant.

5. Ignore the structure of the Marketing Plan. After all, you know by now what one should look like. Why bother to read what the professor wants you to put in the Plan, when you know better.

6. Send it in handwritten form, in crayon.

7. Engage in the Mac-Syndrome: concentrate only on filling the pages with elaborate graphs, charts, and full colour pictures, and use 17 different fonts in each section, totally neglecting content.

8. Use only the headings given in the web page instructions and write nothing of your own input below those headings; the professor probably only wants to see her own work anyway.

9. Get in a big battle with your team members the day before the Plan is due and send in five separate Plans, claiming that teamwork never works in business anyway.

10. Donít bother with theory. After all, those hundreds of pages in the text and the dozens of course websites that contain all that theory are only there to confuse you. Stick to everyday common sense ideas that any sixth grader could come up with after watching an afternoon of TV. Thatís all Marketingís about anyway.

11. Donít use the terminology of the field. Why bother typing out ďintended target marketĒ each time, when the professor will know that when you wrote ďguysĒ you meant the people at whom you are aiming your marketing mix.

12. Donít include all the stuff asked for on the web page instructions for the Marketing Plan. After all, your professor couldnít possibly want to wade through all that stuff. Choose yourself what you think is most important.

13. Choose three products instead of one and write three times the amount of material. Your professor will be impressed with your industriousness.

14. Write your Plan in the lingo of another field. Try terms from Chaucerian English, or Botany. Or Philosophy! You know your professor is big on interdisciplinary work and teaches a course thatís cross listed with the Philosophy Department. Instead of writing 3-4 lines about your product strategy, write what you think Plato would say about how your product fits in with his image of the cave.

15. Send your Plan to the Tait McKenzie Gym instead of to the Office of Computing Technology and e-Learning Services. You realize your professor has never been to the Gym (except for Convocations) in all her years at York, but thereís always the chance sheíll decide to go exercise on the day your assignment is due and find it there.

16. You know your professor is also a Womenís Studies professor so make this assignment into a male-bashing rant. Choose a topic that would only be sold to men of the most lowly social and educational status, and make fun of your target market as you prepare the Plan, failing to put in any real content because your target market is too stupid to understand it.

17. Write everything in improper English; your professor is a Business professor and probably doesn't know anything about proper English anyway. 

18. Only do every other part of the Plan. Youíre getting tired and itís the end of term.

19. Donít put anything in the required format. Instead, knowing your professor, who holds an MBA in Finance, loves numbers, convert your entire Marketing Plan to binary code and attach it in a 40-page appendix.

20. Donít read the instructions at all. Just guess at what should be included. It will make for a much livelier marking week for the professor and sheíll thank you for it.

Other Units

Introduction Strategy Society Environments Research Buyers
Segmentation Product Price Place Promotion The Marketing Plan

Return to Course Syllabus

AP/ADMS 2200 3.0 Introductory Marketing
York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.