Marketing of any business forms the basis on which the business’s chances of survival in the market lie. Well marketed businesses have higher chances of success as opposed to poorly marketed businesses start-ups that always dwell on the brink of collapse. Therefore, it is appropriate for every business start-up to have a comprehensive marketing plan that clearly defines the specific steps and approaches that will be used to market its products.
This particular marketing plan is for Echoice whose main products will be web-based solutions such as web hosting, domain registration, web development, web design, online marketing, and search engine optimization. Being relatively common products in the business arena, it will require very extensive marketing to have the company getting customers. The company will be faced with several threats in addition to the weaknesses that it will have. These need to be dealt with in the right way in order to ensure that the company succeeds.
However, it will also have its own strengths and opportunities that can be tapped for its own success. The specific market for the company’s products will be organizations and businesses – small and large alike – that have been noted to have a real need for
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Finally, the company will seek to reach some customers physically and have them trying out the company’s products so that there is a clearer understanding of the special and unique needs that each of the different customers have. Cost leadership and product differentiation will be the main focus of the marketing and the major strategic tools used to manage the competition in the market. To evaluate performance, Echoice will have targets for every three months (quarterly) excluding the first three months of operation. They will be in the form of revenue collection targets, customer retention ability, and overall market penetration.
With minimal staff, the company is scheduled to become operational this December. Introduction Marketing of products and services forms the basis upon which any business thrives. This is because unless a business is able to get a viable and sustainable market, then its objectives, both long-term and short-term, will not be achieved. Marketing, therefore, ought to be given a lot of emphasis. Any business start-up ought to have an elaborate marketing plan to enhance its chances of survival. In view of this, it is very important for the business to ensure that extensive market research is done prior to designing this marketing plan.
Strategic marketing ought to be the baseline in this endeavor. For Echoice, the main focus will be on how to get customers using the wide array of services that will be on offer. While it is a new business venture, the kind of services it will be offering – web-based organizational and business solutions – are not at all new. This calls for extensive marketing so that customers can be convinced to let go of whatever options that are currently using and instead make up their minds to use Echoice’ products. Goals and Objectives of the Marketing Plan
In line with its mission of seeking to provide first class web solutions for organizations and small businesses looking to make impact online, Echoice will aspire to offer services that are diversified yet specific. In essence, it seeks to have a wide array of web solutions for both small and large businesses which have a desire to impact their world through online service provision. This objective stems from the realization of the impact that technological development can have on a business particularly in this age when advances in technology have widely transformed the way business operations are undertaken.
This is the age when every business, regardless of its area of operation, needs to tap into technology by using the appropriate technological tools to shape business and enhance its ability to make profit. Echoice will seek to ensure that businesses that are just starting out in the use of online technology are able to get all the services they need in one place. In addition, the company will seek to appeal to those businesses already established in the use of online products.
From web hosting to domain registration; web development to web design; and online marketing to search engine optimization, Echoice will seek to be a one-stop shop for the tech-savvy firm – small and large alike. It has been common practice for firms to outsource such services from different providers owing to a shortage of providers of such services. Echoice seeks to bridge this gap by giving its customers a chance to do it all in one place. In addition, Echoice will seek to follow up on its clients so they are able to receive standardized services on their products and also to ensure the continued functioning of these products.
This is in line with its strategy of using an all-inclusive approach to marketing where the customer will have no alternative but to remain a permanent partner with it. Actually, Echoice will be seeking partnership with its customers over a long period of time so that their operational efficiency can be enhanced. This has a basis in the realization that businesses that source their web products and services from different providers actually end up not only spending more money annually but also receiving less value for their money.
This is because different we service providers will offer different versions of the same service or product, thereby creating room for mishaps and inefficiencies in operations. To be able to measure these goals and objectives, Echoice will carry out an assessment of the frequency with which its customers come to seek modifications or changes on their products. If the frequency is high, then the level of attainment of this goal will not be as expected.
On the contrary, if customers take a considerably long period of time before requesting for modifications then this will be an indication of a higher level of customer satisfaction and so an indication of a higher level of goal attainment. This measure of attainability of the company’s goals will be based on the assumption that satisfied customers are less likely to seek modifications or alternative products than those who are less satisfied. In general, customer satisfaction is all that Echoice will be aspiring to achieve as it is the basis of business profitability.
This satisfaction will be ascertained through the response that will be received from the customers. SWOT Analysis Overview Every business has its own challenges and it is the business’s response to those challenges that determines its level of success as far as attaining its goals and objectives is concerned. These challenges come in the form of threats and weakness that originate from outside and inside the business environment respectively. Weaknesses are just inherent in the organization and it is in the power of the business to deal with them and possibly resolve them as desired.
On the contrary, threats have nothing to do with the business’s environment of operation. Instead, they are external forces originating from outside the business but having the potential to affect the business negatively unless they are managed well. Threats to a business can only be managed using different coping strategies but never can they be done away with. In the same way, businesses have opportunities and strengths. Strengths are inherent in the business and when identified and put to good use, they can improve the business’s survival prospects and spur it to great levels of success as far as profitability is concerned.
Opportunities are usually external factors which, although outside the business’s control, are capable of being utilized to achieve high levels of profitability. Carrying out an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business, therefore, forms the starting point of business growth because it ensures that the business operates with full knowledge of what it needs to be done to keep it moving forward. The Actual SWOT Analysis Strengths
The first strength of Echoice is that it will be a one-stop shopping entity where it will be possible for customers to have a wide array of products in one place and so they will not need to look elsewhere for related services. This has the impact of enabling the business to lay hold of customers who might not be keen on sourcing different web products from different providers. That aside, this will ensure hat the company’s marketing costs are significantly reduced because each service offered will give the customers a chance to find out more about the other products. This will be especially so if the level of customer satisfaction is high.
Shopping in one place as opposed to multiple places gives customers confidence and trust in a provider and subsequently makes the provider to easily retain that customer. The baseline is that customer loyalty is enhanced. The second strength of Echoice will be product differentiation. In a tech-savvy world, consumers are increasingly utilizing the services of businesses that can offer diverse products for the same application. For instance, businesses are looking for search engine optimization techniques that can be applicable to different search engines developed by different firms.
Similarly, customers want to have websites that are developed in the most unique way and which can be transformed as desired in line with the target market. Diversity is perhaps most important to the company because it will help deal with competition. As earlier mentioned, the company will not be dealing in new products but products that have already been in the market. Given this state of affairs, it will be critical that an appropriate strategy to deal with competition is sought. In a widely competitive market, product differentiation will give Echoice the competitive edge in the market and so enable it to penetrate faster in that market.
Finally, Echoice will have the benefit of having a strong team of information technology specialists who are reliable and who identify with the company’s mission and vision. This gives the company an opportunity to make faster headway in the market as it will not need to source for these professionals. Given that staff expenses constitute a large proportion of any business venture’s budget, Echoice will be able to save on such costs while benefitting from the great expertise of the personnel. Weaknesses The first weakness of Echoice is its being without the originality that could have helped it to be unique in the market.
There are many players in this industry and with technological advancement there is bound to be more entrants into the market who offer similar or related products. This will have the impact of reducing the market penetration rate of the company. The company will be forced to adopt very vigorous marketing campaigns in order to advance in the market. The second weakness Echoice faces is the large number of services that it will be offering. Because the services are different, it will be difficult for the company to roll them out all at the same time.
This is unlike if there had been a specializing in a one or two products only and then diversifying to others later on when the businesses experiences some significant growth. Finally, Echoice, being a business start-up, does not have the capacity to appeal to and attract customers from large businesses. This is because such businesses often prefer using services from established providers that they have come to trust through a long history of working together. This has the effect of further limiting the company’s ability to penetrate the market and achieve its objectives.
Opportunities Echoice has a chance to appeal to markets around the world. Technology transcends national borders and Echoice has a chance to appeal to customers from not only this country but elsewhere as well. Another opportunity is that in spite of the rapid technological advancement, many businesses are just starting to apply themselves to the use of appropriate technology. For instance, e-marketing is a relatively new phenomenon especially amongst businesses that have been around for a long time and those that offer products that have a global appeal.
This is because such businesses have traditionally relied on physical marketing strategies but are now realizing that their customers can be better reached through e-marketing. The other opportunity is that there are low-niche markets seeking to start using information technology that need to be reached. This is especially on the internal arena where the information revolution is just starting to have its impacts on business. As they emerge, these businesses are realizing that there is a great need by customers to have products and services offered to them in a way they best identify with.
As such, these businesses are increasingly embracing new technology and so offer the greatest opportunity for Echoice’s market growth. The other opportunity that Echoice has is that of globalization. The company is coming into operation at a time when markets have become rather integrated as a result of globalization. This means that there are fewer restrictions to venturing in global markets which offer the highest growth opportunities. Finally, with the difficult economic times that most businesses are experiencing, most of them are likely to resort to outsourcing their information technology services as opposed to using in-house ones.
This means that many chances will be made available for Echoice to make use of as far as markets are concerned. Threats The greatest threat that Echoice will face is stiff competition from both existing and upcoming businesses. Of Porter’s five forces, the threat of entry of new competitors and the intensity of the resulting competition will be the most felt by Echoice. The intense competition will force the company to invest in alternative product differentiation strategies that might be costly for a new business of its kind. Besides, the competition is likely to lower its short-term revenue owing to the low sales volume expected.
The second threat to the company is expected to be spamming and phishing. In the recent past, there has been a surge in fictitious individuals who engage in online product duplication and who can deceive customers into believing that what they offer is actually from Echoice. There is a risk that by copying Echoice’s marketing strategies, such individuals can benefit at the company’s expense. The other threat is that with the current global economic crisis still having a negative impact on businesses, there could be a reduction in their budgetary spending on new technologies.
That aside, more businesses might resort to using their own in-house technologists to provide the services they need. This will mean that the total available customers seeking services from Echoice will be lower. Finally, policy change as far as business operations are concerned is a threat that is anticipated. With governments around the world increasingly becoming concerned about what is being accessed by their people over the internet, measures like internet censoring cannot be ruled out especially in countries where information access has been closely monitored and even controlled by the state. The Segmentation Process and Market Choice
Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of business operations throughout the world and any business organization, regardless of its size and area of operation, is finding technology an indispensable tool that is part of the overall strategy for success. Having conducted an extensive research on the manner in which marketing is done by internationally acclaimed corporations as well as those businesses that are making it big in their respective areas of operation, it has become clear that the approach they employ centers in one way or another on the manner in which they are using technology.
From Wal-Mart, Nike, and Apple in the products market to Ryanair, Google, and Microsoft in the services industry, technology is what has propelled them to the top of their respective markets. With the understanding that businesses are changing the way they do business and particularly the manner in which they market their products, Echoice seeks to ensure that the gap that has been created by the mass exodus of firms from use of contemporary marketing techniques to the use of online marketing is bridged.
For today virtually every business worth being noticed by customers uses the internet. Ever since the advent of web 2. 0, technological advancement in the area of marketing by firms has intensified and reached an all-time high. There is no turning back on this trend, no doubt, and the only way forward is for more businesses to turn to the web for their marketing solutions. In line with this, Echoice expects that most of its sales will come from online marketing because it is mainly targeting businesses – those that have been in existence as well as those that are just beginning.
For the latter category, it has been noted that they tend to start with the knowledge that the internet is the place to market and engage in virtually all kinds of business practices because it is here that the entire world meets – not to mention that the business fraternity and the movers and shakers in business are all to be found there. As such, these businesses will be targeting services like web development, web design, domain registration and web hosting.
In a similar way, the established businesses – those that have been in operation for a very long time – are finding it difficult to cope using the traditional marketing approaches and techniques. They too are becoming aware that they risk losing control of the market because they do not appeal to their customers any longer with these approaches. As a result, they are making the inevitable switch to the marketing techniques that suit their target customers. All these need services starting from web design, web development, and web hosting to domain registration and online marketing.
Another notable market trend is that businesses are no longer putting up with search engines that are slow or that are not adaptable to their business needs. Similarly, they are sourcing for web designers who can do the work such that the outcome is a website design which when developed depicts the core values of the business. It is no longer a matter of having a website for the sake of it but having one that is easy to follow, well formulated, and designed with the needs of the target users in mind. Each business, depending on what it is engaged in, desires to have a web design that is aligned to that purpose.
As the target market, businesses are entities that thrive on their ability to appeal to their customer as far as possible. In view of this, segments have been established with a view to helping the businesses meet their specific customer needs. For instance, there are those businesses that have all the appropriate technology in place but need constant upgrading. Such ones will find the services of Echoice ideal. Then other businesses are in search for a partner in the IT area so as to be able to have a constant flow of information between them and their customers.
Still, there are those businesses that are in need of a number of web solutions but have no idea where to start. They need to have a completely new start. Some of the target customers are not necessarily businesses but rather organizations of all kinds that seek to have their websites and search engines made more appealing and user-friendly. Image has been identified as a key factor that determines the outcome of an organization as far as attaining its goals is concerned. That users are driven to make decisions based on the very first impressions has driven organizations to invest a lot in designing their websites.
They want to give to the world what they really are and nothing less. They seek to be appealing so as to attract customers and succeed in whatever they are doing. They know that the web is the one place where every person in the world goes at whatever time and that it is the one place where the entire world can meet at the same time. As such, they want to have web solutions that that are able to convey the right message to users even as they also seek to have the users getting the best out of the web solution.
All such organizations will be in need of Echoice’s services and the company will seek to ensure that all these categories of customers are served. Marketing Program A lot of emphasis will be placed on the marketing because being a new business that is dealing in products that are already available in the market only extensive and targeted marketing will propel it to penetrate the market and be able to compete on a similar footing with the already established players in the market. The following strategies will be employed: Product Strategy
The main product strategy will be differentiation. This will ensure that although there are will be many products of similar products and there are close substitutes, Echoice’s products will be able to stand out owing to their uniqueness and high quality. It will be the priority of the company to use customer feedback to determine the quality that is desired and to make the product to be aligned with the customer’s specific needs. Price Strategy Pricing will be very critical to the marketing plan of Echoice. The plan is to use cost leadership in order to penetrate the market.
In doing this, Echoice seeks to set the price of its services to rates up to 25% lower than the lowest available provider in the market. This means that there will be different prices for different markets depending on the price levels that are applicable. In order to minimize the likelihood of the emergence of price wars, Echoice will try as much as possible to keep its prices close to the average market price and focus a lot more on making its services more appealing through investment in measures that enhance the quality of services. Promotion Strategy The place of Echoice’s marketing for its services will be solely on the internet.
There will be designed and developed a website for the company (www. echoice. com) where interaction between its marketing team and customers will be done. This website will be the official one and apart from advertising the services offered by Echoice, it will double up as a venue for interaction between customers and the company. Customers will be able to offer their feedback through a special blog on the web so that the company can respond them and understand what they really want. Customers will be notified of all the relevant requirements through the site, and they will have to convey all their correspondence through it.
In exceptional cases, the company will be sending out staff to meet customers and have interactive sessions with them. They will also visit customers to assess the level of operation of the products they shall have sourced from Echoice. Another marketing strategy will entail the use of social networking sites. Having an understanding that these sites are appealing to virtually all people, Echoice will start by placing advertisements on sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube. There will be limited advertising done over leading TV channels but this will be restricted to the local market. Place/Distribution Strategy
Echoice’s services will be availed on call. Once a customer has made a request for a service, Echoice staff will respond to the call and act according to the customer’s requirements and the nature of the service requested. If, for instance, the customer needs a website to be designed, then this will be done by its staff without having to go to the client. Unless there is need for Echoice’s staff to physically be present at the customer’s location, then services will be offered online. Implementation The business is expected to become operational on 12/28/2010 after all the legal and logistical aspects have been completed.
It will initially have only three proprietors who will form the main staff for the company for the first six months of the business. Recruitment of additional staff will be commensurate with business performance. The starting point will be setting up of the company’s official website (www. echoices. com) and the invitation of potential customers to source out its different products. Then as the orders start coming in, staff will be processing and working on them accordingly. Advertisements will be placed on social networking sites a week before the commencement day of business to allow users time to verify details about the company.
Evaluation and Control To be able to appraise the performance of the business, the revenue base attained quarterly will be determined. There will be targets that the company will have to achieve every three months; failure to achieve these will be an indication that progress is below the expectations. Except for the first three months when the business does not expect to make any significant profits, successive quarters will have to generate revenue that indicates an upward trend for the business. In addition to this measure, market penetration will be measured by measuring the rate at which new customers are being reached.
A target will also be set to ensure that a significant market share is attained in every three months. Finally, the company’s ability to retain customers will be used to evaluate its performance. To ensure that profitability is sustainable, Echoice will restrict itself to offering only six kinds of products – web hosting, domain registration, web development, web design, online marketing, and search engine optimization – until such a time as when it has attained a firm grasp on the market when it can diversify into other areas. Word count: 4,325 Note: (the red color is for content that must appear in the presentation)