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MARKETING, SALES & CUSTOMER SERVICES

ASSIGNMENT 1

APRIL 2002

1.     Introduction

This document aims to focus on the launch of a new account for small and medium sized businesses by ABC plc. The main points will be presented for further discussion and research.

The launch of this new account is directly related to the overall corporate objectives of the Bank. Starting down at the lower level, the Bank can meet its short-term objectives such as “Attracting new customers and preserving existing ones.” This could increase the level of business and lead to the medium term objectives– “To offer products which are both profitable and attractive to customers”. Careful and balanced monitoring of objective setting, strategic planning and implementation can increase profit margin and satisfy customer needs successfully.

[118 words]

2.     The Marketing Mix

In order to bring to the market the best possible package, all the elements of the marketing mix need to be managed carefully. Let us examine the elements of the extended marketing mix – the 6 Ps’:

 

2.1  Product

The launch of this product will differentiate the company from its competitors since there is currently nobody else offering these five benefits in the same package. However, other factors should also be considered, such as the product’s life cycle, a portfolio planning e.g. using the Boston Matrix, etc.

2.2  Price

The pricing decision is crucial because it needs to balance two factors - maximizing profit and attracting customers2. There are many price benefits to the customer for this product but in order to assess the product’s final price we should also consider the related costs, expected level of sales, competition pricing, the state of economy, etc.

2.3  Place

Place relates to the distribution of the product i.e. where will this new account be offered and how? In order to decide the distribution strategy, it must be considered what the product is, who are where the customers are, how and through whom they like to buy, etc.

2.4  Promotion

The Bank will need to promote the new product to the public. There are several options to choose from, like telephone, Internet, branch network, direct mail, etc. A segmentation of the market will also be necessary at this stage to identify only the segments attracted to the product with profit potential.

2.5  People

The selection of the marketing staff is very important. There should be some responsible managers, a call center for information, the front line staff who will deal directly with the customers and especially some knowledgeable and friendly business consultants and Relationship Managers.

2.6  Process

Process relates to the step-by-step detailed documentation of each marketing activity, how and who will send the information, keep records of the enquires, how will the customers respond, etc.

[326 words]

3.     The Marketing Plan

It is also very important to ensure that the Bank will launch this new account in the most successful way. This can easily be achieved by a marketing plan. It must be noted that various stages described below are inter-related and cannot be examined in isolation.

3.1  Executive Summary

This is a brief overview of the contents of the plan, a summary of the marketing objectives and the major recommended strategies contained in the plan. 

3.2  Situation Analysis

This part contains a description of the current and future business situation, the target market and a brief competitor and market analysis. For example, who are already the customers of the business, to whom is this new account targeted and what similar products are already offered by competitors that need to be taken into account? A SWOT analysis may also be necessary together with what is expected to happen in the future, after the launching of the product. 

3.3  Objectives and Goals

This is the stage to set the marketing SMART objectives3, meaning that objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. The situation analysis can help towards the right balance between objectives, assuring that they are both stretching and challenging as well as realistic and achievable. For example, doubling sales volume for small and medium sized businesses after six months from the day of launching of the new account.

3.4  Marketing Strategy

After setting the objectives, we need to develop several strategies on how to achieve them. This can be done through the Marketing Mix, described above. It must also be decided what kind of strategy we need to develop –defensive, developing or attacking? In our case it is more likely to be an attacking one which provides a level of development.

3.5  Action Plan

Planning is the tool that will help us to see how we are going to achieve out objectives and links our strategy with the implementation stage. For example, what needs to be done before and after six months of the launching of the new account, who is responsible for what, etc.

3.6  Budgets

There should be a list of the costs of all the marketing activities mentioned in the marketing plan. This can allow a check that the costs are within the budgeted amounts and also that the activity will be profitable to the Bank.

3.7  Signatures

Senior management must sign the current document to give their support to the plan and its implementation. If there are any supporting documents, there must also be included to support any ideas and facts described above.

[433 words]

4.     The Product’s Life Cycle

Apart from the necessary plans prior to the launching of the new account, it must also be investigated what actions will be necessary during its growth and maturity. It is expected that after its introduction to the market, there will be a significant increase in sales volume. On the other hand competitors are likely to launch similar products. That’s why it is very important to continue to research the competitors and promote the Bank’s own product, probably by using different promotion methods each time. Sales are expected to increase until they reach their highest level, which is the maturity of the product. Competition is also expected to be very intensive by then. The Bank needs to have a research team to monitor market changes and customer needs. It will probably be needed to make some changes to the product offered so that it can still be competitive and attractive to customers. If nothing is done at this stage, a decline in sales will follow. Competition is very high nowadays and financial services environment is changing rapidly so the Bank needs to adjust continuously. For example, more benefits can be added to this account, lower the costs for the customers, extend the product to large businesses, increase the customer service offered, maybe by offering an online 24-hours live customer service for answering questions and dealing with any complaints, etc.

[233 words]

5.     The Buying Behaviour of the Target Market

Another major issue that must carefully be investigated is the buying behaviour of the target market. It is very important for all the staff involved to understand the perceptions and the buying behaviour of the target market so that they can be trained accordingly, offer a precise customer service according to the customer needs, launch the best possible product and modify it according to their future needs and changes in the market.

5.1  Recognizing the need

As soon as they see this product advertised, small and medium sized businesses will recognize that they need an easily accessible account, where they can earn some interest on their credit balances unlike the usual current accounts, receive statements more often and receive some support and ideas from professional people regarding the managing of their finances.

5.2  Assessing the alternative solutions

Before moving on to the purchase, they will probably investigate what there is available in the market and make sure that nobody else currently offers anything more competitive and beneficial. 

5.3  Making the purchase

Having decided that this account best satisfies their needs, they will go ahead and make the purchase in the way in which best suits them.

5.4  Validating the decision

They will finally need a reassurance of their decision, probably by a first contact with a business consultant for advice.

 6. SUMMARY

ABC plc has decided to extent its product range by offering a unique account aimed at the small and medium sized businesses.  A successful launching and monitoring is of crucial importance. In order to achieve this, there should be a careful investigation and discussion between interested parties of related issues like the overall objectives of the Bank, the various stages of the marketing plan including a more detailed analysis of the marketing mix, future actions that should be taken during the growth and maturity of the product and perceptions and stages in the buying behaviour.

[325 words]

TOTAL  [1445 words]

 

7                    REFERENCES

(1)         Charley Watkins, (1999), Marketing, Sales & Customer Services, Kent, Financial World Publishing.

(2)         Michael J.Baker, (1996), Marketing - An Introductory Text, Sixth Edition, MacMillan Business.

(3)         http://www.marketingteacher.com/index.html, 11 November 2001, Tim Friesner.

(4)         The Chartered Institute of Bankers, (1997), Customer Services – Marketing and the Competitive Environment.

(5)         Rose / Watkins, (1997), Retailing of Financial Services, Kent, Institute of Financial Services.