Free Micro-eMBA Module #7: Marketing Your Products/Services and Promoting Your Organization
This module is in the organization development program. However, this module can also be used by anyone as a self-study exercise to learn more about marketing the organization and its products/services.
Sections of This Module Include the Following
- Materials for Review
- Suggested Topics for Reflection and Discussion
- Activities to Build Systems and Practices
- Tracking Open Action Items
There is often a great deal of misunderstanding about marketing. People often consider marketing to be the same as advertising. It’s not. Advertising is only one part of marketing. Very simply put, marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return.
Market analysis includes finding out what groups of customers (or markets) exist, what their needs are, what groups of customers you prefer to serve (target markets), what products or services you might develop to meet their needs, how the customers prefer to use the products and services, what your competitors are doing, what pricing you should use and how you should distribute products and services to customers. Results of this marketing analysis indicates the position, or market “niche”, for the organization to work from — and to be seen as having. Marketing also includes ongoing promotions, which can include advertising, public relations, sales and customer service. Various methods of market research are used to find out information about markets, target markets and their needs, competitors, market trends, customer satisfaction with products and services, etc.
NOTE ABOUT THE LARGE SIZE OF THIS MODULE: This module is one of the largest in the program. The activity of marketing an organization and its products and services is critical to the success of the organization and its products and services — the marketing process is broad and sometimes quite detailed. Learners who have very limited time schedules might proceed through this module primarily by reviewing the learning materials and then thinking about how they would carry out (rather than actually carrying out) the various activities to build structures in their organization.
NOTE ABOUT BOARD COMMITTEES: Consider establishing a Marketing Committee to review and help guide implementation of the information in this learning module. Major activities and goals from this learning module could be incorporated in that Committee’s Committee Work Plan.
Related Library Topics
- Conduct Basic Market Analysis for Each Product
- Draft Your Public and Media Relations Plan
- Draft Your Sales Plan
- Draft Your Advertising and Promotions Plan
- Draft Your Marketing and Promotions Plans
MATERIALS FOR REVIEW
- The following materials will help you address each of the topics and learning activities in this module.
See the “Big Picture” About Marketing
First, scan the text on the following three pages to get a quick idea of what is included in each and differences between the three.
Marketing Basics, Analysis and Positioning
- particularly the sections:
- Marketing (the introduction “Marketing” — A Commonly Misunderstood Term”)
- Basics of Market Planning (read first 7 articles about doing a marketing plan)
- Market Research — particularly the sections:
- Competitive Analysis (read introduction at top of page)
- Pricing (read introduction at top of page)
- Naming and Branding (read introduction at top of page)
- Intellectual Property (read introduction at top of page)
- Positioning (read introduction at top of page)
- particularly the sections:
Advertising and Promotions
Public and Media Relations
- Public and Media Relations, particularly the sections:
Optional — Customer Service
SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- Learners are strongly encouraged to discuss the following questions with peers, board members, management and employees, as appropriate.
Basics of Marketing
1. Define marketing. Advertising. Promotions. Public relations. Publicity. Sales. In your definitions, include how these terms are similar and different. See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales?
2. What is inbound marketing? Outbound marketing? See Marketing (the introduction “Marketing” — A Commonly Misunderstood Term”.
3. What is market analysis? See Basics of Marketing — introduction.
4. What is market research? See Market Research — introduction.
Basics of Marketing Analysis and Positioning
1. What is a target market? How does one define a target market? See Marketing (the introduction “Marketing” — A Commonly Misunderstood Term”.
2. What is a competitor analysis? See Competitive Intelligence — introduction.
3. What should be considered when setting the price for a product or service? See Marketing Pricing — introduction.
4. What should be considered when naming a product or service? See Naming and Branding — introduction.
5. What is intellectual property? See Intellectual Property — introduction.
6. What is a positioning statement? See Positioning — introduction.
Public and Media Relations
1. What is public relations? See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and Managing Your Public Image.
2. Name at least three practices in maintaining strong public relations. See Managing Your Image (Public Relations).
3. What is media relations? See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and Managing Media Relations.
4. Name at least three practices in maintaining strong media relations. See Managing Media Relations.
1. What is sales? See What’s Advertising, Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations and Publicity, and Sales? and What is Sales?
2. What are some basic steps in the sales process? See Understanding the Sales Process.
1. What are some basic steps in the maintaining high-quality customer service? See Customer Service.
ACTIVITIES TO BUILD SYSTEMS AND PRACTICES
- Learners are strongly encouraged to complete the following activities, and share and discuss results with peers, board members, management and employees, as appropriate.
- Various activities below will direct you to complete your Marketing and Promotions Plan by filling in the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan. The Framework is written in HTML Web-based language. You might want to re-create the Framework with your own preferred word-processing software.
- As you proceed through the following activities, be sure to note any incomplete actions in the Action Item Planning List.
Writing Your Marketing Plan for Each Product/Service
NOTE: This Plan should be focused on a particular product or service, because each has its own different description, features and benefits, customers, competitors and pricing.
Describe Your Product or Service
1. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write a description of the product/service. The description should be written as if your customers are the readers. In the description, include the specific groups of customers served by the product/service, nature of the method(s) in the product/service, outcomes for customers and any other benefits to them, and where they should go next if they are interested in using the product/service. Be careful to describe the product/service in terms of benefits to customers, not to you. For example, address pricing, convenience, location, quality, service, atmosphere, etc.
List Your Target Market(s) for the Product/Service
2. In the table in Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write a brief description of the major groups of customers who will benefit from your product/service and the major benefits to them. Remember that the overall strategic goals of the organization very much determine whom you want to serve. For example, strategic goals might be to expand the overall number of customers or markets you have now, get new customers, get more revenue from current customers, etc. You may want to develop new services in a current or new market, or expand current services in a current or new market.
Understanding each of your product/service target markets makes it much easier for you to ensure that your product/service remains highly useful to each of them — each target market tends to be unique. Understanding your target markets helps you to focus on where to promote your product/service, including advertising, conducting public relations campaigns and selling your product/service. If you’ve done a good job so far of market research, then identifying the primary targets market should be fairly straightforward. However, it is very useful to determine several additional target markets. These additional markets are often where you should focus promotions and additional sources of assistance and revenue. (If you struggle to identify your target markets, the following links might help you, including How to Identify a Target Market and Prepare a Customer Profile and Marketing Research.)
Write a Profile of Each Target Market
3. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write a description of each of your target markets. The more you know about your customers, the better you might be at serving them. Consider, for example, their major needs, how they prefer to have their needs met, where they are and where they prefer to have their needs met, and demographics information (their age ranges, family arrangement, education levels, income levels, typical occupations, major interested, etc). Also, consider what methods of communication they might prefer because that’s how you are more likely to be successful to communicate to them, for example, when advertising your product/service.
Analysis of Competitors
4. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write results from your analysis of your competitors. Consider the following questions: Who are your competitors for the product/service? What customer needs are you competing to meet? What are the similarities and differences between their product/service and yours? What are the strengths and weaknesses of their product/service? How do their prices compare to yours? How are they doing overall? How do you plan to compete, for example, offer better quality services, lower prices, more support, easier access to services etc? For assistance, see Competitive Analysis.
Analysis of Collaborators
5. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write results from your analysis of potential collaborators. Who are potential collaborators with your organization and specific to the product/service? What customer needs might you collaborate to meet? What resources might they bring and what could you bring? What could you do next to cultivate collaboration with other organizations? For assistance, see Organizational Alliances.
6. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, write results from your pricing analysis. Several major factors influence the pricing for a product/service. Strategic goals greatly influence pricing. For example, if the organization really wants to get into a new market, then it might charge lower than usual prices in order to generate more customers who buy the service. The organization might consider changing pricing if the demand for its products/services is very high or low. Competitor pricing also has a great effect. If competitors are charging much less, then the organization might do well to lower prices. Similarly, if the competitor is charging much more, then the organization might consider increasing its own prices. For assistance, see Market Pricing.
Write Your Sales Plan
7. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, fill in the sales plan. Regarding your sales planning, consider: What target markets will be approached? What should be your sales method for each target market, for example, who will make initial contacts to generate leads, do follow-ups to initial contacts, make presentations and close sales? How much do you expect to accomplish in sales (consider terms of outputs, such as dollars made, customers recruited, or other units of service). For assistance, see Understanding the Sales Process.
Write Your Advertising and Promotions Plan
8. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, fill in the advertising and promotions plan. The plan includes what target markets you want to reach, what features and benefits you want to convey to each of them, what methods and media you will use to convey it to them, who is responsible to implement the methods and how much money is budgeted for this effort. The plan includes plans for a promotional campaign, including an advertising calendar and media plan. The goals of the plans should depend very much on the overall goals and strategies of the organization, and the results of the marketing analysis, including the positioning statement.
When selecting methods, consider what communications methods and media will be most effective in reaching target markets (groups of customers) and when. What are their preferences for media and when do they use them? (The link Basic Methods to Get Customer Feedback might be helpful now.) Consider, for example, radio, newsletters, classifieds, displays/signs, posters, word of mouth, press releases, direct mail, special events, brochures, neighborhood newsletters, etc. What media is most practical for you to use in terms of access and affordability? (The link Major Methods of Advertising and Promotion might be helpful now.)
For additional assistance, see Advertising and Promotions.
Conduct Your Customer Service Planning
9. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, fill in the customer service plan. When considering how you will ensure strong services to customers, consider: Are customers very satisfied with your services? How do you know? If not, what can you do to improve customer service? How can you do that? What policies and procedures are needed to ensure strong customer service. Include training in your considerations, including to develop skills in interpersonal relations, such as questioning, listening, handling difficult people, handling interpersonal conflicts, negotiating. For assistance, see Customer Service, Basic Methods to Get Feedback from Customers, Questioning, Listening, Handling Interpersonal Conflict, Handling Difficult People and Negotiating.
Conduct Your Production Planning
10. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, fill in section about production planning. Note that the development and implementation of various production methods do not have to be addressed in detail in a marketing plan — these topics are usually included in the operations or management planning for the products and services. However, production should be generally considered during the marketing analysis to ensure the eventual detailed production planning takes into consideration the needs of target markets and having their needs met on time. Consider: What resources do you need to build, reproduce and provide the product/service? How do you know? Will you have sufficient resources into the near future? How do you know?
Conduct Your Distribution Planning
11. In the Framework for Basic Marketing and Promotions Plan, fill in section about distribution planning. Matters of distribution of products/services can be critical for organizations, especially if they are providing critically needed products/services to specific groups of customers.
Carefully consider: What distribution channels should you consider, for example, should customers come to your facility, you visit their offices, can you provide products/services over the telephone or Internet, etc? What resources are needed to bring together your products/services and your target markets? What major steps need to occur to accomplish these distribution channels? (The link Distribution may help you.)
Note that detailed planning about developing and maintaining distribution channels is often included in the operations or management plans, rather than in the marketing plan. However, the marketing analysis should focus on selecting the methods of distribution that best meet the needs of target markets and the organization.
Updating Your Operating Budgets
In an earlier module about strategic planning, you drafted a basic operating budget. Now that you have a stronger sense of what is needed to produce and market your products, you should update the basic draft that you produced earlier.
Draft a Budget for Each of Your Major Products/Services
1. Design a budget for each of your products/services. If you completed Module 6: Developing Your Strategic Plan, then you already have started basic budgets for each of your products/services. Update those budgets with results from completing this module on product design and marketing. Consider expenses of advertising and promotions, production, distribution and customer service. Also consider any updates to expected revenues as a result of any changes in your pricing policy and as a result of your sales goals in your sales plan.
2. Also see consider
- Evaluating Advertising and Promotions Efforts
- Evaluating Sales Efforts
- Measuring Customer Satisfaction
REMINDERS FOR THOSE IN THE ON-LINE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Reminders About You
1. Are you exchanging feedback with others about what you’re learning in this program? If not, you really should be thinking a lot more seriously about this — adults learn by doing something with new information and then exchanging feedback about it.
2. Are you sticking to your study schedule for this program?
3. Are you practicing your basic skills in management and leadership, including in problem solving and decision making, planning and meeting management?
4. Are you communicating throughout your organization by using your skills in internal communications?
5. Are you managing yourself? How many hours a week are you working? Are you noticing any signs of stress? If so, what are you doing about it?
6. One of the ways you might be able to tell if you’re stressed out and/or losing perspective might be whether you’re tracking details or not. Are you using the action item list referenced above?
7. Are you reflecting on learnings from past modules and how they build on the learning in this module? For example, are you seeing your organization from a systems view, as explained in the module “Starting and Understanding Your Organization?”
Reminders About Your organization
1. Now that you’ve given more thought to the design and marketing of your products and services, go back to your strategic plan and update the plans about products, services, staffing and action plans.
TRACKING OPEN ACTION ITEMS
1. One of the first indicators that an organization or a person is struggling is that open action items are not tracked and reviewed. (Open action items are required actions that have not yet been completed.) Instead, people only see and react to the latest “fires” in their workplaces or their lives. Whether open action items are critical to address now or not, they should not entirely be forgotten.
Therefore, update and regularly review a list of open action items (identified while proceeding through this program) that includes listing each open action item, who is responsible to complete it, when it should be completed and any associated comments. When updating the list, consider action items as identified during discussions, learning activities and assessments in this module.
Share and regularly review this action item list with the appropriate peers, board, management and employees in your organization. You can use the following Action Item Planning List. (At that Web address, a box might open, asking you which software application to open the document.)
2. If you have questions, consider posing them in the national, free, online discussion group hr.com, which is attended by many human resource and organization development experts.
(Learners in the organization development program can return to the home page of the organization development program.)
For the Category of Marketing:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.