Developing a Marketing Plan

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Developing a Marketing Plan

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Marketing plans may be long or short, and they will vary among organisations/regions. Whatever their length of character, they are valued as a tool for effective planning and assessment of productivity. The following are some general guidelines for developing a marketing plan. Your Marketing Plan can be more comprehensive than the example but it should include at least the following chapters.

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  1. Developing a Marketing Plan Marketing plans may be long or short, and they will vary among organisations/regions. Whatever their length of character, they are valued as a tool for effective planning and assessment of productivity. The following are some general guidelines for developing a marketing plan. Your Marketing Plan can be more comprehensive than the example but it should include at least the following chapters. 1. Executive Summary Summary is one of the most important parts of the marketing plan. The objective is to give clear understanding what this marketing plan is about without getting into details. Although the summary is located under the first chapter, it is usually completed last after the whole plan is complete. The lengths of a summary should be approximately 2-3 pages. 2. Situation Analysis First, an organisation needs to assess its present situation. This assessment will explore the realities of the industry, the community, the travel product, the economic environment and the potential or present visitors. For tourism marketing, some of the following questions should be asked, the answers to which will give an organisation a better understanding of its current situation. a) What is the present demand for tourism activities and attractions in your community? b) What facilities and resources do you have to market to visitors? c) What is your community known for? What kind of image does the destinations have to outsiders? And to people who live there? d) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a community and how do they impact your tourism markets? e) What changes do you anticipate in the next five years, and will they impact your ability to attract visitors to your destination? f) What other trends might impact your community/destination? g) How responsive is your community to having visitors? Developing a situation analysis is fundamental to better understand the capabilities, potential and interest that may exist for visitors within a destination. 3. Objectives and Goals The second element in developing a marketing plan is the establishment of measurable goals. This can be accomplished only after carefully considering the demand and supply potential of the visitors to a destination. Questions that address this issue are as follows: a) What kind of goals should be established? Should they be short and/or long term? Is there a baseline against which such goals are being set? b) What kinds of tourism markets should be targeted and what are the goals for each market segment? c) How will the organisation assess the attainment of these goals? d) Are the goals realistic in terms of the organisation’s resources, timelines and travel products? 4. Market Segments 1
  2. The third essential element in a marketing plan is that of identifying and selecting the target markets. This is usually called market segmentation. No bureau is equipped with financial resources to simply “market”, “sell”, “advertise” or “promote”. In fact the competition has become so sophisticated that bureaus must identify a dn carefully define their target markets. For tourism sales and marketing efforts, some of those markets may be defined as follows: a) Vacationing Families / Pleasure Travellers b) Incentive Travel/Business Travellers c) Domestic Group Tour Planners d) International Wholesalers e) Travel Agents f) Travel Writers-Media There are additional means for dividing market segments. For example, when examining the general “pleasure traveller” market segment, a organisation, depending on its location and possible seasons, may wish to target its efforts to specific, identifiable subgroups. Each market segment potentially requires a different set of strategies and may require different vehicles for communicating a message. It is fundamental that an organisation knows and understands the characteristics of various market segments. There are several ways of examining market segments through demographics, psychographics and geographic analysis. Demographic variables most commonly used to identify groups include age, sex, income, expenditure patterns, occupation, education, household size, marital status and ethnic background. Psychographics pertains to an individual’s underlying motivations for travel. We can talk about hunters and skiers, which is a means of defining market segments on the basis of behaviours. Psychographic research (or personality research) goes beyond demographics and asks why people behave or select travel products in a certain way. It wants to get at the root of their decision making process, it wants to find out why some select one destination over another or one mode of transportation over another and why different people travel. Psychographic research can measure which population segments will travel, what motives can be identified to increase their potential to travel, what kinds of destinations are preferred, what activities they wish to engage in upon arrival, and what kind of marketing themes need to be creatively developed to focus on their motives and needs. Geography is another means of defining a market segment; for example, an organisation may find that it has a potential market for daytime or overnight tours from group operators within a five-hour drive of that destination. Specific events or activities, such as antique fairs, cultural events or special pageants may be interest to those tour operators who have groups that wish to spend only a day away from their homes. Geographically, this opens a new market segment for an organisation. 5. Marketing Strategies The fourth element in a marketing plan is that of identifying and selecting the appropriate and most productive marketing strategies for the targeted market. There are an abundance of techniques available to an organisation; asking some of these questions will provide guidelines for selecting the best techniques for each market segment. 2
  3. a) Which selected marketing strategies will be the most effective for an identified market segment? What are the strengths and weaknesses of a strategy? Who are affected by a selected strategy? b) What combination of strategies might be most productive in reaching a selected market segment? 6. Resources Fifth, an organisation needs to allocate its resources adequately to support the programs outlined for attaining the desired goals. Without funding and personnel, programs will simply not be productive. a) To what extent will personnel and money be dedicated for a specific program? b) Will the allocation be sufficient to reach the desired program goal? c) Does the organisation have other community resources that might be employed towards a specific program to ensure its success? The issue of funds and staff time becomes a critical element in planning, particularly for smaller organisations. But with planning and some creativity, programs can be implemented and a level of success attained. This chapter should include also an clear and transparent marketing budget. 7. Implementation Sixth, a marketing plan needs to be implemented. When do you do the things you have outlined in a plan? Timing has a lot to do with how successful a marketing plan will be. It affects the placement of advertising and its impact on the targeted market segment; it also will affect how successful one might be in reaching planners during or prior to their planning time. Questions that might direct the implementation of a plan include: a) When is the best time to launch a specific marketing strategy for a specific market segment? b) What kinds of lead times applicable to various market segments would impact goal attainment? c) In what sequence should various marketing elements be implemented? Does one strategy need to follow another to maximize impact? d) And far from least, who is doing what, when, how and with whom? In implementing a program, is it coordinated for maximum bureau efficiency? Organisations always face pressures to implement programs that will provide immediate return on investment. This may not always be the case, especially in the travel trade. 8. Assessment Last, an organisation has to be able to assess the effectiveness of its marketing programs. This does not always mean change; in fact, if a program continues to prove of value, then there may be little reason to change it. On the other hand, if a marketing effort seems to fizzle, being able to make an evaluation then is imperative. a) What kinds of results are being sought in a specific marketing effort? Are the results quantified? b) What kinds of criteria have been established against which to assess a marketing program? c) What kinds of contingencies have been developed for a program that may prove less effective that intended? 3
  4. Because of the diversity of market segments, which compose the tourism industry, a marketing plan is much like a navigational chart. The marketing plan requires a look at all the relevant activities, define goals, identifies markets, selects strategies, makes assessments and determines results. Navigation likewise plots courses, charts status and aims for the final destination. The development of a marketing plan does not require intensive scholarly work; it is an attitude that will govern and influence the directions an organisation intends to go. The investment of time is critical to the most efficient use of organisation’s resources. These guidelines are based on “Destination Marketing” by Richard B. Gartrell. 4
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