Shirts Locker entered the market four years ago selling ‘affordable’ shirts. Their proposition is to provide both men and women with a good selection of quality formal and casual shirts in the widest possible range of colors. Shirt styles include formal and casual, long and short sleeved, shirts, together with t-shirts, polo shirts and sweatshirts.
Sales are generated via two key channels, their website and a mail order catalogue. The catalogue is mailed twice a year to their customer database in line with the two core sales seasons: ‘Spring- Summer’, sent out in April each year and ‘Autumn-Winter’, sent out in September. They also have a telephone hotline that is open Monday to Sunday 8.30am – 6.30pm, and can be contacted to order products, track delivery or arrange returns.
Although Shirts Locker is still a relatively small online business it has already built a strong brand position. Its competitors on one side include classic shirt providers such as Charles Tyrwhitt, Joseph Turner and Thomas Pink, through to specialist online companies selling casual wear such as Cotton Traders. It also competes with high street stores, particularly those that focus on ‘basics in all colors’, such as American Apparel.
Their ecommerce website provides:
- Access to over 2,000 individual items
- Photographs of all of the styles that can be selected by color and size, as shown in Fig 1.
- Secure web server facility for credit/debit card transactions
- Delivery options: Free 3 day delivery on sales over £50 or £5.50 for next day delivery
They have an overall database of 30,000 customers, of which 5,000 were added in the last year, and their research indicates that the customer base is made up primarily of:
- Broadly aged 25 – 60
- Even split between males and females
- Average household income over £50,000
The financial year (FY) has just ended and the company turnover was slightly over £800,000. This was generated from the sale of 35,550 items via 10,750 individual orders. The Average Order Value (AOV) per customer basket was just under £75, with customers buying an average of three items per order – driven predominantly by the ongoing ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ incentive that they use.
The data has been collected across three order points, namely the web, telephone and by post, as shown in Figure 2 overleaf.
Fig-2 Results and end of FY
|Total Orders||Total Value||Avg O/V||Total Items||Avg I/V||Items/Order|
Traditionally 50% of their sales have come from new customer acquisitions and 50% from existing customers making repeat sales. On average 20% of customers repurchase once during the year. To support this, their marketing communications mix has included:
- Direct Mail – sending catalogues to the 30,000 customers on their database twice a year at a total cost of £90,000
- Email – monthly emails to the current list of 23,800 opted-in email subscribers with latest products, ideas and promotions. A ‘notional’ cost of £500 per month is attributed to cover staff time. Purchases linking from email offers are attributed to the web.
- Search Advertising – utilising paid search across a few keywords. ‘Shirts’ and ‘T-shirts’ cost on average £1.40 PPC, with 1 in 20 converting into a purchase.
- They do not use social media, although they did start a Twitter page in response to a number of customer complaints that were posted on that channel. The complaints were predominantly about delivery delays and the company has recently changed its courier service.
- They have not used any affiliates nor display advertising, either online or offline.
Forecast and statistics to date
Shirts Locker have forecast to increase the turnover for their next financial year (assume this starts imminently) by 25%, generating just over £1m from around 13,500 sales. They have assumed quite simply that the average order values would be maintained year on year, as would the general split of sales by channel.
Unfortunately, the latest figures show that they might not achieve this. The big problem is that they are not attracting the additional volume of new customers that are needed, a factor that will also impact on the forecasts for repeat sales later in the year. As a result they have appointed your Digital Marketing Agency and allocated budget to boost their customer acquisition efforts.
Develop a 12-month digital marketing campaign to acquire 4,500 new customers that contribute towards the overall sales target. They have allocated an online marketing budget of £180,000.
The digital marketing plan should include:
- An analysis of the business situation, key issues to be addressed, a statement of the core objectives along with any relevant sub-objectives that you may have and identification of relevant KPIs
- Key strategies; including identification of target market/s and audience personas, exploration of key propositions/message strategy and details of measurement strategy, outlining key metrics and how they relate to your KPIs
- Tactical online media plan including details of key media channels, with examples of media vehicles and how they will be used, timing, plans for testing individual elements and integration, etc.
- Detailed budget, including estimates for Sales by Channel & AOV
Assignment structure (SOSTAC)
To produce a robust report, and gain good marks, you must:
- Assimilate the facts contained in the brief itself
- Carry out additional research (such as market condition, consumer insight and competitor analysis using relevant resources in the public domain)
- Apply the learning from your qualification to demonstrate you understand them
- Structure your report to build a logical argument, clearly answering all elements of the task
Where are we now?
Think about performance,capabilities,resources,customer insight,brand perception,PESTLE/SWOT analysis,competition and market dynamics(internal and external analysis)
Where do we want to be?
Consider the long,medium and short-term objectives covering sales,market share,cutomer service,efficiency gains
How do we get there?
Segmentation,targeting,positioning,7ps,brand and creative proposition.
How exactly do we get there?
Tactics are the details of the strategy
Marketing mix and communications mix
What is our plans?
Who does what,when?(Internal and external resources)
Drill down into the details of the tactics
Explore systems and process.
Are we getting there?
How do we monitor performance?
What control systems are in place?
What happens with feedback?
This section appears at the beginning, but can’t be written until you have completed your recommendations. The executive summary is not an introduction to the report; it’s a short section that sharply states the key issues arising from the analysis, the main objectives, the strategy and planning recommendations and a very top line summary of revenues and costs (including targets and ROI). Its purpose is to allow readers to assimilate the report’s key messages without having to read the whole of it.
To fully understand the task and create the best solution, you need to begin relevant analysis to unravel any complexities and expose the key issues. You can’t propose relevant objectives and the optimum strategy to achieve them if you haven’t fully grasped the key issues and challenges for the organization.
Carrying out a situation analysis demonstrates you understand the organization’s strengths and weaknesses (internal analysis) and have defined the most relevant opportunities and threats (external, or macro-environmental, analysis).
Your report must demonstrate your full understanding of the range of problems and other factors influencing the organization’s marketing approach. Your analysis may hint at possible solutions, but save your actual proposals and plans for the strategy and tactics sections.Start with the external analysis.
External (macro-environmental) analysis
Examine the macro-environmental issues that have a bearing on the case, as these may well influence every other element in your report. The macro-environment encompasses issues that are beyond most organizations’ control or influence; for example, financial services organizations cannot independently influence a recession; oil companies can’t readily influence a political situation that limits oil supply.
PESTLE/PESTEL is a concept used as a tool by companies to track the environment they’re operating in or are planning to launch a new project/product/service etc. It is a mnemonic which in its expanded form denotes P for Political, E for Economic, S for Social, T for Technological, L for Legal and E for Environmental.
Macro-environmental factors are a valuable part of your analysis because they can:
- Point to a need for caution in your stated objectives
- Discount certain strategic directions
- Identify future opportunities, such as emergent technology in response to an environmental trend
Key aspects of external analysis
The competitive market environment:
Identify and consider any competitors the case organization plans to challenge. Assess competitor positioning, differentiating factors and resources. Is your client organisation able to influence buying behaviour, drive competitors out of a market or raise powerful barriers to entry? Show an understanding of the competitive set and which differentiators potentially impact on the case organization.
The market sector (market size, structure, trends):
Discuss relevant trends that offer market and/or product opportunities to the case organization. Use data to support your discussion.
Include a summary of the key factors that make a particular market(s) attractive (or not).
Offer some insight into the buying behaviour, needs and attitudes of the main marketplace segments. This section is an exploration of potential customer segments in the wider marketplace and their product choice behaviour – it’s not a discussion of the case organization’s customer base.
Where the case study provides significant internal detail, you are being invited to use this information to make realistic assertions about the company’s current business and market position.
Detailed internal data can be used as the basis for:
- Understanding the organization’s customers and the segments served
- Reviewing current database practices
- Discussing product range, differentiators, the marketing mix
- Assessing the success of previous marketing or testing campaigns
- Considering revenue and profit performance
- Assessing company resources (competencies and assets)
Careful analysis of the current internal situation provides you with a series of clues to existing opportunities and limiting factors. You must acknowledge these before you can go on to write your strategy and plan.
Assess the material you intend to include in your report, as all data is not of equal relevance in a case. For example, a macro-environmental analysis may use the PESTLE/PESTEL structure, but the political heading may be of little relevance while social and technological issues are of central importance. Your analysis should give greater weight and consideration to the most important factors. Your report’s emphasis is determined by the ‘client’ and intended audience; ensure that your discussion is focused on and relevant to the organization. You should ensure that you draw out the core implications from your analysis and not simply describe the factors under consideration.
SWOT analysis summary and key issue definition
Following the internal and external analysis, a SWOT analysis forms an invaluable summary of the main points and leads into a statement of the key issues that face the organization.
Identify the key issues that have emerged from your situation analysis. Key issues are a succinct definition of the problems the organization must overcome through its strategy (they are not neither objectives nor strategies, but should bridge the analysis and objectives).
Limit yourself to three or four statements. As with PESTLE/PESTEL, these need to be clearly focused on strategic implications for the firm.
An example of a key issue is:
The rise in low budget airlines flying to popular holiday destinations, and increase in online travel reviews, means that Airline XXX’s prospects and customers have more choice and are likely to look beyond price when selecting an airline.
Your objectives should have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-related) characteristics and relate to the key issues you have identified.
In most circumstances, your marketing objectives will reflect the case’s stated or implied objectives. Ideally, work beyond these.
Objectives should include metrics such as:
- The campaign’s overall return on investment (ROI)
- The revenue objective within the defined period
- The number of customers acquired (at cost per customer/acquisition)
- Average unit sales or order value per customer
- Retention level
An example of a SMART objective is:
To generate 300 new leads each month, an increase of 10% against previous targets, at an AMC of £25
You can now present a clear direction. Your strategic choices will reflect the circumstances of the case.
You might propose:
An acquisition-led strategy, concerned with better penetration of existing market segments or new market and segment development
A strategy that balances relationship marketing, building customer retention levels, engagement, value and customer acquisition.
Each case is different and you will need to judge the most appropriate elements of the strategy that allow you to offer direction and recommendations. However, it is not appropriate to try to turn the company into something it isn’t, for example by proposing a major corporate acquisition or dramatically changing its mission statement.
As your proposed marketing strategy should always be customer focused, a segmentation and targeting strategy is a logical strategic starting point.
Understand the value of your customer segments; you may wish to calculate Lifetime Value (LTV) to determine who your key targets are.
Segmentation and targeting strategy
Your segmentation and targeting decisions should be based on case study information combined with your own judgment and research. Targeting is the single biggest influence on response so make this section count. Include a compelling rationale for your segmentation strategy, for example:
- How will you define the segments you have decided to approach – gender, geography, socioeconomics, lifestyle, needs, attitudes, behaviour, value or combinations thereof?
- What are the characteristics of the target audience(s)?
- Is there more than one target group; a primary and a secondary audience?
- Do you need to adopt a testing strategy to determine the most responsive or profitable target groups?
- Persona development
You may want to define your supporting specific strategic approaches, where applicable and pertinent to the case study, such as:
Product, brand and positioning strategy: it may be appropriate to explore specific aspects of the product range, promotional offers, pricing and brand proposition
Creative strategy: your ideas about the main creative concept, primary and secondary offers and key campaign messages and calls-to-action
Channel strategy: organizations can create different brands for different channels or vertically integrate. For example, banks provide complex products and services via high street branches, ATMs, telephone, Internet and financial advisors; a multi-faceted distribution strategy
Communications strategy: justify your communications strategy in terms of its efficiency in reaching the target audience and generating a cost-effective response; i.e. within the target cost per customer or sale
Database and information strategy (including testing): recommendations on best practice management in accordance with the latest technical and legal developments (data protection and privacy). Database development supports your CRM contact strategy, allowing key database segments to be accurately targeted and tracked based on lifetime value analysis and other key data
Customer relationship (CRM) strategy: Good relationship management involves considering every ‘touch’ or contact point between a customer and the organization.
Although a detailed touch point strategy will usually be outside the scope of your case report, it’s worth remembering that every service encounter offers a marketing and selling opportunity as well as a chance to enhance the brand, generate loyalty and increase customer value. A predicted lifetime value calculation will support your CRM proposal
Research strategy: it may be relevant to include a research strategy (pre- or post- campaign) as part of your report. Your analysis of the case material and third-party research may highlight critical information gaps
Whereas strategy provides clear direction, the tactical plan gives clear instruction. This section of your report contains the detailed plans to implement your proposals and explain what happens and when.
You will need to consider price, proposition and the development of message linked to the product(s) to be marketed, the benefits of adopting more than one communications tool, presenting an in-depth campaign approach detailing your communications activities. You will need to show the rationale behind your choice of media, brand building and direct response. Unless it is specifically stated in the assignment brief that a limited media selection is appropriate, you should aim to demonstrate an integrated approach in your communications planning; an awareness of the media multiplier effect and the importance of timing. For example, brand advertising, PR and sales promotion can be used to support direct response advertising where there is sufficient budget.
You will also need to discuss the logic behind the phases of the campaign, although much of the actual detail may be contained in your media schedule. Although your media budget and schedule will provide much of the information required in a tabular format, do ensure that you have explained the structure of your campaign plans and the rationale that supports your decisions.
Your media choices must be considered in relation to customer channel-preference balanced against cost and delivery potential. You will be expected to demonstrate a practical knowledge of how each selected channel performs a specified role within your plan. For example, the strategy may recommend display advertising as a key channel. The tactics should consider advertising frequency, message/creative, positioning and measurement.
At each contact point in the customer journey (across each of your segments), the changing substance of the messaging needs to be explored in detail. Consider the information different segments will find most engaging at each stage of the journey to purchase. At the awareness stage, messages can be simple positioning and differentiating statements. As the journey enters the preference phase, messages should contain more specific information about products and services. As the campaign enters the conversion phase, details about call to action offers, guarantees, payment and delivery details become important. As the campaign moves beyond the conversion phase, details regarding transactions, welcome schemes, up-sell and cross-sell plans become important.
Every marketing campaign is a test of your ability to organise resources, processes and people. In this part of your plan you need to consider the logical process of developing and delivering each component in sequence. Data needs to be processed. Analytics need to be set up. Keywords need to be audited. Content, where appropriate, needs to be developed for social, display, email and PPC. Web sites and landing pages need to be optimized. Affiliate relationships need to be developed. Data capture needs to be considered. This list is for guidance only and is by no means definitive. The use of channels and actions will be specifically influenced by your evaluation of the market context, the client business and the task explored in your situation analysis.
In this section, you will also need to assign tasks or at least determine if you will be using in-house teams, external agencies or both? Resourcing campaigns and the associated costs need to be reconciled. You will also need to identify what resources, systems and processes need to be augmented/updated/replaced in order to deliver to your objectives.
Control (and contingency)
As your plan is put into action, it is important to check everything is on track. The ‘control’ element of your assignment is where you’ll explain how to monitor performance, i.e. what control systems are in place (reports, usability testing, customer satisfaction surveys etc.) and what happens with the feedback you receive.
A brief contingency plan to accompany your tracking and control measures (analytics and metrics) will demonstrate detailed marketing planning ability. Online media allows for cost-effective rapid format and offer changes, and this should opportunity should be maximized and part of a campaign optimization agenda that could also include testing plans for campaign activities.
You will be expected to include a table/spreadsheet showing predicted revenue and profit for your customer acquisition and/or retention plans – linked to your campaign objectives – to demonstrate that your proposal can achieve what it claims. The budget should not under-perform on the stated objectives.
Include a top line statement of media costs and performance.
You may decide to include supplementary tables showing cost breakdowns for each media type or campaign element.
A detailed communication budget should show the circulation/universe, ad format, ad cost, predicted response rate, predicted customer acquisition volume and cost per customer. You can link this to sales value to show return on marketing investment (ROMI).
You also need to include advertising frequency and the total campaign outcome, linking back to your target acquisition cost and volume objectives. One very quick credibility check of your report is to compare the report’s objectives with the budget to see if the objectives have been realized in a believable way!
Different acquisition media will produce different LTVs – it’s helpful to allocate some sort of simple ratio to each result. Your budget should be as realistic as possible, reflecting real-life costs and response rates.
Example of a balanced budget
The table below shows a balanced budget and allowable marketing cost (AMC):
To deliver 10,250 sales at an AMC of £10.50
Your appendices should contain raw data, tables, diagrams, charts and other evidence to support your recommendations. The appendices should be valuable to the reader and every appendix item should be referenced in the body text.
Do not include photocopied report pages in the appendix. The reader has no desire to receive, for example, full surveys or filed accounts. Credit in-text tables in an adjacent reference.
Remember, the appendices are to be included in the word count.