Task 1 – Marketing Audits
a) Discuss the main elements of marketing planning
For marketing planning to occur, there must be a management team that is overseeing the development of the plan. Without this, coordination is lost and the results could frustrate the management when the set objectives are not met (Hatton, 2000). The management team organises every detail of marketing planning including identification of target markets, making the budget and implementing the plan among others. In the case of Easycut which is a sole proprietorship, the owner may seek help from a friend, family member or professional to help in marketing planning.
Defining a mission
The mission depicts the purpose for marketing planning. It should identify why the plan is being made and what it is aimed at achieving. It also involves identifying the target customers besides identifying why they were chosen. In defining the mission, it is important to identify what the business intends to do, what the business might do and what it will not do (McDonald, 2002). Easycut for example aims at serving the women in the area to give them the most desirable hair care service. Several men could also form the business’ customer base.
Marketing planning is a sensitive area that needs articulate attention and resources. A budget is therefore vital not only because it shows how the resources are going to be used but because it also helps in identifying whether the target has been met after the plan has been implemented (Hatton, 2000). The budget is made after careful consideration of all activities that will be involved in the marketing activity.
Marketing planning can only work effectively where there are objectives that the business seeks to attain. The objectives are set depending on the needs and the resources available to the company. They must be realistic and achievable and should have a time frame. McDonald (2002) also notes that the management should plan for the objectives so that those with the highest priority are considered first. The highest priority at Easycut is to attract new customers since it is still a new business and the customer base is still low.
This is one of the most vital processes of marketing planning as it helps to identify the various issues in the business environment. By conducting analyses such as PEST analysis or SWOT analysis, it is easy to understand how to go about making the plans based on the findings. The businesses owner of Easycut needs to identify his competitors and their strengths so as to design strategies to compete against them. A proper understanding also entails knowledge of the economical and legal factors that are most likely to affect the business.
Depending on the findings obtained after performing an analysis of the business’ internal and external environment, market strategies can then be formulated. Market strategies define the major activities to be conducted so as to ensure that the objectives set for the plan are met (Hatton, 2000). Marketing strategies are not to be confused with tactics.
b) Internal audit on Easycut
Internal Marketing Environment
An analysis of the five M’s: Money, Men, Minutes, Materials and Machinery are as follows:
Money – the business has been able to accumulate a profit of £8,215. This is being used together with additional capital to restock the salon and perform marketing duties.
Men-Two men and one lady are currently performing the marketing of the business.
Minutes: The employees involves dedicate their time from 8 am in the morning to 5 pm in the evening.
Machinery: The business possesses several machines including driers and heaters that are used in making the clients’ hair.
The marketing team is effective and so far they have managed to attract quite a number of customers. Profits as at the end of the fourth year in operation was £2,814 as compared to £1,029 after the first month of operations. This shows that the marketing strategies used are working well. So far, the customers are being reached in a proper manner and the number of customers is constantly increasing.
External Marketing Environment
The customers in the area are very specific about the hairstyles that they want and most of them will come with photographs of their favourite role models to ask for the same hairstyle. As a result, the employees have to be very keen in making the customers satisfied. Several customers are already developing loyalty to Easycut salon and have visited the salon regularly. Lifestyles are evolving at a high rate and women are now becoming career oriented thus increasing their level of disposable income. Competition in the areas is quite high since there are five more hair salons in the area. These salons have a constant flow of income since they have already established brand loyalty.
c) PEST Analysis
The government is highly supportive to small businesses started by individuals seeking to promote their income so as to enhance job creation. As a result, the government is keen on ensuring that they get the highest support possible including tax exemptions. The political arena is very volatile and could change from time to time affecting the business in a big way. Elections for example could cause changes in spending patterns due to temporary inflation. The political factors are however stable currently.
The trends in the home economy are stable given that the value of the currency is quite stable. Personal income on average is also encouraging which means that business in the area is good. When it comes to issues of taxation, sole proprietorships do not attract high amounts of taxes as compared to other forms of businesses. The business expenses are therefore controlled. Customer preferences are highly determined by the trends and new products in the market so that the business owners are constantly coming up with new business ideas.
Due to the nature of the business, it is influenced by social factors to a large extent. The following are among the major factors:
Trends: The social conditions are quite conducive for Easycut. In this country town, lifestyle trends among women are changing at a high rate. This can be attributed to the fact that many of them are now working and overcoming the tradition where men used to work while the women stayed at home to take care of the house and the children. With this increased income, they can afford to visit the hair salon from time to time to have their hair done.
Role models and fashion: Role models play a significant role in determining people’s tastes and preferences. Hair styles that are used by top models, musicians and actors among other celebrities are bound to attract high demand. Such personalities as seen on TV and in the neighbourhood are fashion icons and determine the hairstyles that will be demanded. Since Easycut is dynamic and intends to follow fashion trends as closely as possible, it will definitely attract a large number of customers.
It is now fashionable for men to plait their hair or relax it which could be a good opportunity for Easycut. This is a trend that is developing among men so that more of them are keeping long hair which often needs to be styled or plaited. This trend has been associated with peer and media influence. Musicians and actors are spotting long hair which their admirers are trying to imitate. With the number of men that prefer to have a hairstyle growing by the day, Easycut could anticipate for more customers as time goes by.
Brand: Easycut salon has a unique name that depicts fast service from the word easy. As a result, Easycut could attract a large number of customers from the town. It is also common to find that out of curiosity, customers like testing new businesses so as to establish whether they are offering better services than what they have been getting. From this group of customers, Easycut could attract a large number of customers through recommendations made by those who have visited the salon.
The technology in place right now is useful and convenient to the business. This however may not last long due to the rapid technological changes occurring in the world today. The salon makes use of regular salon equipment in the form of driers, heaters, scrubbers and blow-driers among others. These models could be outdated in a few years as innovation brings about better technology in the market. Constant improvement is therefore required to ensure that the machines being used at the salon match the current trends in technology. This will retain customers as they are always curious about testing new things and could go to competitors to get them.
Task 2 – Barriers to Marketing Planning
a) Barriers that Easycut might meet when marketing planning
Marketing planning could be challenging more so for persons who are not well experienced in business. In an attempt to perform marketing planning, Easycut could be faced with several challenges. The following is a discussion of the likely challnges.
Differentiating marketing strategy from marketing tactics could be difficult which may bring in confusion in the formulation of a market plan. In the case of Easycut, the owner may make use of marketing tactics instead of strategies so that the longterm goals are not addressed. In such an occasion, the effectiveness of the plan could be derailed.
Easycut could face the challenge of being unable to isolate the marketing function from other functions in the business. The proprietor may find himself including other functions such as operations in marketing planning so that the theme of the plan is lost. The business plan must only address factors significant to the marketing function.
Structuring the market plan could be challenged by barriers existing within the business such that the strategic business units are not well defined. Such organisational factors could include culture, tribal backgrounds and organisational politics among others; all which could easily deter proper preparation of a marketing planning.
In the event that the proprietors are not well familiar with marketing planning, there is a likelihood that the analysis performed may not be adequate. McDonald (2002) notes that the analysis for marketing planning should be in-depth so as to facilitate informed decision making. Poor analysis may therefore form a barrier to effective marketing planning.
Skills and knowledge are a fundamental requirement in marketing planning. This is because a lot of processes and procedures are involved in marketing planning. Inadequate knowledge and skills is therefore a barrier to marketing planning and could lead to poor identification of the viability of the business strategy.
Another barrier that Easycut is likely to face is the inability to set priorities on their objectives. In such a business, owners may feel that making profit is more important than attracting customers and retaining them.
In the bid to gain popularity in order to attract customers into the business, the owner of Easycut may find himself constantly fighting with issues of ethics. Due to high levels of competition and hostility met by businesses entering the market for example, he may lower prices below normal in order to attract customers which may not auger well with competitors.
b) Overcoming the barriers using the ‘Ten S’
Strategy before tactic
For a business that wants to effectively succeed in marketing, it has to start with developing a strategic plan. McDonald (2002) notes that the plan should range between three and five years and should be designed first before the one year plan should be made. When the Easycut owner is designing the plan, he should refrain from mixing tactics with strategy. While strategy shows the long-range plans and how they will be achieved, tactics are used to depict the various tricks that the business will use to lure customers hence gain a competitive edge.
Situate marketing within operation
Marketing is a part of operations but which operates as a distinct area. For this reason, it should be situated within the operation but resources and processes required in marketing should be assessed separately with an aim of achieving the set objectives.
Shared value about marketing
So as to avoid any confusion during the structuring of the marketing plan, there is need to establish shared values about marketing so that decisions made are appropriate (McDonald, 2002). The problem comes where there is confusion between output and policies.
Structure around markets
Making decisions on the basis of personal preferences, tribal affiliations and race among others are not helpful to the business at al. They only lead to failure and therefore they should be avoided. All decisions made within the business should be structured around markets and around factors that are important to the welfare of the business as a whole (Hatton, 2000).
Scan the environment thoroughly
It pays to have complete information during marketing planning. The environment plays a significant role during the process of making a marketing plan because the owner can base decisions on the situation in the market. To enhance this, analysis should start early so that every possible information is obtained. This will eliminate the problem of lack of in-depth analysis.
Summarize information in SWOT analysis
The use of a SWOT analysis helps in identifying the various factors in the business environment so that strategies designed can be inclined towards enhancing the business’ strengths and opportunities while minimising weaknesses and threats. When all information has been summarised, the process and output can be summarised so that it becomes easier to design the plan.
Skills and knowledge
Skills and knowledge must be acquired for such an important task as marketing planning to be performed effectively. The owner may opt to obtain this knowledge which he can then apply to make the marketing plan. If this proves difficult, there is an option of getting a professional to do the marketing planning at a fee (Hatton, 2000). This could be costly hence the reason why the owner should strive at obtaining the information on how to write the plan. This could be obtained from internet sources and scholarly books about marketing available in most libraries.
The use of synergies calls for a systematic approach when a market plan is being designed. There is need for the business to identify synergies that they are likely to gain from marketing planning and focus on them.
Many businesses are likely to fail due to poor prioritisation of objectives. The owner of Easycut should place the most important objectives first while the less important objectives are placed last. This avoids wastage of resources and enhances success of the business as the best considerations are made.
Style and culture
Every business oughts to maintain its culture so that it does not impact on its activities. McDonald (2002) notes that it is unfortunate how many businesses tend to lose their focus because they are not ready to change their culture.
Task 3 – The Beauty Products Marketing Plan
The beauty products unit will act like a supporting unit; aiding the salon in increasing its profit base and attracting more customers to the salon. It is an opportunity seeker given that customers seeking hair services are likely to demand beauty products too. It is therefore an effective way of supplementing the business income. Easycut intends to ensure that every customer receives the best beauty products that the market can offer. The beauty product unit will stock all types of beauty products including face products, body and hair products that will cater for every customer’s need. Since the objective of customers seeking beauty products is to get better skin appearance, Easycut will ensure that this is provided to effectively satisfy customer needs. This unit will possess a distinctive competence in that through the marketing network to be introduced, the products will be distributed to customers who cannot access the salon in their areas of residence. This will not only make the customer base wider but also put Easycut at a competitive advantage over its competitors. The project is expected to do well and good returns are expected in future. This can be justified by the ever rising demand for beauty products as people put more value into looking good. Consequently, the business will expand the to other regions in the town. If all goes well, we might even consider expanding to other locations around the country and introduce more merchandise such as clothing.
Summary of performance
Gross profit in the last four months
Ist month 2nd month 3rd month 4th month Total
£1,029 £1,879 £2,493 £2,814 £ 8,215
This performance is obtained from the Salon’s profits during the four months that it has been in operation. The poor performance can be attributed to the fact that the business is still new and has not attracted enough clients. There were also high levels of expenses incurred in advertisements and free services aimed at enticing customers into the salon. This income is however expected to rise with time.
In the three year period that this marketing plan covers, it is expected that the aggregate profits obtained will be £302, 000. This means that the business should be able to make about £100, 600 per year in profits in the sale of beauty products.
Key market: Women who are the major target customers are many in the area so that the structure is well defined. They can be easily reached from home or their place of work so that marketing is made easy.
Market trends: Fashion is quickly becoming important as people try to imitate top celebrity styles. Women are also increasing their disposable income by working more than they used to do a few years back. There is a promising future for Easycuts cosmetics if trend continue like this.
Competitive forces: About five hair salons can be found in the area and which are a constant competition for Easycuts. A lot of advertisement is therefore required.
-High population in the area
-Highly experienced staff
-Close follow up of customer needs given their staff members are young and dynamic.
-Technology of machines used not adequate enough.
-The location is not as conducive as in a big city.
-Small working area hence can only handle few customers at a time.
-Changing trends in the market with demand for beauty products rising.
-Rising income among women who will make up the largest number of customers.
-Opportunities to expand into other lines such as clothing using the same customer target.
-Large number of competitors
-Economic fluctuations which are barely predictable.
Objectives and strategies
To ensure that the customer demands are met effectively
To promote profitability for Easycuts to a tune of £302, 000 in the first three years
To continually identify customer needs and address them accordingly
Select the best products for the customers
Strive to know customer needs so as to obtain the right products.
Compare prices and quality before making purchases on behalf of clients.
Reasonable price for the products so as to attract customers
Terms of purchase to be made strictly cash with an exception of regular customers who may also get discounts.
Establish distributive channels
Using door to door delivery to reach more customers
Employ more staff and purchase a vehicle once the products finally pick up
Offer free gifts to attract customers.
Change promotion strategies when change in trends occur.
Possibility of expansion in the product line
Besides dealing with hair and beauty products, Easycut could venture into the sale of fashion clothes for women. Judging from the current trends where women are continually getting stable careers and increasing their income, there lies a potential market for trendy fashion clothes. This kind of expansion could see the business grow in terms of capital and profits.
Task 4 – Ethical Issues
Being a service business, Easycut will deal with clients directly hence the need to be very careful with ethical issues. Ethical issues likely to be faced are discussed below in relation to the product mix.
Product: The beauty products are a sensitive area to practice in because any harmful effects suffered from the use of these products could culminate in deleterious effects for the business. In dealing with the beauty products therefore, attentive care will be given to avoid the purchase of counterfeit products which could bring negative effects on the users. To ensure product safety, research should be performed and customer communication is required to get any complaints that may arise.
Pricing: Ethics on pricing should receive special attention. Issues of price fixing, deceptive prices and predatory pricing should be avoided as much as possible. Price discrimination based on any criteria should also be avoided. It is not morally right to obtain more than what is rightfully required as it oppresses customers. If the customers get wind of what is happening, the business could lose out as they move to competitors.
Place: It is the duty of the business to make sure that the products are delivered to the customers so as to satisfy the notion of place in the marketing mix. The business should also be aware that restricting supply through hoarding is considered an ethical as well as a legal wrong. This usually occurs when businesses keep products so as to sell them at a higher price when the supply is limited. This could get the business in trouble with the legal authorities hence the need to avoid it.
Promotion: The business will need to address issues such as ethics in personal selling and sales promotion so as to avoid deceptive advertising. The use of hidden persuaders such as children who are considered a vulnerable group in marketing should be avoided. Since there are competitors in the same line of business, Easycut will have to be cautious about ethical issues affecting other operators in the area. For example, it is ethically wrong to talk ill of competitors’ products in order to promote the business’ products. It is also wrong to lower prices to a level where it is considered to be unfair competition in a bid to attract customers.
Hatton, A. (2000). The definitive guide to marketing planning. London: FT/Prentice Hall.
McDonald, M. (2002) Marketing Plans: How to prepare them, how to use them, 5th edition, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.