Strategic Marketing & Value for the Customer

Week 2 Writing Assignment

Learning Outcomes

  1. Creating Value for Customers:  Student can demonstrate an understanding of the concept of value creation.
  2. The Role of the Customer in Company Mission.  Student can assess the company’s commit to serving customer needs as evidenced in a company’s mission statement.
  3. SWOT analysis:  Student can conduct a simple SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of a product or service offering and draw inferences from an analysis of the results.
  4. Competitive Analysis:  Student can conduct a simple competitive analysis based on criteria important to the customers of the product or service.

Directions

  • Step One: Select your product or service offering from the list in Writing Assignment Instructions. The same product/service will be used in all four of your writing assignments.
  • Step Two: Research your product or service offering through the Internet and UMGC’s virtual library (your references will need to be mostly academic sources. See library services if you do not know what an academic source means) and your own outside research.  Do not limit yourself to searching solely on the product or service name.  Look up the industry it is in (Hoovers.com is a good source for this via the UMGC library) and search on that industry as well.  Look up the direct competitors.  Check industry journals and the trade press. Ask your family, friends, coworkers and others what they think about the product and each of the competitors.  You may want to visit a retailer to compare the products on the shelves or visit all of the websites.  Keep all your research as you will need it for future writing assignments.
    • [Optional] Think about the customers with whom the company regularly communicates, offers special deals, etc.  These are the  Most Valuable Customers (MVC) of the product or service. You may want to find an MVC if you are not one yourself.  What is the evidence of an MVC of your product or service?  It isn’t just that the customer regularly buys the product or service.  It means that the customer is treated differently — better — than other customers.  The MVC represents about 20% of the company’s revenues.
    • [Optional] To truly understand the MVC for your product You may want to calculate the lifetime value of a most valuable customer.  See the discussion of the lifetime value calculation in the week’s reading, and calculate the LTV using this simple equation:  LTV = (Price – cost to produce the product) * number of annual purchases * number of years expected to purchase – initial acquisition costs.  For simplicity sake, you can assume your customer will have a relationship with you for ten years and you can make an educated guess as to how much the initial acquisition costs were to get him as a customer in terms of advertising or other types of promotion efforts.   If you are not an MVC yourself, make and share your assumptions about your calculation. If you are not an MVC, you might want to find someone who is and ask them why they are loyal to the product or service and what they feel the company does for them that is special that they don’t do for other customers.
  • Step Three:  Prepare your assignment beginning with a title page with your name and the name of your product or service.  Then answer each of the following questions (two in part 1 and two in part 2) in order and number the beginning of your response to each question.  Although you do not need to repeat the question, each section should have a heading.  The paper should contain approximately 4-5 total pages of analysis for the responses to the  questions.  See Writing Assignment Instructions for full details of the requirements, including the grading rubric associated with this assignment.

Part 1 – Customer Value & Role in Mission

  1. Creating Value for Customers. Consider the customers you believe currently use your product or service and the definition of marketing offered in the course content.  Discuss how you think the company creates value for its customers based on the concepts in this week’s readings.
  2. Role of the Customer in the Company’s Mission.  The readings indicate that the best marketing begins with the customer and that commitment to the customer begins with including the customer in the company’s mission statement.  Find your company’s mission statement.  Copy, paste and cite the company mission statement (or attach as an exhibit if it is too long). Comment on its effectiveness in demonstrating the company’s commitment to having a customer focus.  Could the mission statement have more focus on the customer?  How would you recommend it be modified?  Is it supported with value statements or other evidence of a customer focus?

Part 2 – Company Analysis

  1. SWOT analysis.  Identify at least one element of each of the SWOT categories (a strength, a weakness, an opportunity, and a threat).  Explain your choice using a citation if needed.  Then identify possible implications for each of the four elements. Create a Table in which these elements are posted.  For example, if a strength is a strong national brand name, the implication is that the company may be able to launch other related products under the positive umbrella of the same brand name.  Conversely, if a major weakness is the company is carrying a lot of debt, the implication is that the company not be able to achieve significant growth, but may have to consider retrenchment strategies.  
  2. Competitive Analysis. Identify at least two major competitors or those two products that are trying to sell essentially identical products to the same type of consumer.  Then, identify at least three criteria that are important to those consumers when they are making their decision as to which of the three competing offers to buy (e.g. price, specific benefit, service, warranty, convenience, specific feature, etc.).  Make a chart with the three criteria along the left-hand side and the competitor products (including your own product) across the top.  Rank each of the products on a scale from 1= low to 5= high on each performs on each of the three criteria.  Add down each column.   Which product ranked highest overall based on the sum of the columns?  Then, look at the highest score in each of the criteria boxes. Explain the following…Which products ranked the highest on each of the three criteria? Was it the same product, was it three different products?  What do these results tell you about the competitive environment of your product category.  Which product is the leader?  Which product is the follower, challenger and nicher, if those categories apply?  Include your chart in your text.
 
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