Marketing Plan Development
A marketing plan provides direction and focus for a utility’s marketing and sales efforts. It is a detailed, written plan that identifies the actions, personnel and resources necessary for a utility to achieve its marketing and sales goals. Like any other plan, the effectiveness of a marketing plan depends on how well the plan is executed. Even an average plan can succeed if it is well executed, and an excellent plan may fail if it is not understood or supported by the utility’s employees. Because superior execution is greatly influenced by employee support and buy-in, it is essential for utility personnel to be actively involved in developing the marketing plan.
While utility personnel know the customers and the geographic area that they serve, they may not be familiar with the steps in developing a sound marketing plan. This course offers a managed group project that will assist utility personnel in developing an effective marketing plan for their utility. This project will provide direction by identifying the questions that need to be answered, instruct personnel in the analytical techniques to answer these questions, and provide a format for marketing plan development.
The managed, group project is a structured hands-on environment in which participants will be lead through the development of their own written marketing plan. During this project, they will analyze and study their own cooperative and its competitors. Based on this analysis, participants will determine the appropriate marketing strategy and marketing mix for their cooperative and prepare a written marketing plan. The managed group project will consist of 4 one-day group sessions with about one month between sessions for the participants to work on key elements of the marketing plan that were covered in the previous session. The project manager will review all work products and provide individual feedback to the participants. The project manager will also be available by phone to answer individual questions between sessions. No more than six cooperatives will be allowed to participate in the managed, group project, although each cooperative can bring up to 3 people per session. This limitation is necessary in order to allow a high level of individual attention to participants. The project will cover the following topics and will result in a written marketing plan for each cooperative that participates.
Part 1 – Self Assessment
A. List all of the products and services that you currently provide.
1) Description of each product or service
2) Price of the product or service
3) Current sales practices
4) Current customer service and support for each service
5) Any guarantees or warranties
6) Number of customers purchasing the product or service
7) Revenues from each product or service
8) Estimated costs of providing the product or service
B. Description of existing service territory
1) Number of electric customers
2) Describe customer mix (residential, commercial, industrial)
3) Growth rates (customers and sales)
C. Summary of financial results from RUS form 7
1) Margins from electric sales
2) Margins from sales of other products and services
D. What are our strengths?
E. What are our weaknesses?
Part 2 - Competitive Assessment
A. State / federal restructuring initiatives
B. Analysis of industry trends
C. Analysis of competitors
1) Who are our competitors?
2) What products and services do they provide?
3) Are the markets for these products growing or shrinking?
4) What prices do they charge?
5) What is their business strategy?
D. What do our competitors do better than us?
E. What do we do better than our competitors?
F. Opportunities - are there any unmet needs in our service area?
Part 3 – Determining Strategic Marketing Direction and Setting Goals
A. What business are you in?
1) Electric distribution service (WIRECO)?
2) Electric power sales (distribution service plus electric power sales)?
3) Energy (electric, propane, natural gas)?
4) Energy related products and services (load management equipment energy audits, power quality products, power reliability products)?
5) Other products and services (direct TV, home security, internet, telephone)?
B. Select strategic direction
1) Sell existing products to existing customers (retention)
2) Sell new products to existing customers (retention/lock-in)
3) Sell existing products to new customers (revenue enhancement)
4) Sell new products to new customers (revenue enhancement)
C. Writing a mission statement
D. Setting marketing goals and objectives
1) Methods for quantifying objectives
2) Setting timelines
Part 4 – Developing the Marketing Mix
A. Product and service planning
1) Are current product and service offerings consistent with your marketing goals and objectives? (product drops, product improvements)
2) What new product and service offerings would help in implementing your marketing goals and objectives? (product additions)
3) Customer service
B. Price planning
1) Revise existing rates
2) Unbundling rates
3) Create menus of pricing options
C. Distribution channel planning
1) The importance of location
2) Location / promotion interactions
3) How is the sales offer delivered to customer?
4) How is product delivered to customer?
D. Promotion planning
E. Product and service positioning
1) What are the customer benefits of each of the products and services that you offer or plan to offer?
2) What is the selling proposition for each of the products and services that you offer or plan to offer?
3) Why do customers buy your products and services?
E. Selecting market targets (macro targeting, which products and services targeted at which markets)
F. Identifying available marketing resources (tools for working with customers)
1) Product and service options
2) Pricing options
3) Contact management options
5) Marketing budget
6) Physical facilities
G. Setting priorities
1) Priorities for approaching customers (micro targeting)
2) Product and service introductions
3) Pricing option introductions
H. Establish timelines for implementing key elements of the strategic plan
Part 5 – Preparing and Implementing the Marketing Plan
A. Writing the Marketing Plan – Format for a comprehensive marketing plan
B. Marketing Plan Implementation and Execution
C. Developing Sales Plans
D. Evaluation and Follow Up