The marketing planning revolves around three major concepts the swimming pool organization must consider: the segmentation criteria applied to the audience, the identification of the target market, or markets, and finally, the positioning of their products and services.
There are numerous criteria used to segment the market and identify those particular groups of individuals to which to address the service. The most relevant criteria include demographics, income or personal preferences and capabilities of the individuals in the segment (Brown, 2007). But the selection of the most relevant segmentation criteria must be made relative to the type of activity conducted by the organization. In this order of ideas, the segmentation criteria most relevant for the swimming pool company revolve around:
Financial capabilities of the customer - regardless of them being corporate or individual clients, they must all be able to pay the fees for the cleaning, repairing or remodelling of their pools. In this order of ideas, the individual potential customers must register above medium incomes and the corporate clients must have ended the previous year with profits
Then, the customers must be interested in swimming activities
Finally, the targeted audience must be formed from adults who have the capacity to decide and pay
However gender is commonly used as a segmentation criterion, in the present case it does not matter since both men and women can be responsible for the upkeeping of the pool at the workplace or can own their personal swimming pools at home.
Based on the nature of the activity conducted by the swimming pool company and the characteristics of the industry and market and also by keeping in mind the segmentation criteria forwarded in the previous section, the company will mainly address two target markets.
The first target market will be formed from individuals registering above medium incomes and who own their personal pools. The members of this target market are house owners, rather than flat owners, and tend to live in the suburbs of the large cities. The second target market will be formed from corporations who offer swimming services to their customers, such as hotels, health centers of spas.
However the close collaboration with the two target markets is vital for the future success of the swimming pool company, an important specification must be made. The market of individual customers is basically formed from old customers of the company's, who have been gathered along the years and will not be put aside in favour of corporate clients, even if the latter present more chances of future financial success and a better stability through the signing of long-term contracts for the cleaning and upkeeping of several pools owned by the organization.
Administrators of public swimming pools managed by the state or local authorities will also be addressed, but they do not represent a main target market.
The main idea in positioning a product or service is that of presenting it in the light of its core competencies, its sustainable competitive advantages and the benefits it will offer the customer (Ries and Trout, 2000). It is also based on presenting those features which make the service better than the similar ones promoted by the competition. Keeping this in mind, the services of cleaning, remodelling and repairing of the pools will be placed onto the market as according to the following characteristics:
The company has extensive previous expertise with working with swimming pools
The company numbers a wide array of satisfied customers
The company uses the latest and most environment-friendly technologies
The company employs highly specialized staff, committed to satisfying all needs forwarded by the customers
The organization will offer specialized and personalized solution based on the unique requirements of each client.
5. Objectives and Strategic Direction
Through the expansion of their business operations, the swimming pool company desires to achieve the following goals:
Increase their customer base with both individual as well as corporate clients
Increase the level of satisfaction and the quality of services offered to the customers
Improve their machines by purchasing and incorporating newer and better technologies
Increase their annual net income
The objectives promoted by the organization are SMART, in the meaning that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive (Acuff and Wood, 2004)
Specific - gain more customers, improve the technologies and register superior profits
Measurable - the organization will measure their achievement of the goals through intense internal control, the implementation of adequate strategies and by measuring how the implemented procedures have managed to retrieved the desired outcome
Achievable - the goals established by the organization are challenging in the meaning that they launch the company onto new territories, but are not impossible to meet
Realistic - the goals will be achieved within the specified amount of time and with the resources available, completed with outside resources where necessary
Time sensitive - the goals are set within an approximate time frame, such as end the first year of extended operations with a $50,000 profit after taxes.
In order to achieve these goals, the swimming pool company will have to implement a wide series of strategies regarding the quality of the management, choosing the most viable courses of action, motivating the employees, enlarging the customer palette and a large number of other strategies in regard to the service offered. The strategies related to the service will be further developed within the Marketing Mix section and clearly organized into the four types of decision that need to be made: product, place, promotion and price.
The human resource strategies are necessary to ensure that the staff increases their performances and sustains the organization in reaching its overall goal. To achieve this desiderate, the swimming pool company will offer a wide array of incentives to their personnel, including increased wages, benefits, flexible schedules, more free days or any other type of personalized incentive. Furthermore, the management must support and encourage constant communications with the employees and try to align their individual goals with the overall goal of the organization (Mathis and Jackson, 2005).
6. Marketing Mix
The marketing mix encompasses all decision and consequent strategies that will be implemented in regard to product, price, place and promotion. Product decisions refer to features such as brand, functionality, quality or safety. Price decisions generally refer to the pricing strategy to be implemented and any promotional prices offered to customers. Promotion decisions refer to choosing the appropriate communication channels used to present the service to the population as well as the advertising strategies and campaigns. Place decisions revolve around the distribution channels used and any other logistics decisions that must be made to support the business operations (Net MBA, 2002-2007).
Aside from the already existent pool cleaning services, the company will also offer repairing and remodelling services to both individual as well as corporate clients
The services will be offered under the company's brand name
The stated functionality of the service is to help customers have a better and cleaner pool
The safety of the services is offered by the usage of the latest technologies and the increased usage of environment friendly procedures, such as ozone instead of chlorine
The services offered will meet superior quality standards and this will be assured by the good reputation of the company
The services will be offered at the place required by the customer, namely at the actual location of the swimming pool
The company will be reached by the interested customers via telephone or email and also at the company's headquarters
The organization will conduct the operations from its administrative headquarters, where it will also keep the necessary machineries and tools used in the process of cleaning, repairing and remodelling of the swimming pools
For starters, the organization will implement a penetration price strategy, meaning that they will offer their service at extremely low prices in order to ensure a successful penetration of the market and gain the interest of customers (Riezebos, 2003)
Then, the swimming pool company will implement a variable pricing strategy, which will be established based on the costs of offering the service; any change in these costs will be reflected in the retail price to the final customer
In establishing their retail price, the organization will also consider the prices implemented by the competition, trying to lower them the company will also offer promotional pricing, but this will be discussed in the Promotions section
The swimming pool company will offer promotional prices to its first customers consisting in major price reductions
They will also implement promotional strategies such as three for the price of two, meaning that if a customer pays the organization to clean the pool twice, they will clean the third time for free