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Marketing Management Essay, Research Paper

"Marketing ideas have made singularly little penetration into

the centres of influence of the construction industry. To some extent this

follows from the character of the industry as an agglomeration of service

organisations, not without structural relationship to one another, but serving a

clientele from which individuals seek service very infrequently." (Jepson

& Nicholson, 1972: p.1) Although times have and are changing the above

statement despite being written over twenty five years ago is still to some

extent very true. The subject of this assignment is a construction firm that has

recently designed and implemented a marketing management strategy. The objective

of this assignment is fourfold, firstly the company?s approach to marketing

management will be documented this will then be related to marketing management

theory Then by analysing data collected through research the effectiveness of

the strategy will be discussed. Finally using marketing management theory as a

foundation recommendations will be made to identify where the initial strategy

could be improved in order to promote future business development and success,

in line with the strategic mission of the company. The organisation in question

has strong foundations, since it?s incorporation in the mid fifties turnover

has grown in line with inflation. In 1984 the Company was purchased by the son

of the original managing director, he took up the role of new managing director.

By the beginning of the 1990?s it became apparent that the company had reached

a stage where it was no longer a small "hands-on" enterprise. The

level of turnover and number of employees had increased at such a rate that the

organisation now employed a sizeable management team. All with an experienced

technical background in the fields of surveying, estimating or site management

and who had either progressed through the ranks of this firm or other

organisations of a similar size and nature. The company was at the time of the

initial implementation of this initiative inexperienced in marketing management

and strategy. However, the senior personnel realised the company had reached a

stage where future business growth wasn?t just going to come from hard work,

doing the job well and relying on a good reputation. The view was taken that it

was necessary to pursue new ventures to bring about growth and development. The

Company has a large contracting portfolio with contracts completed for public

and private clients in the commercial and industrial sectors. Appendix A shows

the diversification with the selection of recently completed projects and list

the clients for whom work has been carried out. The reason for a firm of this

size carrying out such a wide range of activities is largely based on the belief

that in such a competitive industry as construction it has been necessary to

take on whatever type of work was available in order to maintain a consistent

order book. In developing the company?s marketing management strategy numerous

workshops were held, attending these were the company directors and two senior

managers. Information on the company was gained from interviews with the persons

attending these workshops. There are many reasons for running a business, this

company wanted to be clear on why it wanted to improve or introduce the

marketing effort so that appropriate goals can be set. The aim of wanting to

grow the business by increasing sales while at the same time sustaining the

level of profit margin is the underlying factor in this case. Turnover could be

increased very easily as most of the work is procured on an invitation to tender

basis where the deciding factor is almost always price, however, "buying

in" work will not necessary have a long term positive effect. The secondary

objective was to secure profitable business relationships. These objectives are

reflected in the mission statement in the appendix B. The development of the

mission statement was the start of the company?s marketing management

initiative. The company?s overall objective in the eye?s of the leaders was

defined. It was thought the development of a mission statement would provide the

foundation needed. Perhaps the implementation of a mission statement doesn?t

have a direct link to the theory of marketing management however it?s place in

the overall field of strategy is illustrated below. "A firm?s mission is

top management?s view of what the organisation seeks to do and become over the

long term. Expressed in the form of a mission statement it provides a publicly

available summary of the long term goals of a firm?s top managers."

(Barney, 1997: p.10) After the preliminary stage it was decided that careful and

critical examination of the company would be needed. The questions of what do we

do well and what do we do badly ? were asked, however, analysis of "what we

do?" was first necessary. Previously there had been no formal

categorisation so the next step was to analyse the business in relation to

it?s markets. It became apparent that this was impossible without analysing

the different business activities and categorising the market areas. The

categories for such a division were decided upon as being type of client, sector

of work, type of work, type of contract and location of work. These divisions

produced provided the workshop team initially with the sufficient tools for

analysing the business. The areas highlighted under these headings are shown in

appendix C. This way of thinking doesn?t have a direct link to marketing

management theory but can be proved to be a form of market segmentation. For the

construction industry the application of marketing theory in order to segment

the market is not directly appropriate, but it can be applied in the way stated

to produce effective results as the common goal is the "identification of

target markets". Even though demographic, ethnic, religious and national

classification are not appropriate as regards construction, industry own

classifications appear to make data collection and analysis possible.

"Market segmentation is the analysis of the total demand in a market into

its constituent parts, so that different sets of consumers, with distinctive

needs and behavioural patterns, can be identified," (Page, 1995:p.40) It

would become apparent later that the market segmentation would be extremely

useful when analysing markets. At this moment the initial divisions would help

the effort of gathering information from various sources enabling critical

analysis of the company. "From the customer?s point of view, the

information process is the least visible of all the marketing functions. It is,

nevertheless, the basis of all marketing activity. If the product / service is

said to be the cornerstone of marketing, then it must be remembered that good

products / services accurately reflect the needs and wants of customers, which

can only be ascertained by gathering information. Information provides the means

for a company to fulfil the marketing concept," (Lancaster & Reynolds,

1995: p.57) Examination of the company began by using the personal experience of

the persons attending the workshop. In this forum, lists were made of things

that were likely to happen in the business environment which could have

beneficial or negative effects on the company?s fortunes. Subjects that were

concentrated on were, new technology such as Information Technology and the

latest building methods, the development of communication methods and any known

developments within local and general government. This type of analysis of the

macro environment could be perceived as a form of STEP or PEST analysis. From it

the company compiled a list, developed from the personal experience of the

workshop members, of all the external factors affecting the organisation.

Further factors relating to the proximate macro environment about markets and

competitors were also noted. These environmental factors are in a broader

context and are ones that the organisation has little or no control, however,

they could highlight the marketing opportunities and threats of the future.

"Successful companies recognise that the environment is constantly spinning

new opportunities and threats and understand the importance of continuously

monitoring and adapting to the changing environment." (Kotler, 1997 :p.147)

The next stage was the development of the organisation?s strengths weaknesses

opportunities and threats through a SWOT analysis. First came the opportunities

and threats using the results of the analysis of the external environmental

factors. Using a pragmatic approach all things on the horizon which could have a

negative effect on the business. Including not knowing key competitors well

enough, changes in government spending. It was found the most of the threats

were also opportunities and vice versa, depending on how a firm made predictions

and reacted to changes. From the list produced the top three items that: had an

extremely high probability of happening and a potentially high impact on the

business were identified. Following this the internal factors were considered,

highlighting the sectors that the panel believed they were good at (internal

strengths) and areas were they were lacking in some way and where there was

potential for dangerous situations (internal weaknesses). This type of SWOT

analysis gave the firm "the means by which to identify it?s own strengths

and weaknesses as they relate to external opportunities and threats."

(McDonald, 1995: p.28) Following SWOT analysis further investigation into the

business was required as the SWOT had only dealt with the personal views and

experience of senior personnel. The various business classifications brought

about following segmentation were analysed for the preceding five years. Factors

analysed were profit, turnover, levels of enquiries and level of competition. As

most of the work in the building industry is gained through tendering and

selective tendering the competition factor would be the average number of

companies tendering for a particular project. All agreed profit margin analysis

was particularly important as profit margin was fundamental to both survival and

future growth. Insufficient margins are unlikely to give the business the

freedom to choose the best strategic option because of the impact on break even

levels. From the data analysis the following conclusions were drawn, the

majority of the company?s turnover came from work on schools and colleges and

the industrial sector from the construction of warehouses and other similar

buildings. Over recent years there had been a swing, however, towards work in

the leisure industry. Industrial and commercial work had risen while public work

had remained constant as the overall turnover increased. As far as profitability

was concerned it was difficult to see any particular definite trend as to the

more and less profitable sector of work. As regards the other areas of analysis,

design and build work had increased steadily over the last couple of years and

had proved profitable but was also considered an area where the company lacked

experience. Repair and maintenance work accounted for a small percentage of

turnover but was highly profitable. Location analysis didn?t prove any

particular use apart from the fact that contracts carried out outside the north

west region were generally for existing clients. At this stage the company

didn?t have the set-up and was reluctant to venture further a field unless it

was to carry out work for valued clients. Following the analysis and information

gathering stage, the workshop team were in a situation where numerous internal

and external factors affecting the company?s ability to achieve profit and

sales had been identified. They were asking the question How do we reach our

goal using the results of the analysis undertaken? In order to make marketing

management decisions some kind of formal marketing planning would now be

required. "There can be little doubt that marketing planning is essential

when we consider the increasingly hostile and complex environment in which

companies operate" (McDonald, 1995: p.21) The team focused their attention

on the options for development. Stay offering our regular clients the same

services which would only be possible with the large clients that carryout

regular building work and profitability would need to be maximised by reducing

costs through increased efficiency. Provide a new type of service to existing

clients possibilities included offering regular repair and maintenance service

or offering the "complete service" from the initial design stage to

the finished product. The advantage would be that the company would be dealing

with clients where good stable relationship existed but the disadvantage was the

company?s unfamiliarity. Another option was to offer the "usual"

service to a wider range of clients, not necessarily meaning a different type of

client but to increase the marketing effort as regards selling the company or

perhaps by widening the geographic region. This type of strategy undertaken by

the company fits well with the theory of product / market expansion. Meaning the

route chosen to achieve company goals through the range of services it offers to

its chosen market segments. The simplification of the firm?s competitive

situation into only the two dimensions of products and markets. Despite not

actually using a framework such as Ansoff?s expansion matrix the group managed

to simplify their task to produce a logical path towards their objectives.

"Marketing objectives are about each of the four main categories of the

Ansoff matrix, market extension, product development, market penetration and

diversification." (Baker, 1993: p.85) During the planning stage it became

clear that two strategies were equally attractive. However, it would be

necessary to focus on one particular one very clearly for a given time because

resources are likely to be too limited to spread thinly. The plan of action was

to stay the same for six months to consolidate customers, to ensure

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