Marketing Management

The chosen industry is education. While it is true that schools, colleges, universities and coaching centres have halted operations during the lockdowns implemented due to CoViD-19, these institutions can still thrive by adopting the right marketing strategies. These times are surely difficult and demanding. Nonetheless, the education sector can still bounce back provided they adopt the right approach and take appropriate steps in the right direction with diligence. Viner, et al. (2020) have mentioned that there is an absence of data about the contribution of school closures to control of transmissions amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. There was no such data available when earlier Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) pandemics had broken out. They have also pointed out that recent modelling studies predict that halting the operations of educational institutions would only prevent 2-4% of deaths only, which is much less than what can be prevented by other social distancing practices. Crawford, et al. (2020) have highlighted that there has been nil to considerable responses to the coronavirus outbreak from higher education providers. While some institutions have failed to formulate a strategy to deal with the situation, others have planned on implementing social isolation and distancing on campus and still some others have committed to rapidly redesigning and redeveloping their curricula so that they can offer their courses online. Charumilind, et al. (2020) have estimated that in developed nations, normalcy will be restored or herd immunity will be achieved by the third or fourth quarter of 2021, and that for lesser developed nations later. The education systems around the world cannot remain halted in this timeframe. It will lead to a lot of wastage of the time and efforts of students and can adversely impact their career plans. While some countries have reopened schools for children to attend classes with proper social distancing measures, other countries have not. The marketing strategies which can ensure that people continue investing in education and take admissions in schools and colleges are as follows. Educational institutions should lower their fees if it is unaffordable to the masses. They can reduce the student intake in their various programs and courses so that batches have limited size and proper social distancing can be followed. They should ensure that campuses are sanitised daily as well as have sanitisation and clinical facilities for the students, teachers and staff. They should establish an understanding with nearby clinics or hospitals to admit their students in case any emergency arises. Most importantly, in the case that conditions to reopen schools and colleges are not favourable and the government also does not allow the same, they should develop a wholistic digital infrastructure to teach their students online, again keeping the fees as less as possible. The institutional management would have to carve out redefined curricula for its students which is suited to digital learning platforms. The government’s role in this would be to set up computer labs for all educational institutions, increasing digital literacy among students, teachers and staff and if necessary, distributing laptops and digital devices on a large scale to these groups to promote digital learning.

Kevin Roberts (2013) has highlighted the importance of bringing a feeling of love into business practices and businesses catering to the masses. He says that love has immense power and can transform the way we perceive life and the world. Love brings people together. He says that humans live in a ‘VUCA’ world- a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. He says that it is rather a ‘SuperVUCA’ world. This might be close to the truth because there are millions, if not billions of people in the world, who see businesses and capitalists as the biggest social evils of all times, whose sole aims are to take advantage of people’s desires to earn and have a good plentiful life, to exploit them to one’s benefit and then eventually push them into darkness and nothingness. Such ideas are carried by a great chunk of the human civilisation as so by Roberts himself. He says that the world should rather be ‘VUCA’ in the sense that it is Vibrant, where people can have great fun and enjoy these modern times together; Unreal, where only a single revolutionary idea has the power to change the world overnight; Crazy, where people who have the guts to live on the edge will bring about progress, and Astounding, where the power of human will is unmatched. These are precisely the ideas behind Roberts’ concept of Lovemarks. One would certainly like this concept as it seeks for businesses to build absolutely novel and constructively beautiful relationships with their customers. The idea of Lovemarks is that customers should be absolutely in love with businesses for the businesses care for their emotions and connect deeply with them. Lovemarks promotes and advocates a relationship of mutual love and respect between customers and businesses.

Ray Burke (2014) emphasises on the practice of salespeople to observe shoppers and analyse consumer behaviour. He says this practice is important for any business because they can distinguish between people who spend lavishly on products and services, people who buy just a few items and those who do not buy at all and prefer to shop from other discount stores. By observing people who walk into the stores, the salespeople can quickly gauge who has come in intending to buy and who has just come for browsing the shop. The advantages of observing shoppers in their natural environment are that the salespeople gain a lot of control and flexibility in carrying out their jobs, they can enhance and increase their customers’ experience and satisfaction as well as increase business performance. Since it is established that the study of consumer behaviour is highly essential for businesses today, taking a quick look at the tools and technologies which study this behaviour would be a good idea. The most common way to do this is for the salespersons to simply watch or observe the shoppers as they go about browsing, checking and picking up items in the store. They can interact with these customers to gain better insights into how much they are willing to spend and which would be the best items to show them. Further, Burke talks about shopping experience simulation tools, building fixtures and checkout lanes in the stores, using eye-tracking technology with the help of CCTV cameras and using virtual reality and 3D imaging simulations to recreate the appearance of the stores, as some tools and methods by which consumer behaviour can be gauged. Through the study of consumer behaviour using appropriate tools and technologies, businesses can anticipate the current and future needs and desires of the shoppers and optimise the “shop-ability” of their stores.

Target market refers to a specific pool of customers towards which a product or service is aimed. Kenton (2020) defines a target market as a class of prospective clients whom a company is aiming to sell their products and/or services to. The marketing efforts and strategies of a company are directed towards this target market. The target market is a portion of the entire market of a good or service. The people within a target market have some common attributes like age, gender, location, purchasing power and interests among others. The marketing plan of a company is incomplete without the identification of a target market. Incomplete or no knowledge of the target market could waste a lot of time, money and other resources of the company. The target market for ‘Amazing Thai’ is diverse and is spread all over the world. Children around the world love to eat noodles. They, therefore, represent the maximum population of the target market of ‘Amazing Thai’. The second group ‘Amazing Thai’ is focussing at is single and young working professionals who live away from their homes and families because of work. Most of the times, they do not have a partner or a cook to cook food for them and have to depend on tiffin services or restaurants for their meals. ‘Amazing Thai’ would be a great quick fix for this section of the society as it is easy on the pockets, can be cooked easily and instantly and is a lip-smacking substitute to restaurants. Finally, the third target market for ‘Amazing Thai’ is the micro-vendors in both the developed and the developing nations who feed millions of people by the roadside at cheap prices. They can purchase ‘Amazing Thai’ packets in bulk, cook them for their customers and sell them for a little margin.

Alex Berman (2017) has pointed out that Inditex came into being in 1985 as the parent company of Zara and its manufacturing units. Inditex and Zara then took over many other fashion labels which followed Zara’s format, like Pull and Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius. Zara now has more than 6000 stores across the world. The initial business model of Zara was to create copies of fashion clothes of other high-end brands and sell them at cheaper rates. As Zara opened more and more stores throughout Spain, one of the owners- Mr Ortega- came up with the idea of instant fashion, which means that Zara would be on the go to adopt the latest fashion trends and styles in the market, manufacture clothes along the same lines and put them for display in their shelves as soon and instantly as possible. This helped Zara take over the fashion, rather fast fashion, instant fashion or quick fashion industry in no time and gained a competitive edge amongst its competitors. Social media also helped Zara’s business grow tremendously in recent decades. People can see the actual pieces of clothing from Zara online on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and others. So, they have made up their minds what all to buy before they even visit the stores or Zara’s website. Zara has also gained a competitive edge over its rivals by instantly putting out new collections which reflect the ones being shown in the major fashion shows. Zara does this incredibly fast. This can be imagined by the fact that Zara goes from sketching an idea of displaying the final product on its shelves within a matter of just three to four weeks! Other brands take almost six months on average for the same task! Zara has created a sense of urgency in the minds of its customers as its key product strategy. Some fashion lines of Zara can stand in the stores for just a few days only to be gone forever because Zara does not usually put older designs back on its shelves.

The step in the selling process that is being carried out in this example is prospecting or prospect research. This is research about the prospect or the client-to-be. Gothelf (2013) has remarked that researching one’s prospective client is as essential as getting the sales itself. A salesperson should already be an expert in the knowledge about her/his prospective clients before calling them or reaching out to them regarding a sales proposal. This research is as important a step in the sales cycle as any other. An unprepared salesperson would never know what she/he herself/himself is talking about and they would never be able to procure a meeting or get a reverting call. Jeff Ragovin, Chief Strategy Officer at Salesforce Marketing Cloud has aptly said, “Create a solution for your prospects, don’t just push product.”. Research is important because it helps the salespeople or the salesperson to understand the target market of the prospect themselves. It also helps make the salesperson sure that what they are trying to sell is in line with what the prospect is wishing to buy. Researching about the client or prospecting beforehand ensures that there is no mismatch between the offer and the expectation. Plaksij (2020) has mentioned that prospecting is considered the most difficult part of the sales process, but the sales pipeline remains full of leads because of this process. If prospecting is done correctly, the result is higher conversion and closing rates. Prospecting is the process which kickstarts the whole sales cycle and is responsible for determining whether or not any deals are going to be closed. There is simple math to it. The more prospects a salesperson can zero in on, the more are her/his chances of cracking a sales deal because all prospects have equal chances of conversion.

References for School Closure and Management Practices

Berman, A. 2017. How Zara took over the industry using fast fashion. [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8_gmYNCQ1g [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Burke, R. 2014. How stores track your shopping behavior | Ray Burke | TEDxIndianapolis. [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeQ7C4JLpug [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Charumilind, S., Craven, M., Lamb, J., Sabow, A. and Wilson, M. 2020. When will the CoViD-19 pandemic end? [Online]. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/when-will-the-covid-19-pandemic-end# [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Crawford, J., Butler-Henderson, K., Rudolph, J., Malkawi, B., Glowatz, M., Burton, R., Magni, P. and Lam, S. 2020. COVID-19: 20 countries' higher education intra-period digital pedagogy responses. Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching3(1), pp.1-20. DOI: 10.37074/jalt.2020.3.1.7.

Gothelf, A. 2013. How to research a prospect before that big sales call. [Online]. Available at: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/08/sales-researching-prospects.html#:~:text=Before%20the%20call%2C%20research%20the,possible%20before%20the%20big%20meeting. [ Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Kenton, W. 2020. Target market. [Online]. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/target-market.asp [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Plaskji, Z. Prospecting: 10 proven strategies for sales professionals. [Online]. Available at: https://www.superoffice.com/blog/prospecting/ [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Roberts, K. 2013. Lovemarks: Kevin Roberts at TEDxNavigli. [Online]. Available at: http://redrose.consulting/speeches/the-power-of-love/ [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Roberts, K. n.d. Future beyond brands. [Online]. Available at: http://www.saatchikevin.com/lovemarks/future-beyond-brands/ [Accessed on September 25, 2020].

Viner, R.M., Russell, S.J., Croker, H., Packer, J., Ward, J., Stansfield, C., Mytton, O., Bonell, C. and Booy, R. 2020. School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health4(5), pp. 397-404. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642 (20)30095-X

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