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Sample Marketing Plan For A Hypothetical Online Business: College Whiz’s Marketing Plan
A marketing plan contains details of the goals of a company, an analysis of the market environment and situation, and most importantly, the marketing strategies to be implemented to achieve the said goals. This marketing plan is made for an online-based college prep service called College Whiz.
This document contains the marketing plan for College Whiz. College Whiz is an online college preparation service catering primarily to high school students who want to be better equipped for the college application process.
Students nowadays are under a lot of stress and pressure to perform well in their academics and, subsequently, get into a reputable college or university (James, 2015). High schools do their best to equip students with the knowledge and skills that will get them accepted into ivy league schools or 4-year colleges. They also offer guidance for the college application process. However, these efforts often fall short, either due to the lack of manpower to support the large number of students enrolled in an average high school or due to insufficient funding. Parents and students are well aware of the inadequacies of high schools in comparison with the expectations of college admissions offices, which is why they are seeking additional support (Kurlaender, Reed, & Hutt, 2019).
College Whiz is an online company based in Los Angeles that aims to provide the support that will ultimately bring high school students to the doors of their chosen school. The company operates purely online—through a website and a mobile application. The company was founded as a response to the youth’s increased use of technology in their studies. An online-based college preparation program would also be significantly more convenient for students while also affording sufficient personalization to maximize students’ learning.
College Whiz primarily offers tutorial services and guidance for students who want to get into college. The products are tutorial videos that target specific skills and knowledge, which will be accompanied by activities or exercises that will test and further refine their skills. The other service involves counseling and tutorial sessions with experts or tutors. A counseling session will be offered to all users upon signing up where they will discuss their goals and study plan with a tutor. Follow-up counseling sessions are offered to higher-tier subscriptions where the student can get hands-on help throughout the application process, such as choosing the right school for them . Tutorial services are also offered where the tutors share one-on-one feedback with the student based on their performance in the exercises or activities.
College Whiz is aware of the increased stress that high school students are under, and the intense competition to get into prestigious schools (Kurlaender, Reed, & Hurtt, 2019). The company was established to ease the stress and pressure and make the college application process more manageable for high school students and their parents. The goal of College Whiz is, ultimately, to empower students to take charge of their future.
The major values of the company include excellence, integrity, innovation, and compassion. The company aims to create a positive culture surrounding learning and make college applications less stressful.
The paper uses the following analytical tools to understand the internal and external environment of the company—SWOT Analysis, PESTLE analysis, and market segmentation. These frameworks will provide a clear picture of the environment in which the company will operate, and thus, inform its market strategy.
SWOT analysis analyzes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by College Whiz (Namugenyi, Nimmagadda, & Reiners, 2019). A table summarizing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats follows the succeeding discussion.
College Whiz specifically caters to the needs of the younger generations who are technologically savvy. They have no issue availing services online and are always looking for convenient services. Thus, the company’s unique selling proposition is true strength in this context. Furthermore, online college prep tutorial is not a service widely available at the moment, so students who have recognized a need for convenient college prep tutorials will most likely find College Whiz.
Since College Whiz offers its services through a website and an app, it is convenient for students. Students may access the site or app anywhere or on any device, and they can resume their studies whenever convenient for them. Another strength of the company is that its videos and activities are designed by experts so it is sure to enhance the students’ skills. High-quality materials are further complemented by knowledgeable and experienced tutors who will guide students. These will make sure that College Whiz does not only help students have the right skills but that they also make the right decisions concerning their education.
Although College Whiz is not concerned with its target customers’ ability to use technology, one weakness that may hinder students from availing of the services is their parents’ potential mistrust of companies that operate solely online, especially of a newly established company. Parents may hesitate as they are unsure of the quality of the services and they may fear becoming victims of financial fraud. These are all valid concerns that the company must allay in the design of the website and app, as well as in the marketing campaign.
Since the company is not yet established, it is under pressure to produce excellent results. However, although the company is equipped with experts and high-quality materials, its results ultimately rest upon the commitment of the students. Students who may not regularly use the services or take their time to learn the modules may not be as successful as those who do, and both negative and positive results will reflect on the company’s reputation. Thus, the company must find a way to encourage students to use the app regularly and keep them engaged.
This weakness may be confounded by potential scheduling issues between tutors and students. The company should also be able to hire enough qualified tutors to support the number of students needing guidance. This is another weakness since it could significantly affect the quality of services offered by the company and the experience of the students.
Although College Whiz’s services are relatively new, there are a lot of opportunities it can harness to become a well-known and trusted company (Namugenyi, Nimmagadda, & Reiners, 2019). The first opportunity is the fact the service is unique and has not been widely executed. Thus, there is not much competition against other online services.
Another opportunity is that the target demographics are already technologically savvy and have likely been taking virtual or online classes in the past year. The current generation of high school students grew up exposed to technology, so it is easy for them to learn new applications. Thus, the company should not experience drawbacks or resistance from the target demographic as long as the user interface is seamless and user-friendly.
College Whiz may also take advantage of the reach of influencers on Tiktok, Instagram, and Youtube since many younger generations trust their recommendations. This opportunity may offset the initial lack of trust in a new entrant like College Whiz. This opportunity comes in conjunction with a general increase in trust and reliance on technology and online services after the year-long lockdowns due to COVID-19. These may make it easier for both high school students and parents to try the services.
The strong public trust in established college prep academies may be a hindrance to College Whiz. More parents may be more comfortable availing of services they have tried in the past, making these established academies a formidable threat despite College Whiz’s unique selling proposition. Another threat is the existence of free test prep apps from established tutorial companies that traditionally offer offline services.
The succeeding PESTLE analysis considers the political, economic, social, technological, and legal factors that may positively or negatively affect the company’s operations.
There are currently no regulations on tutorial services for after-school studies. However, this is a factor that the company must constantly be aware of any developments in the policies and tariffs regarding after-school studies on both local and national levels. The company is less affected by political factors concerning the government and is more directly affected by politics in the education system. Thus, any regulations or accreditation requirements passed by local education boards and universities have a more substantial impact on the operations of the company.
The state of the economy will directly affect families’ expenditures on education. An unfavorable turn of the economy could lead to a recession, which may negatively affect college applications and, most certainly, whether families will avail of after-school tutorial services to supplement students’ basic education. Generally, lower levels of disposable income will likely result in lower revenues for the company.
In 2015, 19.9 million students enrolled in college and the number has been steady until 2020 and 2021 (NCES). The National Center for Education Statistics estimates a slight increase in college enrollment rates in the next 5 to 6 years (NCES). This sets a positive outlook for the company. With that said, changes in the per capita income and attitudes toward education may greatly alter these prospects for the company in the near future.
Attitudes toward the college application process and the need for after-school tutorial services will also affect the company. Should the general public’s attitude toward the application process change, educational institutions may be forced to change the process and requirements, which may render the services unnecessary. Likewise, if the target demographics’ attitude toward after-school tutorial services becomes negative, fewer students may avail of the services.
The company operates solely online so it is heavily reliant on technology. Users will not be able to access the site and app during server downtime. Likewise, the quality of Internet infrastructures throughout the country affects the services since students and tutors need the Internet to access the platform and connect with each other. Thus, any discrepancy in the Internet connection will disrupt the operations.
Innovations in technology will have a positive impact on the company as these will allow the company to improve its services. With that said, the company will have to consider the accessibility of new technology and the users’ familiarity with it to truly maximize the impact.
The company has to consider various laws that may affect its operations. Specifically, it should be careful with data protection laws, especially those concerning minors. The company should take measures to ensure that minors’ information is not exposed to third parties. The company should also take extra measures to ensure that all tutors are properly qualified to avoid predators on the platform.
Moreover, the company must protect the parents or students from potential fraud or phishing by installing or partnering with secure payment channels and securing the website. The company must also follow employment laws for tutors and other staff in the backend of the platform. Likewise, the company should stay alert to any changes in the laws related to these factors and immediately make the necessary changes to company policies and practices to ensure full compliance at all times.
Since the services are online, the company is affected by any effect the weather has on the Internet infrastructures. Natural disasters in the server’s location may cause server downtime, during which users cannot access the site. Likewise, natural disasters in the user’s location may prevent them from fully using the site or app.
After rigorous market research, the company has arrived at a conclusion regarding the segment of the market it will target. College Whiz will target two segments—high students and parents with children in high school.
High school students, regardless of their year level, will be part of the target market since preparations for college applications nowadays start as early as sophomore year. High school students throughout the United States, from any type of school, will be targeted. In addition to these details, high school students who are academically conscientious will be targeted since they are most likely to be inclined to seek additional classes and guidance regarding their college applications. These students are also most likely high achievers who will aim for schools with extreme competition, therefore requiring them to exert additional effort to stand out from thousands of other applicants.
Parents will also be targeted. However, the focus will be on parents of high school students. Their children’s academic performance may not be a necessary consideration since all parents want to increase their children’s chances of being accepted into a reputable college or university.
Marketing Goals And Business Objectives
Upon launching the website and mobile app, College Whiz shall also commence its marketing campaign. As a newly launched company, the goals focus on raising awareness on the services offered by the company, encouraging students and parents to recognize the need for guidance and additional classes for college applications, and ultimately, urging them to try the services.
More specifically, the company aims for a 10% increase in site and mobile searches and visits, and 50,000 new users to sign up within the first six months after the launch. The marketing campaign shall focus on acquiring customers, not tutors as the recruitment process will occur before the launch of the site. The team believes that these goals are achievable with the right marketing strategy.
College Whiz is a new company that is also launching a new type of service that does not yet exist. The services offered are widely available offline, but it has not been available online. Tutorial services are available online, but these focus on academic performance and not on the college application process. Thus, the company is in an advantageous position as a pioneer in providing such a solution. Consequently, the company is the one that will set the public’s first impression on this type of service, so it is under pressure to perform well. Once other companies offer similar services, the company is also at an advantage as a pioneer in the industry. It will be a trusted entity compared to new entrants. These, however, are projections. Thus, the company must focus its strategies on raising awareness first and gaining the trust of its target demographics.
The company will employ a mix of online and offline strategies to reach both high school students and their parents. As a new entrant in the market, the company’s primary goal is to raise brand awareness. However, the ultimate goal is to get students to try the services.
College Whiz provides two products and one service: tutorial videos and activities or exercises, and counseling or tutorial. Upon joining, students are asked about their college goals and then matched with a tutor who will assess their needs and then recommend a study plan, which will include a list of videos and activities they will take over a period. The tutor and the student will also come up with a plan for the student’s college applications. This should include requirements and deadlines which will be supplemented with meetings with their tutor.
The service will be paid as a monthly subscription. The company will offer the subscription in tiers, with limits on the types of services they can avail of at every price point. See below:
$20 / month
$25 / month
$35 / month
Pricing will be consistent throughout the year, however, discounts will be offered during the summer season to encourage more students to avail themselves of the service when they have free time. An additional discount will be provided to students who are on scholarship programs in their respective schools as well. College Whiz’s pricing model is based on similar websites offering help to students.
The company will not be operating in a specific physical location. However, its work will be limited to the US. Promotions will be available both offline and online, with an emphasis on online promotions. College Whiz shall coordinate with key schools in major cities and ask to be allowed to put up a kiosk during school events to spread awareness of the company. As the company expands its reach, this endeavor shall include schools in towns as well.
Online, College Whiz shall be found on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. Its presence shall be supplemented by content created by influencers. For the latter, Tiktok will be included in the company’s repertoire. Finally, the company’s main location is its website.
The company’s main promotional activities include creating informational and educational content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. The company will be producing its content raising awareness about its services and values, as well as creating content geared toward providing tips for college applications, such as how to write a great college admission essay , with calls-to-action at the end encouraging the audiences to sign up. These will be supplemented by blog posts on the company’s website. For these efforts, the company will utilize SEO strategies to increase its credibility and visibility in search engines.
Furthermore, College Whiz will partner with content creators focused on education or study tips to introduce the services to a wide range of audiences. Affiliate marketing will come with promotional discounts of up to 5% to encourage more students to try the services. Furthermore, the company will offer a free 1-month trial for the first three months after the launch, which will be announced through all channels.
The main product strategy is to offer premium services that are also customized to the client’s needs. As mentioned earlier, services include counseling and tutorial sessions and access to video tutorials and activities or exercises. The company must maintain the premium quality of its services by continuously improving video tutorials and activities, maintaining and improving the site and app, as well as through regular training of the tutors. The responsibility to maintain high-quality services also rests upon the shoulders of the tutors who will be providing personalized assistance to students. A secondary strategy is customer service, which involves hiring a competent team of agents to assist clients and troubleshoot issues.
College Whiz’s goal is to keep the prices competitive without appearing cheap. This will be achieved through tiered prices, which keep premium services in the higher tiers while still keeping some of the services accessible. Other pricing strategies are limited and seasonal discounts and promotions, which will be used to attract new clients. The limited free trial period, in particular, is set up to encourage clients who are still hesitant to give the service a try. The pricing strategy will be evaluated yearly to ensure that pricing, as well as compensation for all members of the team, remains competitive.
College Whiz will be present on all relevant online platforms, regularly producing content and engaging with clients to build strong relationships. In addition, College Whiz will build relationships with educational communities and set up kiosks where students, teachers, and parents can inquire or sign up for the app or site. The strategy is to be visible in as many areas as possible that the target segments—high school students and their parents—frequent.
To promote the services of the company, it will maintain a strong online presence. The website should publish informational and educational content that will establish the company as an authority. The company’s social media strategy will focus on maintaining an approachable persona that students and parents can turn to for useful tips and information. A team will be formed to focus on digital content and SEO while another team will be assigned to create content and regularly update the company’s social media accounts. Lastly, another team will be in charge of managing affiliate marketing and paid search marketing.
College Whiz will evaluate these marketing strategies on a monthly basis while also keeping in mind that certain marketing efforts do not immediately show results. Digital marketing and SEO efforts will thus be monitored regularly but will be expected to show results after 1 year or so. In contrast, affiliate marketing and paid search marketing will be expected to show results within 3 to 6 months (LeadTree, 2019). The performance will be measured based on clicks or visits to the website, app downloads, and ultimately, sign-ups.
College Whiz offers a new type of online service that caters to the needs of high school students. The company offers guidance and additional classes to improve the student’s skills, and consequently, improve their chances of getting into the college or university of their choice. Since the company is new and is offering a new type of product, it needs to have a strong marketing strategy. Although the company will operate online, the company has elected to employ both online and offline marketing strategies to maximize audience reach. Kiosks in schools will be used as the primary offline marketing strategy while content and SEO marketing will be combined with affiliate marketing and paid search marketing for online strategies. These are all aimed to increase brand awareness and encourage students to sign up and avail of the company’s services.
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James, C. (2015, August 11). NYU study examines top high school students’ stress and coping mechanisms . NYU News Release. https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2015/august/nyu-study-examines-top-high-school-students-stress-and-coping-mechanisms.html
Kurlaender, M., Reed, S., & Hurtt, A. (2019, August). Improving college readiness: A research summary and implications for practice. Policy Analysis for California Education . https://edpolicyinca.org/sites/default/files/R_Kurlaender_Aug19.pdf
LeadTree Global. (2019, December 3). Pros and cons of using affiliate marketers . Medium. https://medium.com/@leadtreeglobal/pros-and-cons-of-using-affiliate-marketers-451e6664bd23
Namugenyi, C., Nimmagadda, S.L., & Reiners, T. (2019). Design of a SWOT analysis model and its evaluation in diverse digital business ecosystem contexts. Procedia Computer Science , 159(2019), 1145-1154.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status, sex of student, and control of institution: Selected years, 1947 through 2029 [Data set]. Digest of Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d20/tables/dt20_303.10.asp