Marketing Plans

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Marketing is a deliberate and orderly step-by-step process that begins with people (markets) and ends with programs, products, services, and strategies. Note that this is the opposite of how many programs, products, and services are often developed - starting with a program, product, or service, and then looking for constituents and customers to use them; the proverbial "product in search of a market." The marketing process assists natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations in making the right decisions because it takes them through a series of smaller decisions and information gathering processes that assist in reaching larger decisions. By following a marketing approach, the "what to do" part (strategies, programs, products, and services) "fall out" of the process. Solutions do not have to be pulled out of thin air. A marketing approach takes out the guesswork. A marketing approach leads to the most effective decisions and the development of the most appropriate programs, products, and services.
Within the context of natural resource management, marketing is the deliberate and orderly step-by-step process of first defining what it is - exactly - that is to be achieved; understanding and defining different groups of constituents (markets) through research; and then tailoring programs, products, and services to meet those needs through the manipulation of the marketing mix - product, price, place, and promotion. The purpose of marketing in a natural resource or outdoor recreation organization is to both better meet the goals of the organization and to better meet the needs of its constituents to provide them with quality programs, products, and services.
Marketing Process
Successful marketing begins with the development of a quality marketing plan. A marketing plan spells out the goals, strategies, and tactics that will be used in reaching the natural resource or outdoor recreation organization's objectives. The marketing process follows the standard format for good planning. It asks:
  1. Where are we now? (This is a situation assessment)
  2. Where do we want to be? (This means developing precise objectives)
  3. How will we get there? (Marketing strategies) and
  4. Did we get there? (Evaluation)
Situation Assessment (Where are we now?)
A situation assessment has the organization take a careful look at where it is now. The elements of the situation assessment include:
Mission Statement
Every natural resource and outdoor recreation organization should have a mission statement. Mission statements let people know why the organization exists and what it is trying to achieve. Everything that follows in the marketing plan is based directly on the mission statement of the organization.
Goals define the management philosophies within which objectives are pursued. Goals are broad and lofty statements about the desired program outcome. For example, the goal of a natural resource or outdoor recreation organization might be to "Increase the number of newly recruited anglers nationwide." Committing goals to paper becomes more important as one gets further into the marketing plan.
Business Identification
What exactly is one's business? A business should be defined based on a market need and not on a product that serves that need. For example, people choose to listen to music. This desire is a market need. A product, such as a record or a CD, is the result of how that market need is filled. Previously, record companies that focused solely on how to make a better record were immediately outcompeted by companies that developed CDs. Today, CDs are being replaced by downloaded music files from services such as iTunes. Again, there is an important distinction to make between the product used to deliver the music (e.g., record, CD, downloaded music file) and the market need itself (e.g., the need to listen to music). Phillip Kotler observed, "Products are transient but basic market needs endure." When thinking strategically, focus on market needs not on products.
Identify Publics
There is no such thing as the general public. Research indicates that people's relation to natural resource and outdoor recreation issues is affected by a variety of factors - their age, race, gender, income, level of education, and other variables. A list of one's publics is important in identifying one's place in a particular market.
Choose Publics
A commonly heard phrase in marketing is that "You can't be all things to all people." Marketing means making choices, and making choices means deciding specifically which groups will be targeted. Different markets require different strategies. It is alright to choose more than one market to target, but it is important to keep in mind each group may require different strategies.
Current Conditions
This trend-identification portion of the marketing process allows an organization to become proactive rather than reactive. Current conditions can be assessed by stating opportunities and threats - an organization's strengths and weaknesses.
Marketing Objectives (Where do we want to be?)
Once a natural resource or outdoor recreation organization identifies where it is, the next step is to decide where it wants to be. Objectives are directed toward the accomplishment of goals and are specific and measurable statements of what, when, and how much will be achieved. Many programs and initiatives fail from the start because objectives are not agreed upon and written down by those involved. Overall, taking the time to complete a situation assessment is extremely valuable. After all, if an organization does not know where it is or where it wants to be, how will it get there?
Marketing Strategy (How will we get there?)
At this point, the marketing plan has identified where the organization is and where it wants to be. The "marketing strategy" section of the marketing plan identifies how it will get there.
Market Segmentation
First, the market should be segmented; this section of the marketing plan identifies the specific market segment(s). Who are they exactly? There is no such thing as a general public. Additionally, what are the demographics of the market segment? What do they want and what do they need? What are their attitudes and opinions about the product, program, or service? Social science and market research is the key to better understanding these markets. There are numerous ways to better understand these markets, including focus group research and quantitative opinion and attitude surveys.
Marketing Mix
Once a market has been identified, a program, product, or service is tailored to the specific market. Marketing mix - product, price, place, and promotion - is the set of controllable variables that are used to tailor the program, product, or service to the target market.
Product is the most important element in this mix. A product or service is what the natural resource or outdoor recreation organization offers the market - from wildlife viewing opportunities to information on coastal resources, national/state parks or camping sites. It is important to recognize that an organization has many product lines. It is also important to differentiate between a product's features and a product's benefits. A feature is the makeup of the product or service; a benefit is what the constituent or customer receives. Focus on the benefits of the product, not the features; "sell the sizzle, not the steak." For most people, the drill is not as important as the hole it makes. Identify the most important benefits the product has for the market and communicate those benefits.
Price is another variable in the marketing mix. Price issues can have profound effects on natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations. Price can be manipulated in a variety of ways; the most obvious is the actual cost. What does the product cost? Does it cost the same to fish on a lake or stream during the week as on the weekend? Does it cost the same to buy a pass to a busy park and visit once or twice a year as it does to visit one hundred or more times a year? Price is an excellent way to tailor the overall product to a market to achieve an organization's objective.
Place refers to the physical location where the product or service is offered. Are park passes sold only at the park location? Does this affect demand and sales? Are birdwatching areas located near large urban centers or are they located in sparsely settled areas? What about public meetings? Are they located in areas that are easy to access? Identify where the product is located (or promoted or "sold") and ask if it meets the needs of the target market.
The promotion mix includes magazines, newspapers, brochures, direct contacts, and television coverage. Promotion options are nearly limitless, and it is vital to keep in mind the target market. At this point in the marketing process, the market - who they are, what they want, and their opinions, attitudes and values - have been identified. A product, program, or service has been developed and tailored that precisely fits that market's needs. The benefits of the product, program, or service have been identified. Because of this, the medium most likely to reach the target market can be selected effectively.
When developing promotional materials, natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations should keep in mind the difference between the tools of promotion and the goals of promotion. Just because an agency has developed full-color advertisements, radio ads, or a Web site does not automatically mean it has increased knowledge levels, changed attitudes, or increased participation. Real success should be measured in quantified attitude changes, total sales, increased awareness, and knowledge levels of and real increases in fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing participation or other outdoor recreation activities. Success should be measured in the public's actually adopting water conservation measures, in better fisheries management, or participation in no-trace camping. The objective is not to develop advertisements or brochures, but to foster awareness, change attitudes, or increase factual knowledge of natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities. Again, it is important to separate the means and the ends of programs, products, and services.
Responsive Management Experience
Responsive Management has extensive experience in the use of quantitative and qualitative research to develop marketing plans for natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations and has been conducting marketing workshops for natural resource and outdoor recreation organizations for 18 years. Responsive Management has conducted almost 1,000 quantitative and qualitative projects over the past 18 years on natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. Clients include the federal natural resource and land management agencies, most state fish and wildlife agencies, state departments of natural resources, environmental protection agencies, state park agencies, tourism boards, as well as most of the major conservation and sportsmen's organizations. Many of the nation's top universities use Responsive Management for data collection because they recognize the quality of Responsive Management's data services. Because Responsive Management specializes in researching only natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, our senior research staff and research associates conduct research only on these topics and understand the nuances involved in conducting such research.

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RM Conducts:
Telephone Surveys
Mail Surveys
Focus Groups
Personal Interviews
Park/Outdoor Recreation Intercepts
Web-Based Surveys
Needs Assessments
Programmatic Evaluations
Literature Reviews
Data Collection for Universities and Researchers
RM Develops:
Marketing Plans
Communications Plans
Business Plans
Policy Analysis
Public Relations Plans

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