U Pack It We Move It is a small startup logistics company that is about to start its operations. The company has a fleet of trucks that will be used to a wide range of products for its clients from one location to another in a safe way and within the shortest period possible. It seeks to expand its market share rapidly within the first five years of operation through the delivery of quality products. However, environmental analysis shows that the firm will have to overcome market challenges such as stiff competition, disruptive market trends, and unpredictable market forces. Developing and effectively implementing the right marketing strategies will help it achieve its objectives.
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U Pack It We Move It is a startup trucking company that provides a wide range of logistical solutions to specific customers. The company plans to offer local less than truckload moving services and full truckload local and delivery services of up to 4 hours for a one-day haul. In case a client would like drivers to pick up and deliver further than 4 hours, they are subjected to 2-day rates as a way of protecting the company’s profits. The business model primarily targeted business-to-business (B2B) operations because this company will provide trucks and movers to the organizational customer to ensure their property is safely moved for their ease and comfort. The management of the company seeks to partner with colleges, military bases, or apartment complexes to offer them a wide range of transport services that they may need. In this paper, the primary goal is to create a marketing plan for this startup company.
The Marketing Environment
The ability of this company to achieve success in the market depends on the management’s capability to understand the marketing environment. Competitive forces of the market define how this firm operates in the market. The logistics industry in North America, especially in the United States and Canada, is highly competitive. Some of the dominant players in this industry include XPO Logistics Inc, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, DHL Supply Chain, and C.H. Robinson Worldwide. The market also has other small players that this new company will have to compete against.
Economic forces should also be considered when developing a marketing plan. According to Hanlon (2019), understanding economic trends within a country helps in determining which products are needed in the market, how to price them, and specific segments of the market that should be targeted. The United States and Canada, just like the rest of the world, have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed the economy. Targeting organizational clients may be the appropriate strategy during such a period. The management of this company should also be keen on understanding the impact of the political class on its operations. As Lidstone and MacLennan (2017) observe, politicians in the United States often avoid interfering with private business entities as long as they observe the laws and regulations of the country.
Legal and regulatory forces are also crucial when developing a marketing plan. The management of the company needs to understand laws and regulations guiding the industry. The country has strict laws meant to protect customers and ensure that logistics companies do not engage in illegal trade. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Fair Credit Billing Act are some of the laws that this company must strictly observe (Ozuem & Azemi, 2018). It is also important for the firm to ensure that its drivers do not engage in the transportation of illegal products such as drugs or human trafficking.
Technological forces directly influence the operations of this company. As Kolb (2016) observes, successful firms are always keen on understanding and embracing emerging technologies to improve communication, management of data, and overall operational activities. This startup company should be keen on embracing these emerging technologies. Schlegelmilch (2016) also advises that a company should not ignore socio-cultural forces. Some customers may prefer privacy when moving their products from one location to another. As long as it is not against the law, such requests should be granted.
U Pack It We Move It is a new company, and the management must define in clear terms the markets it seeks to target as it will help in product positioning. In this B2B model, the company primarily targets organizational customers. The firm will provide logistical solutions to local organizations such as military bases, colleges, apartment complexes, and any other such institutions. The targeted market will enable this company to achieve the desired level of growth within a relatively short period because of the huge potential.
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Current Marketing Objectives and Performance
The management should define marketing objectives and performance goals that will guide the operations of the firm in the market. Setting these goals helps in ensuring that every activity is tied to a specific target that should be realized within a given period. It also helps in ensuring that resources are not wasted on projects that lack the capacity to facilitate growth. The following are the objectives that will guide the operations of this firm in its first 5 years of operations:
- To acquire at least 10% of the market share in the local logistics industry within the first 5 years of operation.
- To merge with or acquire some of the local market rivals as a way of expanding the market share and reducing the level of competition.
- To build a team of highly skilled and dedicated workers capable of meeting the interests of customers.
U Pack It We Move It seeks to achieve specific goals in the market as discussed in the section above. However, its management must understand how its operations will be influenced by internal forces (strengths and weaknesses) and the external environment (opportunities and threats). SWOT analysis will help in understanding these forces.
The main strength of U Pack It We Move It is its flexibility. Giovannoni (2020) argues that small firms tend to be more flexible, and as such, they have the capacity to adjust to various market forces that may influence their operations. The firm’s new brand may be weak, but it is not tainted in any way, which makes it easy for the management to strengthen it through various strategies. Its team of dedicated workers is also another advantage.
The biggest weakness of this company is its limited experience in the market. As a startup company, it is yet to build strategic alliances with various companies that can facilitate its rapid growth. The brand of this new firm is also weak, making it difficult to attract some of the major customers in the market.
The market presents opportunities that the firm should embrace. The emerging technologies can help it revolutionize its information management system. It will be easier to communicate with potential customers. The growing number of local companies also increases opportunities for growth. The close economic corporation between the United States and Canada also makes it easy for this firm to expand its operations beyond national borders.
Competition is the biggest threat that the company has to confront. XPO Logistics Inc, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, DHL Supply Chain, and C.H. Robinson Worldwide are some of the dominant players in this industry. Disruptive technologies may also affect the normal operations of the firm (McDonald & Wilson, 2016). The management should also be keen on managing emerging trends in the industry.
Matching Strengths to Opportunities, Converting Weaknesses and Threats
To achieve success in the market, it will be important for the management of U Pack It We Move It to understand how it can use its strengths to take maximum advantage of opportunities while managing weaknesses and market threats. The SWOT matrix in table 1 below shows how that can be realized.
Table 1: SWOT Matrix
|U Pack It We Move It||Strengths-O ||Weaknesses- W |
|Opportunities-O ||SO: The company should use its strengths to maximize opportunities (attacking strategy).||WO: U Pack It We Move It should counter its weaknesses through effective exploitation of opportunities (building strength for effective attacking strategy)|
|Threats-T ||ST: The firm will need to leverage its strength to minimize threats (defensive strategy)||WT: The firm will have to simultaneously counter threats and weaknesses (building strength for effective defensive strategy)|
The management of U Pack It We Move It has to set specific marketing objectives that will guide its operations. According to Chernev (2018), when setting such objectives, factors that should be considered include resources at the disposal of the company, activities of rival organizations, trends and practices in the industry, and other similar marketing goals. Once these goals are set, the management will work closely with all the employees to ensure that they are realized within the stipulated period. The following marketing objectives will guide this firm’s operation.
- To strengthen the brand of this company through effective promotional campaigns using both mass and social media
- To develop a working relationship with local organizational customers.
- To have effective internal and external communication systems using emerging technologies.
The company will need effective marketing strategies that will enable it to achieve its marketing objectives. The strategies that it implements should reflect the market forces that it faces and the firm’s core competencies. In this section of the marketing plan, the focus of the marketing strategies will be on target markets and the marketing mix.
U Pack It We Move It will have three primary target markets when it starts its operations. The initial market research had revealed that these target markets offer opportunities that the firm can use to achieve growth. The management may consider introducing more markets at a later date depending on the progress that the firm makes. These targets include:
Target market 1: Colleges are one of the most important target markets for the company. This firm will offer a wide range of logistics solutions such as moving food products, furniture, delicate computer hardware, various electronic products, and any other items that these institutions may want to be moved from one geographic location to another.
Target market 2: Military bases will be another potential market that the firm will target. These military installations often need regular logistics services to facilitate the movement of various materials such as foodstuff, cooking materials, military uniforms, and training equipment. The firm will work closely with relevant military officers to provide security when moving some of the sensitive military items.
Target market 3: Apartment complexes will be the third target market for U Pack It We Move It. These complexes may need transport services to facilitate the movement of furniture and construction materials. They may also need this company to transport delicate gym equipment, security systems, communication systems, and many other portable items.
When developing a marketing plan, one of the areas that should be given appropriate focus is in explaining the marketing mix elements and how they will meet the expectations of customers. The first element is the product that the company is offering to the market. In this case, U Pack It We Move It offers transport solutions to organizational customers using its large fleet of trucks. As a startup company, it will price its products slightly below the market average to attract more customers (Hanlon, 2019). The management will ensure that such a move does not attract price wars in the market.
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Distribution is an important element of the marketing mix. As Esakki (2017) observes, it is essential for the management to ensure that products are made accessible to the targeted customers. U Pack It We Move It will have its trucks packed close to the premises of its regular customers to ensure that whenever they are needed, it will take just a few minutes for the trucks to be available to these companies. Promotion is another factor that the startup will not ignore. Using both mass and social media platforms, the management will strive to strengthen the brand of the company and promote its products in the market.
When a plan has been developed, the next phase is to implement it to achieve the desired goals. Chaffey and Smith (2017) believe that the implementation of a plan is as important as the process of developing it. Activities must be conducted based on the set plan and using resources assigned to them. This section focuses on how the plan will be implemented in this company when it starts operations.
U Pack It We Move It will be organized in terms of the type of customers that it will be targeting. As mentioned above, the firm will primarily target three groups of customers: (1) colleges, (2), military bases, and (3) apartment complexes. To achieve the goals set above the firm will ensure that it has three units within the marketing department for each of the three categories. Each unit must understand the unique needs of its customers and how they can meet their needs (Giovannoni, 2020). The logistical needs of military bases are significantly different from that of colleges. Creating the three units will ensure that employees specialize in offering unique services to their respective departments. The decision-making authority will rest with the marketing director, as shown in the figure below.
Activities, Responsibilities, and Timetable for Completion
The management of the company must identify specific activities that should be conducted, individuals responsible for various actions, and a timeline within which actions have to be completed. U Pack It We Move It is already registered, so the activities that have to be conducted include recruitment and training of employees, assigning workers to any of the identified three units, locating potential customers, promoting the brand and products of the company, and setting timeline within which activities have to be completed. Table 2 below summarizes the proposed timeline of the various activities that needs to be conducted. It is important to note that activities such as identifying targeted customers and promoting the brand and products of the firm will be continuous once they are started. Recruitment and training of workers may be done once or twice a year depending on the demand, but at the moment, it is estimated that by the end of June, the firm should have a team of capable workers in its marketing unit.
Table 2: Proposed Timeline of Marketing Activities
|Activity/Time||May 15-June 30||Jul 2-Jul 10||May 15-Cont.||July 15-Cont.||August 1-|
|Recruit and train employees|
|Assign workers to specific departments|
|Identify targeted customers|
|Promote brand and products|
The top management unit of U Pack It We Move It will need to conduct a regular performance evaluation to determine if the resources of the firm are used effectively towards achieving the set marketing objectives. Performance evaluation helps in identifying possible areas of weakness that may need adjustment to enhance levels of success.
Performance Standards and Financial Controls
The marketing director of the company, as the head of this department, should develop specific performance standards and financial controls that will guide marketing activities once the company starts operations. One of the best ways of developing performance standards is to assign time and resources to a specific activity. For instance, the cost of moving a specific volume of products within a given distance should be set. The time for such an activity should also be set. The performance will be assessed based on these parameters. Each of the three marketing units should have about 30% of the total budget for the marketing unit, with the remaining 10% meant for assessment of the progress and other emergencies controlled by the marketing director. Expenses of each department should be audited to determine if there is a value generated from each of the activities.
Measuring Actual Performance
Once the parameters for performance standards have been set, the next important step is to measure the actual performance. The marketing director will assess the performance of each of the three units to determine if they are using the budgeted resources to undertake specific assignments within a given period. The actual performance will also involve contacting customers to determine if they are satisfied with the services offered to them (Giovannoni, 2020). Any issues raised by customers should be addressed to their satisfaction.
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