With the recent boom in the online education, new market segments are opening up providing the universities with a number of opportunities to expand their business into. In this regard, an untouched segment of this online education market is the MBA programs. This market plan is for the pursuing of an online MBA program at the University of Ashford. The university has been kept in mind in providing students the ease of education at their convenient. The University is further promoted with the ever increasing trend of online education.
The online MBA program will be promoted through phased out advertisements on TV, which is the most watched medium for the students, yahoo and online shops. Phasing out the communication process will make the message more cost effective. Moreover, it will help in eliminating any direct and indirect competition by many universities which have started this online education.
For the speedy process of the operation, the main office would be located in the at university headquarters in the closest area possible and on site. The unversity would be the facility to host the website whereas education will handled from.
Ashford University is an online is an institution of advanced education that offers online MBA programs. The Ashford University online MBA program presents widespread admittance to electronic and digital information resources, in addition to print. It has a divided male and feminine segment for the students. Ashford University visions to be knowledge cantered source for the whole the whole world. Its mission is to advance maximum excellence annals and data services and availability of information to the faculty, scholars and university employees.
The Ashford University includes more than a usual collection and presents widespread access digital information resources in addition to print. It consists of a male segment and additionally a detached female segment.
Being a multicultural university with a multicultural experience, they will admit students from all over the world to the class and school a variety of experience to enhance learning. This will bring to the Global MBA class a deeper insight into these business practices and bring into perspective certain practices not understood in class. In addition, this will also add variety to discussions in class besides broadening the business range at the same time.
Description of the Target Market
Online learning is now playing a significant role in the education sector. People with money are busy will find leaning online easier and convenient for them. Ashford University main aim is to respond quickly and deliver quality education to local and international students who are looking for higher education. The university introduces their new products and services by targeting all people with the ability to join a MBA programs to increase their working capacity. The education services that are offered by the university needs the students who undertaking MBA programs, being delivered by the best lecturers using the current modern technology innovations. The university is working in collaboration with other international institutions in marketing themselves as a one stop university for international students. They provide quality education in an efficient way to all students from English speaking countries. The specific target markets initially was London and environment however due to internationalization and globalization the university has evolved to include all students from other parts of the world with enough income to meet fee charged by the university.
- Segmentation identification: The University is established among the other universities.
- Segments needs: MBA programs will cater for the needs of those who have interest into the university.
- Segment trends: The current trends are shifting towards making the leaner more comfortable.
- Segment growth potential: Statistical reports foresee a segment growth of 3% over the next 10m years.
Being an online MBA program is only successful if Ashford University can satisfy the students that are being targeted. Understanding the basic MBA student’s needs such as need for quality education is very essential in determining the success of the world business (Davies, Bannock, Uncles and Trot, 2003).
While we are dealing with MBA program, the only problem is that the students cannot physically see the university in front. Thus, in order to make sure that the MBA program remains successful, the university would be entering into partnership with the major universities in order to make sure that there is a large variety of MBA program for the students. These MBA programs will be priced at market competitive prices, and will be delivered within instantly.
Usability refers to the quality of users’ interaction with a web site. It would be easier for the user to learn how to use the website. Usefulness of website refers to its capacity to process application much quicker, easier, and safer. Furthermore, usefulness refers to that capacity of website to trace the status of online business. On the other hand “Enjoyment” in website refers to certain harmony between the activity and experience of users. Enjoyment also refers to certain experience wherein the user has feeling of satisfaction and pleasure in using the website (Gitman and McDaniel, 2008).
Since it is an online university, the programs should be displayed at the website of the university. The people worldwide can view all of them along with their details with just a click of button rather than walking university. The layout of the website is a great competitive advantage as it will be the sole determining factor which will attract the people towards the MBA programs. Spaces in the website that are more visible will be charged premium prices. Moreover, since there are a huge MBA programs involved. In this way, the university can reduce its costs and charge the market prices, resulting in a significant profit margin (Halton, 1999).
The marketing manager has decided to use different price strategies in order to provide multiple and suitable options for customers. Depending on type of types of services required, all luxury accessories will be divided into three categories:
- Gold – contains the most expensive services; all assignment, accessing the university electronic university, accessing university master card and all attending all classes.
- Silver – contains the all services; all assignment, accessing the university electronic university, accessing university master card and all attending all classes but limited in using the master card.
- Bronze – contains the most expensive services; all assignment, accessing the university electronic university and all attending all classes.
Each category will have its own price. The objective of ‘three labels’ strategy is to simplify the service for the students.
Advertising and promotion deliver carefully prepared messages to the targeted audience, communicates with them and convey information the potential customers can use in making purchase decisions. MBA program as a new form of service needs to build its brand image, to increase the brand awareness among world populations and to stimulate the demand for service.
Advertising supported revenue model is an industry that makes the biggest profit. Through this model, the users can have access to online entrepreneurs and small publishers knowing it is the most appropriate for advertisers because it is the inexpensive way to reach out. This model has disadvantages such as when the users were asked to pay for something online which is hassle for most people especially if they have to send their credit card details. On the other hand, it has advantages knowing that advertising is the solid revenue model in online publications. It shows that even email providers serve up ads to compensate for their service (McDaniel and Gates, 1998).
To initiate and sustain its marketing strategies, the university should prepare a comprehensive marketing budget. The usual practice for existing universities is to peg their marketing budgets according to a percentage of their annual revenue. However, another study indicated that historically, marketing budgets accounted for five (5) percent of sales. In the absence of financial data, however, as in the case of university, it would be more prudent to itemize the costs of the tasks or units associated with implementing a specific strategy on an annual basis. As seen in Looking at Table, the marketing budget for the company is concentrated on three of the key marketing mix strategies of product development, distribution, and promotions. For product development, research and development (R&D) activities are assumed to cost roughly the estimated SGD$25,000 per year or a total of SGD$125,000 over a span of five years.
In terms of distribution and place strategies, the management of university would need to incur travel expenses associated in visiting the various countries in the region. Naturally, they would also spend on representation expenses and other miscellaneous costs. However, the main bulk of the distribution budget would go to the establishment of sales offices in the various countries the company aims to operate in. Hence, the estimated annual budget needed to implement the university’s distribution strategies is forecasted to amount to SGD$175,000 per year or a total of SGD$750,000 over a span of five years.
Of the marketing mix strategies, the promotions aspect requires the most budgetary requirement, amounting to an estimated SGD$310,000 per year or a sum of SGD$1,550,000 in five years. The promotions budget includes tri-media advertising, printing of brochures and catalogs, sponsorships, staging of events and product launchings, and participation in trade shows.
Overall, the total, estimated marketing budget for University amounts to SGD$2,550,000 in five years or an annual budget of SGD$510,000.
Table 7: Projected Five-Year Marketing Budget for University (in SGD$)
|Product Development||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
|Place or Distribution|
|Site evaluation and travels||10,000||10,000||10,000||10,000||10,000|
|Establishment of sales office||150,000||150,000||150,000||150,000||150,000|
|Brochures and catalogs||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000|
|Events and product launchings||100,000||100,000||100,000||100,000||100,000|
|Participation in trade shows||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000|
Summary and Implementation Plan (P)
Building customer relationship is intrinsic to success. Brand building starts with understanding the key attributes of services in relation to the requirement or needs of their customers. Just like many online companies, who were able to identify the needs of their clients and promote their company image through the internet, the university which will incorporate B2B, m-commerce and collaborative commerce, the internet will be a more than useful tool. As an online used offering MBA programs, the company will not only focus on internet-based programs, but will go a step further and introduce m-education, wherein, just about anybody who has Bluetooth features available on their mobile phones will also be able to retrieve or access any information which normally access from the net relating to the university. These hand held devices are easy to carry, and since they are not as expensive as laptops and desktop computers, using them as platforms to market the university would be most worthwhile.
Integrated Marketing is an important tool in the success and development of a brand, and Integrated Marketing Communication plays an important role in the stability and bridging of relationship between stakeholders, so essential for the success of an enterprise. Integrated Marketing Communication is used to create and persuade ideas that are far-reaching, explicit and effective in communicating with their targeted audience. The university invests time and money in designing campaigns and communication strategies based on market trend and analysis.
Integrated Marketing Communication practitioners develop a single, consistent message that is then distributed through multiple communication channels, such as advertising, public relations, direct marketing, and other sales promotion tools to improve their market awareness and access. With PDAs, iPods, and blogs becoming household names, marketers have started to use these mediums to message precise and conspicuous texts to attract their customer’s attention.
The latest software from SAP can deliver customer-specific information through their state-of-the-art, web-based user interfaces, which will enable the virtual organization to reach out to their customers with related information. This customer-specific information’s could include:
- Category management
- Multi-channel retailing
- Price management
- Price optimisation
- Sales order management
With the explosion of Information Technology, professional practices have seen the emergence of a variety of learning tools. It has so happened that in the past, universities and information system personnel have often introduced tools without a systematic study of the perceptions of students and other end users. Because of this, a huge sum of money is spent without considering its effectiveness.
The role of PDAs in MBA online program has significant advantages over standard practices and this is evident in the feedback from students and professionals who use these tools in their studies.
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McDaniel, C., & Gates, R. (1998). Marketing research essentials. Stockholm: Taylor & Francis.