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Marketing TermPaper

Question

Marketing Assessment & Plan Project
• The ideal company would be between 50 and 5,000
employees.
• Gather data about how that company currently markets their product or service. This may include, but is not limited to interview questions of the senior marketing officer regarding the marketing scope, strategy, budget, and level of
response needed for that company to assess the success of its marketing programs.
• Students are required to do a SWOT analysis and make recommendations based on the findings and personal
knowledge of the organization.

Key results of the marketing assessment include:
-Structure of marketing organization within the company including names and titles
-The annual budget of all forms of marketing for the firm by marketing media (i.e. print, internet,
radio, etc)
-Who is the audience for the marketing (please be specific)
-How does the firm measure the success of marketing programs? Sales? Market share? Customer satisfaction? Please provide examples.
-Is the marketing budget growing or shrinking over the last three years?
-Define any key strategies of the marketing programs to date?
-Three key recommendations /observations of the marketing program at that firm up to this date.

The Proposed Marketing Plan:
Once you have discovered the current situation and resources your company uses to market its product or service you are going to take it to the next level. You will no go from a researcher to a marketing director and will build the next steps in enhancing the current marketing program for your selected company. This involves taking risks, I know there is no perfect solution so please try not to be too ambitious or intimidated. Simply put, what else could this company do and why? The “why” is the most important part of this step.

Expected deliverable:
-Suggested format: Introduction, company profile, target market, competitors, key products, key competitive advantages, SWOT analysis, current marketing mix, marketing budget, marketing media, and results. The marketing plan is a detailed set of adjustments and supporting strategies as to where you see the marketing strategies of this company going in the next five years.
-The paper should be fifteen pages in length. Double-spaced, 12 point type,
professional font selection.
-Data: I am seeking company data, external market (competitors), country or demographic data that you select to support your findings.

Answer

Title: Marketing assessment and plan project: Research in Motion (RIM)

Student’s Name:

Name of Course:

Institutional Affiliation:

Date Submitted:

Contents

Introduction. 2

Executive summary. 2

Company profile. 3

Target market. 4

Competitors. 7

Key products. 8

Key competitive advantages. 10

SWOT analysis. 11

Strengths. 11

Weaknesses. 12

Opportunities. 12

Threats. 13

Current marketing mix. 13

Steps to enhance the current Marketing program.. 16

Introduction

Executive summary

This research paper focuses on the marketing plan of Research In Motion (RIM), the Toronto-based company that designs, manufactures, and sells the Smartphone brand known as BlackBerry. The research paper contains information on the company’s profile, target market, competitors, key products, key competitive strategies, SWOT analysis, current marketing mix, and marketing budget. The paper ends by building on RIM’s circumstances in order to make suggestions on how the company’s current marketing program can be enhanced.

Company profile

Research In Motion (RIM) is a software company that focuses on voice and data transmission that was founded in 1984. The Toronto-based company, which was established during the 1990s, has grown into a formidable force in today’s technological business. RIM has made a name for itself through consistently bringing into the market award-winning products, as well as bringing about new technologies that are unique to the corporation.

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RIM designs manufacture and market wireless solutions for the global mobile communications market. Through the design and development of integrated software, hardware and services supporting multiple standards for wireless networks, RIM offers solutions and platforms for seamless access to various information, including phone, email, internet, short message service (SMS), intranet-based applications.

RIM technology also makes it possible for third-party manufacturers and developers to greatly enhance their products with wireless connectivity to data solutions. Rim’s product portfolio and embedded technologies is relied on by organizations across the world. Some of these products include software development tools and BlackBerry Wireless Solutions. The company’s offices are in North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe.

            The most notable RIM’s product is the BlackBerry, which has established itself into the everyday lifestyles of buyers from over 140 countries. Blackberry has already proven itself to be both a product and a brand. Although this product has maintained its reputation and brand, competitors have started improving on their own brands, and their advances pose a serious threat to RIM’s Blackberry.

During the fiscal year that ended in February 2010, RIM introduced several devices, including BlackBerry Storm2 9520, BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Curve 8520, BlackBerry Tour, BlackBerry Device Software 5.0, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 5.0. These products provide capabilities to both information technology professionals and end-users. These products introduced more than 75 carrier as well as distribution channels relationships, which brought to life connectivity for about 550 carriers and distribution channels that are operational in 175 countries. The company also announced BES Express, a product that offers basic BES features for free to Microsoft Exchange users.

The primary revenue stream for RIM is generated through the BlackBerry wireless solution. This solution encompasses the sale of various BlackBerry wireless devices, services, and software. The wireless solution can offer users a convenient wireless extension of their personal and work email accounts, including IBM Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, Novell GroupWise, and numerous internet service provider email services.

The wireless solution also facilitates the use of various data functions, including address book, calendar, task and memo lists, and many other functions that are associated with personal organizers. Through the BlackBerry Mobile Data System, users can access data from the Internet and enterprise applications securely. Moreover, through the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System, organizations find it easy to integrate BlackBerry Smartphones and office desk phones.

Target market

RIM presented Blackberry as a strictly professional and business product since the beginning. Additionally, its target market was limited by maintaining a static business image. As a counter-measure, many companies are releasing entertainment-based technology, the most notable one being Apple’s iPhone. As a result of the demand for less business-oriented mobile devices, RIM’s main challenge is to harmonize the product that it already has with many demands of many buyers who are interested in leisure.

Since its formation, RIM has tended to rely heavily on its various carriers in promoting the company’s products. RIM does not own any carrier, and no carrier provides BlackBerry as its only product. Every carrier sells many phones and brands, a situation that leaves Blackberry on a similar platform like all other companies. RIM was named by Fortune Magazine as the fastest-growing company globally. Additionally, according to a 2010 report by the British Broadcasting Corporation, the company’s profits have increased by 84% while revenues have grown by 77% within the last three years. Despite this astounding success, however, RIM is faced with significant challenges, the greatest of them being the maintenance of dominance in an increasingly crowded market.

Although RIM holds an excellent position in today’s business market, competition in this realm continues to increase rapidly. iPhone may outclass the Blackberry sooner than RIM top executives think. RIM also faces the problem of a small market share within the consumer market. Today, Rim only boasts of only 20% of the entire market share within the US, while Apple has more than doubled this share, by holding 50% of the smart mobile devices market, thereby making it the principal competitor of RIM. Apart from Apple, the other manufacturers who are competing for the same market share include Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Palm, and Samsung.

On the basis of behavioral segmentation technique, the target market for today’s portable communication devices can easily be separated into two main types of users, namely business professionals, and the consumer market. Research indicates that RIM is well positioned for the business professional market but things are completely different when it comes to the consumer market. The tasks that RIM faces are two-fold: maintaining a strong position within the business market while increasing its control in the consumer market.

As a brand, BlackBerry is widely recognized and valued in the market. For RIM, the best customers are enterprise users. RIM does not appear to be in a position to freeze the entire market through product pre-announcements, the way the company used to do a few years ago. These days, the company tries to ensure that people in the market forget about impending releases until the products finally show up in retail outlets.

In terms of technology, RIM faces a number of challenges of the company’s own making. For this reason, the company has had to take renewed initiatives of redefining the exact bounds of its portable communications market. One of the problems involves making customers buy new headsets whenever they need to get the latest operating system of BlackBerry. In attempts to resolve this problem, the aim has been to appease these buyers by providing them with headsets.

As a pioneer in Smartphone technology, RIM faces the challenge of giving direction on how the existing hardware problems in these gadgets can be solved. The developer issues will greatly determine the extent to which RIM will maintain a position of value and a great reputation among both its existing and target market.

RIM’s blackberry is also designed in such a way that those who seek reliable internet services can access them conveniently. The BlackBerry Internet Service facilitates the integration of 10 supported email accounts within the same BlackBerry. Through both BlackBerry Internet Service and BlackBerry Enterprise Server, internet browsing and full phone functionality become a reality.

BlackBerry Smartphones are also designed to handle a wide range of multimedia capabilities. The BlackBerry wireless solution comes through a combination of wireless networks of RIM’s various carriers and Network Operations Center. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server is a highly specialized software that forms a centralized link between various BlackBerry Smartphones, business applications, enterprise systems, and wireless networks.

Competitors

RIM’s main competitor is Apple’s iPhone. However, despite the incredible success that has become of the iPhone story, RIM continues to maintain a dominant positional in the fast-growing smartphone business. Over the past decade alone, RIM has managed to sell 65 million phones to its subscribers, who now stand at 28.5 million. The company’s market capitalization now stands at $42 billion, up from $96 million.

In the US Smartphone market, RIM has a 56% share in a market that is worth $12 billion. The market share continues to accelerate in this market. In fact, recent research shows that the US’s bestselling Smartphone is the BlackBerry Curve and not the iPhone, as many people may like to think.

Thanks to a television ad campaign that was launched in 2008 targeting the mass audience, many people now know the BlackBerry to be not just the business tool it was once considered, but a consumer product as well. Consequently, in the last quarter of 2008, 80% of the company’s new subscribers were drawn from the non-business crowd.

The best news for both Apple and Rim is that overall, the SmartPhone market continues to grow at the fastest rate ever. In 2008 alone, 1.19 billion phones were sold, 13% (155 million) of which, were Smartphones. However, competition continues to become stiffer, with new entrants such as Dell rushing into this market. Moreover, a revitalized Palm appears to be aiming at the iPhone, with its Sprint network, which is soon expected to be on Verizon.

Google has also been dedicating huge resources on the Android operating system for its Smartphone. Google hopes to curve a portion out of the enterprise market that is currently dominated by RIM. Motorolla, for instance, is also expected to debut two devices that run on Android later in 2010. Many Smartphone market analysts foresee a situation where more Smartphone launches are going to be witnesses late in 2010 and early in 2011. Whereas Blackberry is currently making inroads with the consumer segment, the iPhone is winning over business users.

As the Smartphone market continues to expand, the consumers’ expectations are changing. Mobile phone users increasingly want access to the internet more than they need to make calls. They are gravitating towards the use of Tweets instead of long emails. They also want applications for playing games, playing games and balancing the checkbook. Currently, Apple has an App store that boasts of 65,000 application choices. These applications range from the most practical to the most absurd applications. In sharp contrast, the newest BlackBerry app store, which debuted in April 2010, contains only 2000 applications.

Although RIM is a leader in directing the mobile phone industry towards email, it remains a follower in the competition towards building a dominant environment for use of software in handled computing. In this regard, it is going to be extremely tough for the company to compete. The company’s co-CEOs seem to be confident about the company’s prospects for explosives, although they both like dodging questions about Apple.

Key products

Since its inception, RIM has produced many products for handling email. The first products were in the form of two-way pager models that had thumb keyboards for scrolling a monochrome text display. Then they were followed by the monochrome Java-based models, the 5000 and 6000 series. These models later paved way for the first color models, the 7000 series, followed by the SureType models, the 7100 models. Today, the shift is heading towards consumer models, the 8000-9000 series.

The transition from one type of device to the other has been necessitated by clients’ demands, market realities and changing technology. However, the main point of focus has always been emailing functionality and software support solutions. The first model, for instance, which was known as the Inter@ctive Pager, made of a two-way wireless messaging service. They offered both email and WAP services, and their limited HTML was provided through third-party software.

The monochrome Java-based models, on the other hand, constituted the first BlackBerry models to contain a built-in mobile phone. They natively run Java and data was transmitted through the normal 2G cellular network. The products were advertised as email-enabled mobile phones and instead of two-way pagers. The market focus, in this case, was the business category and not the consumer market.

Today, with the need to enter into the consumer market, the company is producing many consumer-oriented products, while at the same time integrating consumer-related features into its business models. The first models to be aggressively marketed to consumers are the SureType variety models, which were without the discrete QWERTY keyboard. Their keyboards come in Candybar form. The SureType format, though, comes with a QWERTY-like format, whereby two keys are used per button. Through the use of two letters for each button, rather than the traditional 3 letters per button as in the T9 ten-digit keypads, predictive text accuracy has been dramatically improved.

RIM also continues to manufacture the QWERTY models, thus offering the market the freedom to choose between the traditional QWERTY keyboard and the highly compressed SureType keyboard. In the march towards the future, the BlackBerry’s are speculated to do away with their classic solid-state touchpads, such as the ones found in 8520, 9100, Bold 9700, and 9650.

The Curve 9300 (3G model) that was announced in August 9 has a 320×240 resolution screen, OS 6.0 and a trackpad. The BlackBerry 9670 has a 360×480 screen, a trackpad, O.S 6.0 and a QWERTY keypad. The highly speculated bar-layout complete with a full keyboard that resembles Palm Pixi’s style is yet to be announced. However, RIM has already announced the latest BlackBerry Torch 9800, which features a slider keyboard and an updated operating system that is geared towards competitiveness with the increasingly popular Android and iPhone Smartphones.

Key competitive advantages

RIM is well-positioned to maintain leadership in the Smartphone market. The company is expected to continue possessing sustainable advantages through its powerful, intuitive, ‘Crackberry’ data and messaging experiences, battery life, reliability, and its software and hardware solutions.

Culture remains a critical ingredient in RIM’s manufacturing strategy. RIM’s competitive advantage with regard to its manufacturing culture has been characterized by continued emphasis on entrepreneurial spirit and technical expertise. Today, RIM has reinforced its identity by maintaining its core research and development as well as manufacturing centers in Canada. Pooling human resources in the home base is a great morale-booster for the company. It is also an excellent way of facilitating communication between manufacturing, research, and other groups.

For RIM, the culture-related competitive advantage has been the main cause of speeding up of product development. The collaborative aspects of maintaining R&D aspects at home and within the same location are regarded by employees as essential for the specification, testing, and modification of products accurately and quickly.

The competitive advantage that relates to research and development has in recent times been receiving a boost because of advertising and increased budgeting on R&D-related activities. For instance, during the fiscal year ending February 28, 2009, RIM reported expenditures amounting to $685 million on Research and development alone, while $1.5 billion went to selling, marketing, and administration.

On the basis of these statistics, RIM’s marketing planners are using to dealing with huge budgets, unlike most of the company’s competitors. By the end of the current financial year, it is highly anticipated that the cost of the ongoing marketing strategy will reach $20 million, whereby, half of the figure will have gone to promotion while the other half will end up in research and development. With such a level of expenditure, the company is assured of continued growth as well as marching, or even surpassing, the 2009’s reported operating income of $2.7 billion.

SWOT analysis

Strengths

  1. RIM is the largest wireless design company in the world.
  2. It is a credible organization, and the BlackBerry product line is highly valued.
  3. The QWERTY keyboard of the company’s BlackBerry is an appealing Smartphone feature. The other feature-related strengths include the SurePress and SureType feature, and the Blackberry messenger.
  4. The company boasts of customer loyalty.
  5. There is brand dominance in the market.
  6. Some of the products’ features are patented, and the services are award-winning
  7. There is a diverse product line of the phones that RIM manufactures
  8. Technology is advanced and the innovative strategies used have positioned RIM as an industry leader and pioneer.
  9. Partnerships with many service providers across the world. The company partners with 300 network providers in 120 countries.
  10. The company designs, manufactures and markets all its products, which are widely used all over the world.

Weaknesses

  1. The limited product line in that the company only deals in phones.
  2. Limited market share in the consumer market.
  3. The technology used remains too complex for many potential users.
  4. The company has far fewer applications than its main competitor, Apple.
  5. The prices are prohibitive for some consumers.
  6. There is a service gap that is based on the product’s high expectations and persistent failure to meet all these expectations.
  7. The company’s growth is declining; it appears to be entering the maturing/ declining stage.
  8. Recently, the company’s stock has not been performing well recently ($69.45 on October 19, 2010, and $92.41 on September 23, 2010.

Opportunities

  1. There is room for exponential growth in the accessories and applications market.
  2. There is also room for growth in many new markets, particularly the consumer market.
  3. There are opportunities for co-branding, just like it be the case with Apple’s co-branding venture with Oracle.
  4. The current business trends are shaping up towards demand for wireless Smartphones.
  5. There is a huge potential for the tech-savvy young generation to enter into the smartphone bandwagon.

Threats

  1. The current economic downturn hinders growth in the market.
  2. The market is becoming relatively saturated.
  3. There are many frequent cases of patent infringement.
  4. The technological changes taking place today are highly fast-paced.
  5. Products are highly reliant on external service providers, meaning that there is a high element of uncertainty.
  6. Competition continues to become fiercer by the day with new companies entering the Smartphone business.

Current marketing mix

            In terms of product, RIM has revolutionized today’s mobile communication devices using the Blackberry Smartphone. The idea has been to enhance the depth of the product through the addition of a new Blackberry into the existing product line. The focus is currently on the creation of a multi-media device that satisfies the consumers’ needs better. Through the enhancement of the features of the Smartphone and ultimately overhauling BlackBerry’s design, the product is poised to attract many consumers and continue dominating the market share.

With regard to price, the price point for Blackberry is being set by the pricing strategies of competitors. For all those customers who have the need for satellite service, there will be a need to predetermine an additional charge. The pricing strategy has been a tricky issue, particularly during times when multiple products are being released, such as during the fall of 2008. During the fall of 2008, major platforms were being launched within 90 days of one another, all of which had a critical role to play in RIM’s 2008 and 2009 calendar years.

The pricing mechanisms that the company uses are always geared towards making buyers feel the Blackberry difference in terms of the packaging and the value that they get for their money.

In terms of place, different product lines are aimed at slightly varying market ends in terms of prioritization. For instance, with the BlackBerry Sky, the main distribution channel is the North American carriers, retail outlets, as well as the BlackBerry promotional website. The product is also being marketed through global service carriers.

Elsewhere, the BlackBerry Thunder is being positioned with the reality of the dramatically evolving Smartphone market in mind. Geographically, the BlackBerry Thunder is poised to be an excellent performer in Asia and Europe. This is the main reason why most marketing emphasis is being directed to these places. In sharp contrast, productivity Smartphone models continue to experience the greatest success within the North American market in comparison to all other developed regions.

The geographical positioning of marketing strategies is being driven largely by the prevailing trend, whereby multimedia expectations seem to be blurring, as does functionality among different market segments. This is because the mobile professional continues to search for consumer-centric features such as media players and cameras. On the other hand, RIM is keen to target consumers who are keen to increase access to data communication capabilities, such as mobile IM, email, and internet applications that are adapted to all their mobile needs.

In terms of promotion, RIM plans to continue communicating the benefits of BlackBerry to consumers through carefully tailored ad campaigns, viral marketing, internet marketing, exclusive offers, and social media channels. The exclusive offers are currently being targeted to both the current and new customers.

RIM focuses on sales force automation solutions, field service solutions, and business intelligence solutions as the flagship marketing ideals. In sales force automation solutions, the focus is on how business professionals can have wireless access to virtually unlimited customer data as well as use it to their own competitive advantage. The strongest point in this promotion strategy is the ability to update this information from any place, anytime. This facilitates the ease of identifying new opportunities and closing deals faster than ever before. On this basis, the company presents a host of products that make this possible.

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In terms of field service solutions, RIM focuses on the benefits of BlackBerry for purposes of on-the-spot billing, access to credit card information transfer services, inventory look-ups, and highly improved scheduled updates. The field service applications are promoted as tools that facilitate the task of keeping up with the increasing client demands. The main advantage highlighted is the reduction of cycle times, and customer service issues are resolved quickly. Moreover, there is an improvement in the way inventory management decisions are made.

For business intelligence solutions, attention has lately been on the high mobility of today’s business decision-makers in their quest to maintain a competitive advantage. From this perspective, the need for the extension of the existing business intelligence systems into BlackBerry is established. This, the RIM promoters insist, facilitates ease of access and prioritization of critical data, checking up of information against the set targets, review of information at a glance, and access to pre-defined alerts.

The promotional aspect of the marketing mix is wired up with other aspects such as time and place for purposes of reinforcing the salability platform of Blackberry’s solutions. The solutions are promoted as the best sources of valuable decision support that executives and policymakers can ever ask for.

Steps to enhance the current Marketing program

Three alternative marketing strategies are on offer for RIM: a product development option, market development strategy, and market penetration strategy. The first marketing option, which involves product development activities, entails increasing the current range of applications that are on offer for Blackberry devices, a crucial area where the iPhone currently has a competitive advantage.

The second aspect of the product development strategy entails a co-branding initiative, that brings on board a prominent software company such as Electronic Arts or Nintendo, to improve different Blackberry’s gaming options. The third aspect entails the introduction of new services, including an enhanced call center for customer service.

The second marketing option entails the use of a market development strategy for reaching out to new market segments. There is a large resource for RIM’s Smartphone consumers within the lower income brackets, which remains untapped.

Since Blackberry is entering its mature stage, the introduction of Blackberries at additional price points, particularly the lower price points, is going to be a profitable venture in the future. As RIM introduces the latest Smartphone models, older ones could be sold at discounted prices. This plan may be introduced to variations by increasing product depth, whereby new Blackberry models are manufactured, with a similar sleek image but with less advanced features. Such new versions could be introduced to many introductory users, especially the younger members of the market segment.

Alternatively, there is the option of employing a market penetration strategy in order to maximize on increase in revenues from the existing clientele. In this regard, it will be necessary for new customers to be attracted from the existing target markets. This may involve increase in the number of promotions and advertising ventures that are in place today. The growth potential of this plan can easily be augmented through an online advertising plan that focuses on the most popular social networking sites.

A new broad range of software and applications need to be developed in order to facilitate the increase in consumer market share. A co-branding venture with a reputable electronics company may be a viable solution. Providing new software to consumers at competitive prices is a great way of appealing to the consumer market.

Competitor-based pricing strategy may help in market penetration. For instance, the highest-ranking applications sold by Apple for the iPhone go for $0.99 or less. For the Blackberry, the best competitive advantage is one that introduced highly refined software for a price that is lower than that of the iPhone. The company may also assess the viability of introducing free trial versions of the most popular programs, particularly those that are pre-loaded on the Smartphone device. The company also needs to establish itself as a socially responsible organization. This realm can best be pursued as a promotional consideration as a critical element of RIM’s product development strategy. The company can engage in R&D initiatives that portray awareness of and response to emerging green technology and product recycling trends. Promotional material for the company’s green marketing campaign need to flood media outlets, whereas the recycling drive as well as the gaming/applications offerings can be promoted primarily online in order to reach out to the tech-savvy youth

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