Marketing Plan Final ManageMyLife.com Sample Paper

Introduction

In the first quarter of 2008, Sears Holdings Corporation purchased the pre-existing website known as Manage My Home, or www.ManageMyHome.com. Shortly thereafter, work began toward building a new brand around this site. It would be a part of the Sears family brands, but not as readily apparent as belong to Sears at this point as other, well known brands such as Kenmore or DieHard. In the last quarter of 2009, Manage My Home would become Manage My Life, expanding the offerings and focus from beyond household appliances and tools to a more encompassing variety including health and beauty, kids and family, food and diet, fashion, and so on. The goal for ManageMyLife.com was for Sears to provide a customer facing hub of information. This is a value add service for customers, providing them answers to questions that the manuals, sales people, and manufacturers often will not provide. This is also a resource for non-Sears customers, drawing those in who may have been tainted by previous experiences with Sears. The Sears logo and branding will not be prominent on the ManageMyLife.com website. ManageMyLife.com will have its own branding. The site will direct visitors toward Sears branded websites for purchases or service orders when possible. This site will also drive customers toward non-Sears sites, but Sears business partner sites who provide goods and services not typically available through other Sears brands. The ManageMyLife.com should build goodwill through social community initiatives on the site. It will help to revitalize the common knowledge of Sears as company that cares and is there for more than to simply make a quick buck. The ManageMyLife.com website will be very different from other initiatives previously undertaken by the Sears Holdings Corporation. This will require not only adhering to existing, traditional marketing concepts, but also adopting newer marketing practices and perhaps even inventing new ones. We will take a look now at some of the beginning strategies for making ManageMyLife.com a successful endeavour including a brief market analysis, competition review, and possible marketing strategies.

Market Analysis

The ManageMyLife.com website will be an online initiative. This means that, for less money, we will be reaching a broader audience than any previously existing initiative. We cannot rely on the Sears name as with other projects, although the Sears brand will be integral to the overall success of the program. Aside from the overall lower cost to implement and market, one of the sparkling beauties of ManageMyLife.com is that it is appealing to such a wide variety of different market segments. In reality, anyone from anywhere can find use and value for this website. Of course, as a business, we must consider where the greatest value for us is. In the initial stages, we must narrow our target market considerably. Once we have properly targeted and marketed to that handful of segments we determine are the greatest value, then we can easily redirect a portion of our energies to expanding our marketing platform.

In an effort to determine where our marketing dollars and energies should mostly be spent in the initial phases of the ManageMyLife.com initiative, we must come up with an avatar of the ideal client for both the site and Sears. We need to be looking for customers in the United States. They will have a median to comfortable/disposable income. Typically, they will be homeowners, and have a family. Most likely they will be in their late twenties to middle ages, with school aged children. Making use of the Nielsen Claritas Prizm database, we can most likely focus on a few key groups.

The Heartlanders group consists mainly on middle to elderly aged couples from white collar careers. They have a median household income of just over $44,000. They shop at Kmart (a Sears company), read Family Handyman, and news programs such as the CBS Early Show (Nielsen Claritas, 2011).


Marketing Analysis Part Two

The Kids & Cul-de-sacs group aligns closer to the target age range of being between 25 and 44. They have a moderate income, but more than the Heartlanders, at around $75,000. Because of that, however, this group would be more likely to call a repair technician than to look for their own answers. We believe the current economic times, however, do have people watching their money a little closer, many attempting to find their own answers where they might not have previously. You’re going to find mall and name brand shoppers in this group, which also makes them a perfect segment for the ManageMyLife.com website (Nielsen Claritas, 2011).

The Brite Lites, Li’l City segment makes another great group for us to focus on. Mostly managers and middle-management, this group is also technically acclimated and likely to look for answers online. They like to buy name brand products and they like saving their money whenever possible (Nielsen Claritas, 2011).

With these three market segments in mind, we can begin to focus on an actual marketing strategy. This will require some basic keyword analysis. We will need to create no less than three landing pages—one for each form of marketing, as each market segment will have a marketing plan targeting them directly. This marketing plan will be developed in part to surveys that will be given online to these market segments.

As we can see from the above image from SEOMoz.org (2010), Internet marketing has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years. As ManageMyLife.com is an online only entity, we will need to focus in this area specifically. Most likely, we will be looking at a minimum of $5,000 in pay-per-click, or PPC advertising a month for the first few months targeting keywords that will need to be found through an in depth analysis. Nonetheless, Internet marketing is far more customizable than previous forms of marketing, and it can be tracked 100% with changes made in minutes rather than weeks and months as it would take with more traditional print, radio, and television advertisements (FranchiseMarketingOnline.com, 2011).

Competition Review

ManageMyLife.com is not a totally new concept. As such, we must be aware of the current sites that might follow along the same lines. These sites include both free sites—offering information at no cost—and pay sites, which answer questions only on a paid basis. These sites would include TechHelp.net, eHow.com, Ask.com, Yahoo Answers, and many more. There are literally thousands of sites out there that fall into this relatively general category. As ManageMyLife.com has launched with a focus on more than just appliances and tools, encompassing all those other areas has made marketing the program even more difficult. We have a broader audience, which means we have more competition.

There are two main things ManageMyLife.com has over its competition. First, we know that ManageMyLife.com is the first of its kind supported by a major retailer. These other sites are all online only projects without the kind of support that ManageMyLife.com has through its relationship with Sears. The other thing is the wide variety of topics covered by ManageMyLife.com. With this, we see one of greatest liabilities is also one of our stronger assets. Also, at least during the initial stages, ManageMyLife.com will be a completely free site. There will be nothing for sale on ManageMyLife.com, although the site might direct you to other sites for purchases. We will not have the rampant Google ads and other banner marketing many of our competing sites have, and need to survive.

Choice Marketing Strategies

As we have discussed, ManageMyLife.com is not going to be selling anything—at least, not in the beginning. Rather, ManageMyLife.com is a part of a larger marketing program. Nonetheless, the very idea of ManageMyLife.com must be sold to market. This is because it is supposed to be something to draw people in on its own. Furthermore, there is hope for certain services to be sold directly on and through ManageMyLife.com in the future. In the beginning, however, we will follow some basic patterns of essential marketing strategies.

Any income for ManageMyLife.com will come from the advertisements link to other Sears and Sears’s business partner sites. There will be a nominal fee for click thrus and a larger commission-based fee for those clicks that actually convert. We will have a support team in a contact center operating from early morning hours to later evening hours. This support team will be handpicked for their knowledge and willingness to help the customer. The team will handle incoming customer phone calls, emails, and live chat requests. The team will also assist with cross-branding through blog channels. The ManageMyLife.com team will be able to bridge the gap between a variety of communications channels, drawing upon the knowledge and capabilities of a variety of Sears departments, answering customers’ questions on all topics rather than the more narrow field specialties of the average Sears representative. There will be a marketing team in place at higher levels to sign on new business partners and find new paths for branding through other Sears sales operation channels. Promotions will include on-site marketing, social networking, and an email newsletter. There is a hope that serious attention will be given to off-site online marketing, which goes beyond basic social bookmarking. This would include article submissions, press releases, newsfeeds, forum and blog linking, and more. Sears has never taken an endeavour such as this, however, so there will be a need for experts on the subject to be brought in at an upper management level.

Conclusion

The ManageMyLife.com website is a giant undertaking. As part of the Sears mission to dominate online, this website is absolutely necessary. If the marketing steps taken in the early stages do not pan out, it is possible that the ManageMyLife.com website will be able to continue for a longer amount of time than the average Internet initiative simply because of being backed by Sears. One must understand that missteps in these early stages, however, can easily defeat the purpose for later stages. If a return is not gained quickly, it will be harder to prove reason for continued investment. Also, if the wrong practices are implemented earlier on, damage can certainly be done to the entire project that could be hard to recover from. The main thing to remember is that, while ManageMyLife.com has a very wide potential audience, we must move forward slowly. Address everyone, but market only to those small groups of market segments as discussed. Once we have gained a respectable share of those initial market segments, we can repurpose some of the talent and finances to market toward other market segments. ManageMyLife.com has a wide amount of topics to cover, which serves as both a hindrance and an asset. With the backing of the Sears brand, ManageMyLife.com does have a certain positive outlook. It is important that the marketing be moved forward with properly. This could become the next great platform for online retail. It could put Sears back on the map—in a positive light.

References

Nielsen Claritas. (2011). Prizm Market Segmentations. Retrieved January 22, 2011 from http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp?ID=30&SubID=&pageName=Segment%2BLook-up

FranchiseMarketingOnline.com. (2011). Franchise Marketing Online. Retrieved January 22, 2011 from http://www.franchisemarketingonline.com.au

SEOMoz.org. (2011). SEOMoz.org. Retrieved January 22, 2011 from http://www.seomoz.org

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