July 17, 2008

Research Proposal Example on An Investigation on the Relationship Marketing Plan of Private Secondary Schools

1.0  Title

As initially drafted, the working title of this research is An Investigation on the Relationship Marketing Plan of Private Secondary Schools

 

 Basically, this library-based research chose the private secondary schools to conduct situation analysis and eventually prepare a relationship marketing plan for. In this proposal, the background of the study is presented that includes the significance and the rationale; the theoretical framework which is the Six Market Model developed by Payne is likewise presented. The researcher also included the objectives and the questions to be answered. The research plan and the annotated bibliography are also provided.

 

2.0  Background of the Study

Also known as independent schools, these private schools retain the right to select student body and are being funded by matriculation. Vital to every private secondary school then is the successful marketing plan in face o several economic, social and technological changes experienced by school marketers. One important premise is that private secondary schools shall make an effort in positioning private schools as quality product and service combined. Like any other business, private secondary schools should not compete only with private schools but with public schools as well. As such, for every private school there must be a solid marketing plan but not just a plain marketing plan but instead a relationship marketing plan.

Marketing to customers recently had a paradigm shift wherein the traditional marketing principles are expanded. By itself, relationship marketing seeks to create new value for customers and then shares the value between consumers and producers. Further, relationship marketing is an ongoing process of identifying and creating shared values. Starting the relationship marketing plan requires a comprehensive analysis of the situation.  

As the foundation of the strategic planning process, situation analysis integrates the evaluation of both internal factors to identify strengths and weaknesses and external factors to identify opportunities and threats. The 'Cs of Marketing' assists companies to focus on the elements that apply directly to their marketing. The five Cs of marketing are: company, collaborators, customers, competitors and climate.

Company refers to the organisation itself which is the private secondary school and the partners are the collaborators. Partners are the entities that help the private secondary schools to operate. The customers are the market, which are the incoming and incumbent secondary students and the stakeholders that benefited from the operations of the schools. Competitors are those actual and potential competitors and those that directly and indirectly compete with the private secondary schools. Finally, the climate is the environment that the schools are operating including governmental policies and regulation that affect the operations of the schools. The business cycle and other macroeconomic issues are also part of the environment of the private secondary schools.

 

For Ian Gordon, however, there are 11 C's the every company should engage into. These are customer, categories, capabilities, cost and value, control of processes, collaboration, customization, communication, customer measurements, customer care and chain.

For customer, Gordon suggest that the schools define which customers to build relationships with, what are the objectives to be achieved and what are the strategies to be use and for categories, schools should define the scope pf product/service to be offered to the customer. Next, there should be the determination of what competencies the schools require in order to provide customers the value they want.

Such capability-building action points to cost and value which is to build customer profitability by means of creating new value for customers. Then, there should be an effective management of contact with the customer specifically when collection of cash is concerned. Proactive working with the key decision-makers in order to develop sound strategies in every area of the business is known as the collaboration.

In order to create new value for the customers, various aspects of product/service development and the delivery may need to be customized. This could be followed by making contact with the customer often through meaningful interactive communication in order to facilitate soliciting feedback about the relationship built. In providing customers with information, there should be a developed, well-managed customer care process and therefore actively managing the chain of relationships associated with the customer. The customer in lieu with this shall include stakeholders, suppliers and distribution channels as well as the media.   

More than achieving the competitive advantage, the rationale behind this research is to optimise the relationship among private secondary school stakeholders. The necessity to arrive at an efficient relationship marketing plan based on situational analysis is high whereby the significance of the stuffy will be evident on promoting awareness and maximising the potential of private secondary school as a profitable business while optimising the quality of education. As the research could present significant findings on the reality of the private secondary schools today, the research could benefit the private schools themselves as well as the government, authorities and educational councils.

   

3.0  Theoretical Framework

Adrian Payne (1991) identifies six markets that are central to relationship marketing. These are internal, supplier, recruitment, referral, influence and customer markets. Such model will be utilised as the theoretical basis of this research. To illustrate:

Fig. 1 Six Market Model

 

Internal marketing means the use of marketing techniques within the organisation itself and thus employee, teams, departments and faculties could as suppliers and customers of services and products. This is central to the work-of-mouth promotion whereby ancillary, teaching staff, alumni and current students could contribute.

Recruitment markets refer to the third party domains that provide the core competencies of private secondary schools towards delivering superior service and education quality. In addition, it also includes the academia's own attempts to pursue increased in quantity through advertising and other promotions. As such, there shall be the well-managed and systematic approach to media relations which can promote the school and the general image of education on a wider audience.

Referral marketing focuses on the development and implementation of a marketing plan to stimulate referrals. Though it takes months prior to determine the efficacy of referral marketing, this is considered to be an integral part of relationship marketing and referrals are credible resources. In addition, advocates and alumni are proven to be good allies who can help in promoting the institution.

Supplier markets can reduce cost and improve quality by means of ensuring long-term conflict-free relationships between parties to understand needs and meet expectations. Building relationships shall include the local business community and other stakeholders such as the parents of the students.

Influence markets are the usual function of the public relations department that include mostly by the government, academic authorities, standard bodies, international conventions and national and international private school associations. In order to influence policies it would b also beneficial to develop relationship with the government through various funding bodies. 

Customer markets are divided into existing customers and potential customers. Value perceived by both groups is the nub of the matter whereby the emphasis is given on the overall effectiveness of the relationship marketing. This also means to build links with feeder institutions while also applying consistent entry procedures and sustaining the delivery of quality educational programmes over a long period.

 

4.0  Research Objectives and Questions

The main aim of this research is to undertake background researching of the nature and roles undertaken by private secondary schools before conducting a situation analysis and providing a relationship marketing plan. There are two sets of questions that the researcher must answer to achieve this general purpose. These questions are the following:

1)                           How do private secondary schools integrate the 11 C's of marketing developed by Ian Gordon in their relationship marketing?

2)                           How do private secondary schools adhere to the Six Market Model by Adrian Payne with respect to their relationship marketing?   

 

5.0  Research Plan

The research is basically a library-based research whereby the researcher plans to analyse the research subject then break it down into searchable keywords and then refine keywords whenever necessary. As such, the researcher will plan a library visit and locate and obtain resources. An annotated bibliography of the research marketing practices intended for private secondary schools is provided in 6.0.

Subsequently, the researcher will read and evaluate and keep records. The library research process will be utilised to facilitate context analysis in the latter part of the research. Context analysis refers to the method of analyzing the environment in which the business operates, focusing on the macro environment of the business yet also considering the internal and external environments.

In preparing the Relationship Marketing Plan, alongside the situational analysis, the researcher will utilise the eight step process also prepared by Gordon (1998).

The first step is the preplanning. There should be a prepared justification to management for the relationship marketing initiative and commitment of the necessary resources.

The second step is the customer assessment whereby the current relationship consisting of the value of customers to the business, the strength of relationship and the future business opportunities.

Benchmarking will be the third step so that the schools could gauge the business in comparison with the competitors in terms of their position with the customers, their relationship marketing strategies and the potentiality of converting their customers as yours.

The fourth step is the self-assessment wherein the current state of the business and if the relationship marketing would be plausible at the moment. Understanding of the core business and considerations of barriers that may hinder the success of the relationship marketing must be assessed as well. Examples of barriers to the private secondary schools are corporate culture, strategies and leadership, employee skill sets, current technology and processes and state of current customer relationships.

Statement of opportunity must be likewise included. The fifth step would be the summary review of the self-assessment answering the questions as: Why pursue relationship marketing? What kinds of relationships will be formed? What risks are involved with the initiative?

Afterwards, there should be an end-assessment of the success of the relationship marketing. As such, there should be a set of measurable objectives for attainment, customer buy-in for vision and goals to be achieved.

The step seven is the business plan in which solid business reasons are presented. The size of the business opportunity, the approach to achieve objectives and the timing for return on investment must be presented.

The final step is implementation being evident on the management of the scope of the project, barriers to adoption and the management of the relationship marketing itself. Since this may require the skills and technical know how for specific processes and functions, the private secondary schools could resort in outsourcing.

 

6.0  Annotated Bibliography

 

Peck, H., Chartered Institute of Marketing, Christopher, M., Payne, A. and Clark, M. (1999).  Relationship Marketing: Strategy and Implementation. Butterworth-Heinemann.

The book is arranged in 6 sections, this title gives marketing practitioners and students critical examples of best practice from a variety of companies. Alongside 'Relationship Marketing: bringing quality, customer service and marketing together' and 'Relationship Marketing for Competitive Advantage: winning and keeping customers' this new title provides readers with insights into marketing in the 21st century.

 

Foskett, N. and Lumby, J. (1999). Managing External Relations in Schools and Colleges. Sage Publications, Inc.

            This book explores all the major aspects of managing external relations in schools of all phases, as well as in colleges. The authors use empirical research evidence to analyze how schools and colleges can manage external relations to achieve productive and supportive relationships with their communities. They explore how a responsive philosophy and appropriate marketing can be adopted in order to ensure continuous development.

 

Gordon, I. (1998). Relationship Marketing: New Strategies, Techniques and Technologies to Win the Customers You Want and Keep Them Forever. Canada: John Wiley and Sons Publishers.

This text explains how to implement a relationship marketing programme in your organization, supplies tools for measuring results, and explores the practical role of technology as a key enabler in successful relationship marketing. It also discusses relationship management.

 


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