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Project Description and Scoring Guide

MKT 500: Project Description and Scoring Guide


Marketing Plan Elements (Ten Sections)


  1. Product or Service Description


Describe for the reader what it is that you wish to bring to market. If it is a product, describe the product, its functionality, and how it works. If it is a service, describe the service offering so that the reader understands what they would receive.


It is suggested that you create a product or service on your own. Please do not attempt to write a marketing plan for Google or Aflac, as that is beyond the purview of this course.


Your description should be complete, including:



  • Where your company is located
  • The problem your product/service solves – as seen by the target market (not you) – and to which the target market would say, “Yes, that is a problem and no one has solved it”?
  • The competitive advantages that you offer
  • The challenges might you face in the marketing of this product or service


Ensure that you have adequately described your product or service. By the time your Product or Service Description is written, the reader understands what you want to bring to market. If you have a Service Description, the reader knows where you are located, what your service offers, where (parking?), and so on. Describe it so that the reader envisions the product or service.


  1. SWOT Analysis


The SWOT Analysis is written in bullet form, with each bullet not exceeding two lines.  The SWOT Analysis is not submitted in essay form.


The SWOT Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding of these specifics:


  • STRENGTHS that you bring to the market and that make you a formidable competitor
  • WEAKNESSES that you know that you need to address, as your competition is aware of these (or may become aware) and will likely exploit these. Your WEAKNESSES should be addressed as soon as possible
  • OPPORTUNITIES that allow you to capitalize on your STRENGTHS. Where might you grow your business and revenues?
  • THREATS in the macroenvironment. These include those aspects that you cannot control, but they are there – the economy, the competition, political/legal environment.


You might also consider the past history of the industry or business environment in which you plan to bring your product or service.  Ensure that your SWOT is candid, factual, and is non-fiction. You want to demonstrate your realistic assessment of that which you have going for you and not going for you.


III. Target Market


Your Target Market section should do the following:


  • Describe your target market, whether a business or consumer market, using segmentation variables. These include the use of demographics, psychographics, geodemographics, geographies, behavioral segments, or other segmentation criteria.
  • Describe your rationale for selecting the target market(s) that you did. State why these markets attractive to you, as a marketer.
  • Describe the market in terms of its anticipated growth, revenue opportunities, past performance, etc. Utilize our author’s criteria for segmentation to demonstrate that your target market(s) suggest the likelihood of success – the market needs to be identifiable, measurable, sustainable, accessible, and reachable.


If your segmentation is too general, you will find that your promotional mix (IMC) will be equally general, as you will not have described your market with sufficient specifics.  Thus, have you provided measurable segmentation variables or have you described your market as “everyone who needs PC storage” or “everyone in Smithville who likes Italian food”?


  1. IV. Competitive Analysis


This section of your marketing plan will be highly dependent on your extensive research into the competitive arena.  You want to know what is out there and what the competition is doing. When you enter the market you will either a) already have competition or b) your success will likely invite competition. Regardless, any successful business venture usually results in competition entering the market and reacting accordingly.


Your marketing plan Competitive Analysis section should focus on two (2) key competitors. This may also include potential substitutes if competition is not currently perceived.  Your competition might be organized along several tangents – by industry, company type, or firm.


For your top two (2) primary competitors:


  • Indicate why you have selected these two competitors. Offer a SWOT Analysis that focuses on the STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES of each competitor.
  • Describe of each company, its current market share, its product or service set offerings, its financials (e.g., revenues, profitability, etc.), current positioning within the market, target market that is seeks to reach, recent history (how are they doing?), and how they market themselves to the target market that you also wish to reach.
  • Do a comparison of your product or service with that offered by the competition. How will you differentiate your product/service from that offered by the competition?  Inherent in your presentation will be why your target market would likely select your offering over that of the competition.  If you don’t have a differentiator, your target market won’t see one either.
  • Describe the likely response that these two competitors will take once you begin to make ample waves, assuming that you are entering a market in which competition already exists. What response should you anticipate?  What will be your response to what you project will be their likely response to your entry into the market?


Be sure to address substitutes.  Are there any substitutes for your service or product offering? Identify any key substitutes, discussing their strengths and weaknesses of those substitutes that you have selected, when compared to your offering.


  1. Financial Analysis


As a marketer, you need to justify your marketing activities no matter if it’s a promotional campaign or development of a new product or service. You achieve this by first having a solid understanding of the financial impact of your marketing initiative and then presenting your financial analysis in a well-structured manner using industry acceptable framework.


In the financial analysis section, the first thing to show is sales (unit) and revenue ($) forecasts. Usually, this is done for a period of 3 to 5 years. You also need to show how much market share you are expected to get, and most importantly, illustrate its return on investment (ROI) using the Net Present Value (NPV) method. To help the management get a better idea about the feasibility of your marketing plan, a break-even (BE) analysis is often required. After all, nobody wants to invest in a new product or service that will only break even in 20 years’ time!


To polish up your work, it is always a good idea to include a sensitivity analysis to show how these forecasts will be changed under various market conditions (good, normal, bad).


In all, your Financial Analysis should consist of the following:


  1. Break-even analysis
  2. NPV (net present value analysis)
  3. Sensitivity analysis for good, normal and bad business scenarios


  1. Pricing Structure


Determine the price you will charge.  For your service, determine pricing (this may be based on an “average” price per service rendered).   You must:


  • Demonstrate that your price allows reasonable profit in accordance with your profitability strategy (indicate this), allowing for your FC and VC that you determined in the preceding section.
  • Share the pricing strategy that you have selected, in accordance with those provided by our text author. What is your rationale for the pricing strategy selected?
  • Identify your total Year ONE Gross Revenues and projected Gross Profitability. Determine this for a three year window, based on reasonable projections. Does your pricing structure reflect volume discounts or other circumstances that might affect your revenue/profitability?
  • If you are using a channel of distribution, describe the profitability approach are you taking with your channel members to ensure appropriate profit at their end so that they will want to promote your product?
  • Weigh your pricing strategy with pricing currently offered by your competition. Consider how your proposed price fits into the target market and compares to the competition. Your pricing should allow for sufficient profitability to allow you to cover your essential fixed costs (FC) and variable costs (VC) on which you will want to reflect (but do not have to be listed).


VII. Channels of Distribution


When describing your channels of distribution structure, be sure to identify:


  • The rationale for the structure that you have selected
  • How you will work with your channel members to help them promote your product to the ultimate consumer. This may include PUSH and PULL promotional strategies.  How will you manufacture your product, warehouse it, and move the product to the next channel level?
  • What should your channel members expect from you, the manufacturer (marketer) of your product? How will your organization be structured to accomplish this?


As you will have a sales force (or someone who assumes the selling function), discuss the selection, compensation, training, and management of your sales staff.  If, on the other hand, you are selling directly to the end-used (direct channel), discuss this here.


If you are providing a service to your target market, you fulfill the responsibilities of a direct channel service provider.   You will not use intermediaries (i.e., wholesalers, brokers, retailers, etc.).  Instead, describe HOW you will provide the services that you will offer your target market (Note:  The Product Description section describes WHAT you will provide).  As a service provider, describe your physical facility, how you will deliver your service, and other aspects that suggest you are taking that which is intangible and making it tangible.



VIII. Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Promotion Plan


Your marketing plan should demonstrate a promotional approach that embraces integrated marketing communications (IMC).   This includes a clearly-stated MESSAGE that is consistently communicated to your stakeholders.


Your promotional effort should:


  • Demonstrate an appropriate mix of advertising, public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing, and personal selling. You should include the Internet and social media, too, as appropriate to your promotional effort.
  • Describe your primary objective for your promotional approach. Outline this in terms of measurable tasks that you want to accomplish.  What is your advertising goal to which you will measure success for your advertising expenditures?  This is a complete description of your proposed promotion plan.
  • Describe each of your promotional activities that you envision as essential to ensure an integrated approach to promoting your product or your service. Describe your execution (i.e., your rollout plan), in accordance with the following format for any and all expenditures (The dollar figures will go into the IMC Promotion Budget):


  • Weekly 1/4-page ads in the Sunday Ledger @$5,100 for each edition.

Ads run each Sunday for two months, followed by publication during alternate weeks for Week 52.  Total Cost $147,900


  • 30-second radio spots on WBAL-AM, with two ads during morning drive time and one during evening drive time; ads to run five days each week for first month and alternate every other week for five months; ads to run once each morning every other day during months Six through Twelve.  Total Cost:  $117,451

Consider what constitutes the most appropriate promotional mix of advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and personal selling, that gains you the most “bang for the buck.”   Who is your target market and what do you see as the cost per customer to reach them and to have them contract with you (i.e., purchase) your product or service?

If you plan to use personal selling or direct marketing and have previously discussed these in your Channels of Distribution section, reference that here and be sure you’ve fully covered the communication aspects of these tools.

You must show a clear understanding of what you want your IMC promotional strategy to do for you in terms of measurable outcomes. Ensure your IMC approach makes sense, given that you could easily spend millions of dollars (in theory) to promote your product or service.


When all is done, your IMC Strategy will provide an executable promotional plan that indicates the what, where, when, and how much.

  1. Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Budget

Tally up your projected IMC budget for your FIRST Year.  You should include your costs for any and all advertising, public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing programs, and personal selling. Remember to include benefits (35%) for sales personnel, should this be part of your plan.


To gain a clear and accurate understanding, your research will be important.  You are expected to contact an appropriate radio station, newspaper, etc., to determine the actual cost to advertise in that media.  This is not a “guesstimate,” but an actual budget that is based on your projected promotional plan and an income stream that will support it.


Include in your Promotion Budget your projected dollar costs for promotion for your first year of business.  This should be based on your having made a diligent effort to understand approximate expenses for advertising/media and other promotional venues.


Your evaluation for this section is based, in part, on demonstrated diligence that allows you to communicate to your instructor your thorough understanding of the realities of promotion.


Consider your costs for the following possible promotional costs:


  • Television
  • Radio
  • Magazines
  • Newspaper
  • Internet
  • Outdoor Advertising
  • Yellow Pages
  • Miscellaneous other advertising
  • Social Media
  • Advertising Agency services
  • Public Relations services (publicity, etc.)
  • Sales Promotion (what you have created, e.g., magnets, coffee mugs; trade show participation)
  • Direct Marketing program (Direct Mail, “Permission Marketing,” etc.)
  • Personal Selling (salary and 35% benefits, plus expenses)


  1. Executive Summary


Your Executive Summary is a one to two-page synopsis of your entire marketing plan. It is an abstract of what the reader is about to read.

Key elements include:


  • A measurable goal for your marketing plan and how your marketing plan’s success will be evaluated in quantitative outcomes.
  • A good mission statement that is a standalone paragraph. It should state the business or industry your company finds itself
  • One or two of your goals and values
  • A brief paragraph that shares specifics about each of the sections that follows. Remember that this is a 50,000-foot document.


When one is done reading the Executive Summary, one should be able to say, “Ah, now I know what this company does.”


Be sure to also include your financial highlights such as sales and revenue forecasts, projected growth and market share, and expected profitability. Briefly reference the current market situation as it relates to your product/service and company and outlines the opportunity. Point out key success factors and/or major pitfalls you plan to avoid. Reference major actions, changes or trends you anticipate over the next three years, and how these will impact your marketing strategy.




Requirements of submission:  Written components of the project must follow these formatting guidelines, when applicable: double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and discipline-appropriate citations. It should be conscience and written in the third person.

Critical ElementsExemplary ProficientNeeds ImprovementNot EvidentValue
Milestone submission and incorporation of feedback Meets Emerging requirements and addresses all instructor feedback through incorporation or clarifying questions/dialogue with instructor(9-10)Meets Emerging requirements and incorporates some of the instructor’s feedback throughout the progression of the project(8)Student completes and submits all milestones by the due date(7)Student submits incomplete milestones or does not submit by the due date(0-6)10
Comprehensive final product Addresses all of the main elements of the final product directly and includes additional elements that logically enrich and extend.(9-10)Addresses all of the main elements of the final product listed above directly.(8)Addresses all of the main elements of the final product listed above either directly or indirectly.(7)Does not address all of the main elements of the project listed above.(0-6) 10






Accuracy All information presented is accurate for the context and precise.(14-15)All information presented is accurate for the context.(12-13)Almost all information presented is accurate for the context.(11)Much of the information presented is not accurate for the context.(0-10)  




Incorporation of scholarly resources Incorporates at least six properly cited, scholarly resources that reflect depth and breadth of research.(14-15)Incorporates at least five properly-cited, scholarly resources that reflect depth of research.(12-13)Incorporates at least four properly-cited, scholarly resources.(11)Does not incorporate at least four properly- cited, scholarly resources(0-10)  




Application of marketing principles All marketing principles are applied correctly and authentically, demonstrating a nuanced understanding.(18-20)All marketing principles are applied correctly and authentically.(16-17)Most marketing principles are applied correctly and authentically.(14-15)Many marketing principles are applied incorrectly or not authentically.(0-13)  




Evidence of higher order thinking All evaluations and proposals derive logically from the evidence, and demonstrate creativity.(18-20)All evaluations and proposals derive logically from the evidence.(16-17)Most evaluations and proposals derive logically from the evidence.(14-15)


Many evaluations and proposals do not derive logically from the evidence.(0-13)  



Mechanics No errors related to organization, grammar, and style(9-10)Errors of grammar, organization, and style are marginal and rarely interrupt the flow(8)Errors of grammar, organization, and style are limited enough that the paper is still able to be understood(7)Errors of grammar, organization, and style make the paper difficult to understand(0-6)  




Earned Total

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