Instructions for Group Project (Marketing Plan for a Proposed Business)
Would you believe that a wealthy venture capitalist from “up north” has identified central
Mississippi as a prime area of business opportunity? He has earmarked ten million dollars for
investment in promising business ventures. He will be visiting this area at the end of the semester
and will be deciding which businesses to invest his imaginary money in. Venture capitalist and
other finance professionals do not invest in dreams and ideas. They do invest in sound business
proposals documented by a written marketing plan.
Therefore, this project will required you to work with a group of students to prepare a well
thought out, abbreviated marketing plan for a new business venture. Your group will choose a
business venture from a list provided by the instructor. Although similar businesses or products
may already exist, there should be something innovative in your approach. The key to having a
sound proposal is to have an idea that is meeting a need that is not currently being met. You do
not want to have a “me too” product or type of business. You must turn in your choice on the
assigned date as noted on the class schedule. Also a draft of the introduction/executive summary
will be turned in early in the semester to verify that the group has a clear grasp of the overall idea
and what is required. The final written marketing plan will be turned in as indicated on the class
schedule. There will also be a group presentation of the plan at the end of the semester. The
marketing plan must be organized as follows:
Introduction/Background/Executive Summary (choose one of these titles) – give an overview
of the proposed business and what you will cover in your plan/presentation.
SWOT Analysis – describe the strengths and weaknesses of your proposed business and the opportunities that you plan on exploiting, as well as threats that may jeopardize your chances for
Market-Product Focus – describe the target market or markets sought, the attributes/benefits that are offered, and how those attributes and benefits will satisfy needs/wants in the target
market chosen. Also explain how differentiation and positioning can be used to establish the
product and or organization.
Marketing Program – give a description of your proposed marketing mix on an element by element basis. Be specific. For the promotional element you must provide details as described in
the Additional Guidance For Content part of these instructions.
Financial Projections – prepare general financial projections for sales, gross profit, operating expenses, and operating profit for the first five years in accordance with the instructions provided
by the instructor.
Both the report and the presentation must be clearly organized around the topics above by
using appropriate headings and subheadings. Please keep in mind that good presentations are
not read and that you will not have time to present all of the material contained in the written
report. The presentation is limited to 10-20 minutes as determined by the faculty member in light
of the number of groups presenting. Late marketing plans will not be accepted.
A sample marketing plan is in the textbook and on the instructor’s web site. Be advised that these are illustrative of how it could be done, and especially in regard to the textbook, are
not in accordance with these instructions.
YOUR MAKKETING PLAN MUST BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THESE
INSTRUCTIONS AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN IN CLASS
AND THE COURSE SYLLABUS. THE WRITTEN PLAN MUST MEET THE
REQUIRMENTS SET FORTH IN THE DOCUMENT “STUDENT GUIDE TO
ANSWERING AND GRADING OF DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND WRITING
Additional Guidance for Content This guidance delineates the types of things that should be
considered within each section of the marketing plan. Except where noted as required (bold,
italics, or with words), the plan should not necessarily consist of these exact items – some may
not be applicable to the particular situation at hand, and likewise there will be other relevant
items that are not include below. Also the plan must be in report format (see sample on instructor’s web site) and should not be a direct response to these items.
The written plan should be eight to sixteen pages in length (double spaced - pages must be numbered). The written report and the presentation must be clearly organized around the following areas and include consideration of the topics listed under each areas and as applicable
to your situation. The plan should be written in report format and must include headings and subheadings to clearly identify what is being covered (see sample on web site). You must use appropriate terminology to indicate the topic being discussed. For example if you are
talking about positioning, differentiation, strengths, or weakness those words should be
used in your discussion (not just in heading).
Choose one of the three titles above for your first section. In this part explain the general idea of
your business and the strategy that will employed for success.
1. Internal strengths. Describe aspects of the business/product that are sources of strength. This
would include areas such as:
a. Uniqueness of business or product
b. Financial resources
c. Managerial experience and talent
d. Manufacturing and distribution facilities
e. Advertising presence
f. High quality sales force
g. Good locations
h. Others that apply
2. Internal weaknesses. Describe areas of the business/product have or are likely to cause difficulties. This would include the same sorts of things listed above but where there is a
deficiency, for example lack of funding, bad location, or an inexperienced sales force, as well as
other aspects that would apply.
3. External opportunities. Identify and explain opportunities that exist or will occur in the future for this business or product. These would be things that you could do in the future.
4. Threats. Explain situations or changes that may occur in the future that could prove harmful to
the business or product.
Market-Product Focus – Explain who will buy this product or patronize this business and why.
1. Target Market and Customer Analysis. Identify those segments that you will be targeting.
Who are the intended customers for the product or business and what are their characteristics?
What needs and wants are being satisfied and how do they vary with the segmentation factors you
2. Differentiation and Positioning
a. Differentiation – Explain points of difference or parity that will make your target
markets select your product over the competitors.
b. Positioning – Explain how your product or organization will be positioned in the
consumer’s mind relation to what is already out there. For example you might position as
easy to use, faster, bigger, friendly service, healthy, reliable, cheap, for men, for young
people etc.). Be careful to create a clear position that is easily understood and that gives
the customer what he or she wants.
Marketing Program – Describe the marketing mix strategy you will use.
1. Product – clearly explain what it is that you are selling. The details of product or products that
you are selling should be clearly explained in terms of brand name, attributes, features, benefits,
drawbacks, models, and so on. Also include elements of the following as appropriate for your
2. Price. Include elements of the following as appropriate for your product/business:
a. Describe your overall pricing strategy (e.g., penetration or skimming, and prestige,
value or economy)
b. Provide information about the actual prices charged, associated costs, and the
resulting gross margin.
c. Provide information about competitors prices and how your’s compare. If there are
no direct competitors give information about indirect alternatives.
3. Place. Include elements of the following as appropriate for your product/business:
Describe your distribution strategy if you are making a product or you location strategy if you
4. Promotion (include elements of the following as appropriate for your product/business).
b. Advertising – give an overview of your advertising plan including where and how
often you will advertise and how much it will costs. In addition you must include two
sample ads: one would be a layout for a print ad in a magazine or newspaper
(specify where it would run) and the other would be a broadcast ad per a script for
either a radio or television ad (specify where and when it would run). Be sure that
there is sufficient content for a 30 second spot. Be sure that you discuss and reference
the ads in the body of this section – do not just stick the ads in your plan somewhere.
c. Direct marketing objectives – give an overview of any direct marketing efforts that you
plan on using.
d. Personal selling – explain the extent to which a sales force will be used including what
they will do, how many sales people will be used, and how they will be compensated.
e. Sales promotion – describe your plans for sale promotions such as coupons, rebates,
contests and so on.
f. Publicity or public relations effort should be explained if applicable
Five-Year Financial Projections, You must do the following:
a. Complete a financial projections worksheet for the next five years based the format
given by your instructor for this particular project. Do not use the projection format in
the Kotler book .
b. Compute and justify the breakeven point for this business in the first year of actual
operation. This should be carried out with a proof of breakeven per a copy of your
financial projections that would show a profit of zero or very close. You can use either
trial and error or goal seek to do this.
You must explain the results and assumptions of your financial projections and break even
point in both the written plan and the presentation.
One of the most common errors is an overly optimistic financial projection due to failure to include all
relevant expenses. You need to think of everything that it would take – electricity, insurance, water, phone, property taxes, salaries and wages, payroll taxes, auto and truck expense, shipping and freight,
materials and supplies and so on. Also, for a new business or product there will be a build up phase
typically causing you to have a loss in the first year or two. Do not include income taxes as that would be
dependent on the form of business chosen. Likewise do not include extraordinary items as you usually do
not have those.
On the final days of class your group will be asked to give a short, professional presentation to the class.
You will have 10 to 20 minutes to present your marketing plan to the class. The expected time will be
adjusted according to the number of groups in the class. This is your time to show the fruits of your
efforts. Your presentation does not have to replicate the written plan – in fact if you do this it will
probably be overly long and boring. Be selective and thoroughly cover the most relevant and interesting
aspects. Grading of the presentation will be based on the required information being presented, on the
professionalism of your presentation, and your ability to respond to questions about your marketing plan.
Please keep in mind that good presentations are not read. Please practice and be familiar with the
information you are conveying. You should prepare PowerPoint slides or similar visual aids for your
presentation. In the case of PowerPoint you must email those to your MC account and as a backup bring
on disk or memory stick.
NOTE: Your written plan and presentation must comply with the instructions above and those
contained in the course syllabus and those contained in the “Student Guide to Answering and Grading of Discussion Questions and Writing Assignments.” You should also refer to the chapter
on planning in the textbook, as well as the sample marketing plan that is included at the end of that
chapter, as well as other sample plans that may be made available by the instructor. However, you
should note that sample plans are examples of one of many ways that a plan could be done and are
not necessarily in accordance with this assignment. In particular, the sample plan in the textbook is
for a business that has already begun operating and leaves out or condenses many parts. Likewise,
there are other sections of this class that are also working on marketing plans. Be warned that the
instructions for those plans are often different from the ones given for this class.
Using a previously done marketing or business plan, whether from the internet or another class is a
form of cheating. Should an incident occur it will be reported to the Honor Council as an infraction
with serious penalties imposed including failure of the class and/or possible suspension or expulsion