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Marketing pursued by almost all organizations in present can take several forms, but all marketing efforts are act of communication. In this concern, marketing communications plays a critical role in the success of organizations (Heinonen & Strandvik, 2005). Marketing communication for an organization pertains to the creation and delivery of messages through selected media to communicate with its one or more than one markets. Marketing communication plays an increasing number of roles, internationally and locally across both commercial and public sectors with the expansion of communication options in areas like social media (Masterman & Wood, 2012).
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Marketing communication assist organizations in targeting one or more markets and this is the reason that most of the organizations use it with the help of a marketing communication planning framework. Firms operating in commercial as well as public sectors can make use of marketing communication to communicate with its target markets that could be local as well as international market (Olkkonen, Tikkanen & Alajoutsijärvi, 2000). Marketing communication helps firms in growing its total market share by influencing and educating customers in a new location (Wilke, 2012). Marketing communication also helps firms in educating a market and target customers about their products or services and show how it is different from competitors (Illia & Balmer, 2012).
With the help of a marketing communication plan a company can attain its different objectives related to targeting, educating customers, persuasion etc (Harris, 2002) and this is the reason it is also been planned to be used by the Marketing department of Center Parcs. The Center Parcs marketing department employees are also confronting different marketing and communication related issues and this is the reason the department head wants to resolve it with the help of marketing communication plan developed here in this paper with the help of Fill’s (2009: 309) marketing communication planning framework.
Marketing Communication Plan
The marketing communication plan developed for the Center Parcs Marketing department is developed with the help of Fill’s (2009: 309) marketing communication planning framework in the following manner:
Context analysis done in the beginning is vital to understand the key market drivers and communications drivers that at present or will potentially influence the Center Parcs and its marketing department. Context analysis if the first significant stage of developing a marketing communication plans (Masterman & Wood, 2012). This would help in critically analysing and evaluating the current situation, identifying issues faced by the department and suggestions related to the development of integrated marketing communication campaign to resolve the issues identified. Context analysis will facilitate in deriving marketing and marketing communication objectives. As well, it will also offer a rationale for the marketing communication plan (Fill & Hughes, 2012).
CP customer strategy is to maintain a correct customer database. It operates with eight million customers and is able to serve them with personal offers by setting a high response. The market purchase occasion used by CP is short breaks and it attracts people from different segments by providing personal offerings’ (Schütte, 2002). Center Parcs’ key market comprises of families with young children and ’empty nesters’ (parents whose kids have maturated up and left home). Most of its visitors are in socio-economic groups ABC1 and resides within a three-hour drive of the village they are going. It usually targets middle and high earners and make use of different basis of market segmentation such as demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural. Its significantly make use of life stage; life style etc to attract specific segments (Julier, 2007).
The company make use of different promotional tools to create awareness among its customers and this is the reason that in present it is been maintaining eight million customers (Ritter & Braun, 2004). The CP brand is quite famous and it is all because of its ability to serve customers with personal offers that help them in getting a high response. In case of high earners, CP services are considered to be high-involvement but in case of low earners it is thought of as low-involvement.
Center Parcs pioneered the idea of the all-year-round short break holiday in continental Europe and the UK. In the UK short break holiday market, it operates as a leader and holds a unique position. It also enjoys fortunate annual occupancy rates more than 90% (Ritter & Braun, 2004). The name of CP is used interchangeably with the provision of an outstanding short break experience in forest location. The company also serves its guests with several leisure facilities within its sites. All marketing efforts done till now were effective as well as helpful but with increasing competition in the business, it has become critical for CP to deal with it by moving its marketing efforts online (Julier, 2007).
In present different marketing efforts are focussed by its marketing department employees in concern to increasing competition. Its key competitors are Holidaybreak Plc, John Fowler Holidays Ltd, Park Holidays UK Ltd, Pontins Holiday Parks etc. With increasing competition in the business environment, it has become critical for CP’s marketing department to update its marketing communication campaign and make use of latest and advanced communication tools and techniques as per customers’ needs and preferences (Schütte, 2002).
CP has been consistent and active in its promotional campaigns in the UK. This in turn helps it in maintaining its strong brand image of short-break holiday. CP enjoys a strong monopoly position in UK short break village holidays serving for customers in ABC1 socio-economic groups. Its organization identity is quite strong but still it is vital for its safeguard its brand name against any new competitors entering the market (Elnadi, 2009). The company marketing department employees operate with financial constrains like specific budget for the planned campaigns and need to generate sufficient cash flows.
All marketing communication campaign and plans should be able to generate positive profit margins. The company aim is to be one of the prominent sustainable ‘Large Scale Tourism Destinations’ in the UK. All its employees are ambitious, and this strategy of CP helps them in ensuring that together they are accountable and sustainable whereas extending to prosper (Ritter & Braun, 2004).
For identifying CP’s external context PESTLE and SWOT analysis is done:
Political Factors: CP operates villages all through Europe that has stable political zone. Its leading position and the presence from last several years has also helped in developing positive relations with prevailing political parties (Julier, 2007).
Environmental Factors: CP is quite environment conscious. One of its selling points is returning back to nature, but strong environmental constraint may hamper some of its plans.
Social Factors: Leading and sustainable position of CP in UK has made it socially acceptable and everyone like to enjoy village short break with numerous leisure activities (Elnadi, 2009).
Technological Factors: New technologies emerging may help CP to decrease overheads and deal with environmental issues and attain competitive advantage.
Economical Factors: The Company need to consider taxes that differ in each country. Increasing costs with taxes would need to be handled in future. In addition to this economic position of a region may also affect its profit margins with a decrease in income or spending (Schütte, 2002).
Legal Factors: Legal factors required to be considered by CP are accident insurance/public liability insurance.
Strong and established brand name
Diversified business portfolio
Large customer base
UK’s economic recovery
The company stakeholders influencing its operations and different business processes are customers, shareholders, suppliers, employees, host communities or countries in which it operates (Cant et. al., 2009).
The company mission is to offer guests with the ultimate holiday experience – whatever the weather (Schütte, 2002).
Center Parcs is a well-known holiday operator, which specialises in short break village Holidays and in future also it should be in the same business area by focussing on extension of its target market.
Increase occupancy rate by 5-10% over the next 12 months throughout all villages of Center Parcs.
Increase sales by 10% over the next 2 years.
Attain an effective positioning in foreign locations in next 2 years by increasing marketing budget by 20%.
Increase awareness among non-family and business customers, like work colleagues or groups of friends by 40% within next 6 months.
Increase the number of companies and business using its conference facilities by 30% in next 2 months.
Increase number of premium customers by 25% within next 4 months.
Increase number of customers visiting the holiday villages by 20-30% in next 1 year and also increase each guests spending by 5-10%.
Marketing Communications Strategy:
The target audience of Center Parcs is a mass customer segment residing in domestic locations, but now it is also targeting to foreign customers to increase customers visiting the holiday villages. In this environment, the marketing strategy that could be used by its marketing department to deal with the issues faced in present is a pull and push dominated strategy (Cant et. al., 2009). In regard to CP marketing department’s roles of marketing communications, the use of both the strategies will help in concentrating on creating awareness and persuasion as its key role. The strategy will help in fulfilling customer demand through advertising and promotions such as discounts, personalized offers etc as well as pursue other customers to visit village holidays of Center Parcs. The promotional campaign will try to engage customers from different backgrounds to enjoy short break holidays (Dahlen, Lange & Smith, 2010).
Center Parcs communication mix will involve three key activities (TV advertising, guerrilla marketing, and event marketing) as per its communication goals set in regard to its corporate and business objectives (Holm, 2006). The marketing communications mix used can be exemplified by AIDA model regarding how it is proposed to affect its audience.
Guerrilla marketing pertains to an exceptional means of following established goals. Campaigns done with the help of guerrilla marketing will aim to draw the consideration and attention of the target market (such as non-family, business, foreign people) towards Center Parcs holiday villages. It seeks to increase short-term visibility and positive impact of the Center Parcs in the cluttered advertising environment (Schee, 2011). The exclusive and inventive nature of guerrilla marketing will generate word-of-mouth communication amongst Center Parcs customers that is essential from time-to-time to keep ahead of competitors as well as attract customers from different segments (Lin & Smyrnios, 2007). One of the key campaigns in regard to guerrilla marketing that could be used by Center Parcs is “Center Parcs Short-Break Village Holidays” ad on a bus.
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The company can use its different village holidays regions buses to show its ad on the buses through cool optical illusions. Enter the shark, a cool optical illusion for this National Geographic ad on a bus. A cool optical illusion for this Center Parcs ad on a bus will be enter the village holidays for a short-break in busy and hectic lifestyle. Use of guerrilla marketing and relevant campaign are quite effective as it involves low cost that in case of set budget for integrated marketing communication campaign is quite essential (Smith & Taylor, 2004). Use of this campaign will create attention and interest among target audience as per AIDA model. Attractiveness creates through the campaign will increase exposure of Center Parcs village holidays in the cluttered outdoor advertising environment. Although the use of this is effective for the Center Parcs marketing department but still it has some disadvantages like in this it may be difficult to measure actual effectiveness of the campaign so, extra efforts need to be undertaken at the time of using it.
Center Parcs television ad will be made of visual and aural elements, with the goals of creating awareness, inform, and reinforce to stimulate interest and desire for village holidays, by engaging audience with sensory encouragement:
Sensual feeling of comfort and peace
Emotional feeling of calmness, desire, and enjoy
Psychological experience of lavishness and excellence (Ganeshasundaram & Henley, 2009).
The marketing department can make use of emotional approach in the television advertisement with the help of an involvement-based framework, which in turn will accentuate on attracting members of the target audience towards the advertisement, and evoking an emotional response. For attaining emotional response, it is vital to carefully incorporate visual and aural elements and focus on message appeal (Egan, 2007). Use of television will help in stimulating emotions and memory that could not be reached by the use of other media. It involves captivity and attention but need to focus a lot on message appeal and inclusion of appropriate elements. Diverting and drawing target customers attention towards the ad is crucial in the beginning of the ad due because of the likely issue of clutter and zapping. Use of television advertising is helpful in creating interest and desire among target audience.
This campaign is undertaken to stimulate desire and purchase of Center Parcs short break village holidays in non-family and business customers. Use of event marketing will significantly assist Center Parcs marketing department in building brand equity. Inclusion of discount and personal offerings as per the needs of customers will effectively appropriate customers to know more about the short-break village holidays, its benefits, and induce its purchase. Use of event marketing is vital in present as only advertising is not enough to attain business aim.
The campaign will be an independent public fair for Center Parcs short-break village holidays and its specifications. It will be an outdoor, 4 days campaign which involves discounts and customized offerings to encourage purchase. The campaign will be organized in a 25m Ã- 22m closed pavilion, with a kind of background served at its village holidays. Emotion-eliciting environment and well-designed village holiday’s type of physical setting will stimulate emotions in target customers and desire to experience it personally (Smith & Taylor, 2004). With the use of event marketing Center Parcs marketing department employees will become able to directly interact with customers that in turn provide an opportunity to build long-term customer relations by providing them excellent and unique experience. With this, it also becomes easy to demonstrate the range of village holidays offered by Center Parcs and specific features of all villages. This in turn will create desire and persuade audience to take action to buy it.
Scheduling and Resources:
Scheduling is significant for smooth running of company’s different promotional campaigns. Similar is the case with Center Parcs to make its communication campaign successful. Scheduling will ensure that all resources are managed timely and resources are well-distributed to attain the optimized effect of each and every marketing communications activity (Smith & Taylor, 2004).
Resources and Budgeting:
It is significant for the marketing department employees to manage objectives and budgeting altogether instead of consecutively. Budgeting for the above discussed communication plan will be done with the help of a bottom-up approach along with the use of objective and task method.
The television advertising cost in based on broadcasting on total 3 channels and the length of advertising.
The guerrilla marketing campaign cost involves cost related to taking approval on placing ads on bus and painting bus to give an experience of Center Parcs village holiday.
Costs include hiring labour and photo documentation of the campaign. It also includes costs related to invitation cards, pavilion, sales team and other people to manage event.
Implementation and Control:
All these campaigns will be carried out by Center Parcs marketing team. For evaluating the effectiveness of the communication mix evaluation will also be undertaken. This in turn will help the team in ensuring that the planned message is encoded accurately and are able of being decoded accurately by the target audience (Fill, 2005). For effective implementation and control of the above discussed communication plan tests will be conducted through pre-testing and post-testing in the following manner:
Guerrilla marketing: For measuring the effectiveness of campaign a customer jury will be selected for direct opinion measurement. This in turn will include testing different elements like aroused feelings; elicited attitude and the level to which it is able to direct them towards obtain (Egan, 2007). The customer jury used will be served with clear description and campaign’s computerized version on a screen to help visualization.
Television advertising: For evaluating the effectiveness or the impact of television advertising on the customer, a focus group of 12-14 people from the target group will be selected. All people selected will be invited to have a look of the advertising so that an in-depth discussion can be conducted regarding their perceptions about the advertisements and its impact on them (Smith & Taylor, 2004).
Event Marketing: Center Parcs events or public fairs will be pre-tested in concern to the approachability of locations selected, appropriateness of operating time to persuade the targeted non family, business, and premium customers to attend it, and the effectuality of physical setting in eliciting the planned affects.
For post-testing evaluation, the marketing department employees of Center Parcs can make use of recall tests. Recall test will help in identifying or measuring the effects of the TV ad and guerrilla marketing campaign on the target market beliefs, recall, and perceptions. Recall tests can be undertaken with the help of personal interview or through internet surveys. For measuring the effectiveness of Center Parcs events like public fairs, attendance at every event could be evaluated (Egan, 2007). As well, visitors coming in fairs may also be given to fill a short-questionnaire to obtain their real experience of the event and how they come to know about it (Brooks & Simkin, 2012).
Use of all these tools will significantly assist the Center Parcs marketing department in obtaining an insight regarding the effectiveness of the communication mix used and how television advertising, event marketing and guerrilla marketing are helpful in increasing awareness and help in attaining competitive advantage over competitors (Egan, 2007). For measuring the effectiveness of the overall integrated marketing communication campaign, the company marketing department can monitor the overall level of sales that will occur throughout and subsequent to the campaign (Brooks & Simkin, 2012).
With the help of above discussed marketing communication plan it becomes evident that if this is used effectively would direct Center Parcs marketing department towards the creation of an effective integrated communication campaign.
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