This integrated marketing communication plan for SAM Caribbean Limited has been developed based on information collected from the relevant markets and organisations. It is based on covering a short-term period and takes into consideration both the current and future needs of its internal and external markets. SITUATION ANALYSIS Company Analysis The School of Accounting and Management (SAMS) now incorporated as SAM Caribbean Limited is a private tertiary educational organisation offering study options for students ranging from Certificates and Diplomas to Degrees and MBA Programmes for thirty course options.
Their mission statement states that “They aim to provide high quality and relevant educational opportunities leading to Recognised Degrees and Post Graduate Qualifications, which can be pursued on a Full Time or Work and Part Time study basis, thereby allowing continuous self-improvement while enhancing one’s job performance.” SAMS commenced operations at only one campus in 1984, but at present is operating two campuses offering services such as library facilities with 9000 volumes, computer labs, a 400 seating capacity auditorium, a bookshop and cafeterias.
Consumer Analysis SAM’s consumer base consists of individuals both locally and regionally seeking the goal to obtain a tertiary education at an affordable cost with flexible study options. Analysis of the current student population shows that they can be characterised by their age, family life cycle and location, with ages ranging 17-65, family cycles from Bachelor Stage to Full Nest Stage (Wells and Gubar, Family Life Cycle Stages) and campus location choices based on their areas of work or residence.
Market Analysis SAMS target market can be segmented into Geographical and Demographical bases due to the characteristics of the consumers. Demographic Segmentation This segmentation of the market through characteristics such as age, family life cycle and education can be shown by SAMS’ scheduling of study options for students e.g. Part Time and Saturday classes for students falling under the category of Full Nest Stage, while student falling under the Bachelor Stage can attend the Full Time study options.
Demographic segmentation can also be shown through the available course options, which states that students over the age of 21 or students with specific educational qualifications are allowed to start their degree programs while those who are under 21 and do not possess such qualifications are allowed to pursue a particular course of study before entering into the degree option. Multi Cultural Issues This type of segmentation can be classified under the Demographic Segmentation base, as markets are sometimes divided based on multi cultural issues such as individuals’ ethnic backgrounds. However this may not be true for SAMS target market and current student population as it consists of individuals from various ethnic backgrounds and religions. It must be noted though, that the organisation is based on Christian values, offering a Godly Environment with services such as morning worships for students and staff on a voluntary basis.
Geographic Segmentation SAM’s market can be segmented geographically based on the location of the two campuses. When comparing the market for the North Campus vs. the South Campus, it can be shown that the North facilities and services are targeted to a larger student audience as compared to that of the South, perhaps due to the fact that the North area is more densely populated.
Competitor Analysis Quoted from the organisation’s course outline catalogue “SAMS continues to be the leader of private tertiary education.” Analysis of the market shows that SAMS faces no direct competition from competitors due to the fact that the courses offered are unique to those offered by other educational organisations. However, other organisations such as The University of the West Indies (U.W.I.) and The School of Business and Computer Studies (S.B.C.S.) still display a possible threat to SAMS as they can attract students from the market by their different pricing policies as well as their different programmes and services offered.
External Analysis The wider external environment is relatively important in this context as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago introduced a policy to assist students with their tuition payments for tertiary education known as “GATE.” Private organisations such as SAMS, accepted and integrated such a policy into their activities in order to keep hold of their consumer base rather than to loose them to the now ‘lower priced’ competitors who may have accepted “GATE” into their tuition agreements.
The objectives for SAMS integrated marketing communication plan can be summarised as follows: 1. To build on the organisation’s image and reputation in order to maintain its current market share and possibly increase it. 2. To improve the organisation’s internal communication processes. 3. To improve the quality of the services offered by SAMS to current and potential students. STRATEGY By using a profile strategy, SAMS is setting the overall direction in which the communication plan, based on the objectives set, will take them. SAMS needs to maintain its external visibility and a profile strategy such as this one which concentrates on building reputation and image that can be more cost effective in generating awareness.
MARKETING COMMUNICATION METHODS For implementation of such a strategy, the following communication methods can be used:- Advertising SAMS can use this method of communication as it targets mass media through mediums such as radio, newspapers and billboards. This method brings the advantage of reaching a very large audience but is costly with a small degree of selectivity. Radio Advertising During peak hours such as 7am – 8am or 4pm – 5pm when most individuals are going to work or to their residences, SAMS can advertise their organisation and their services to increase awareness amongst potential students.
Press Advertising By placing articles on newspapers with information such as course options or success statistics and achievements, SAMS can create interest among the targeted market. Outdoor Advertising This form of advertising can be expressed through billboards, in which SAMS can position in a heavily congested traffic area, so as to target a mass audience. Sponsorship SAMS can partake in funding events for the Arts, Culture or Sports with the intention of increasing their publicity and prestige of the organisation. It must be taken into consideration however, that this method is costly and must be used alongside other methods of marketing communications such as advertising as it is not sufficient on its own to create effectiveness.
Database Marketing & Intranets This would consist of SAMS profiling current students onto a database and sending emails with reference to course updates, examination information or any upcoming events for the organisation. This system can also be used in conjunction with the Intranet method, which can be used by the internal organisation to enhance its communication. This mini-version of the organisations own Internet can include policy procedures, templates of organisational forms and internal databases, which can be accessed by the staff despite their campus location. It must be noted that these methods can improve internal communications tremendously but at the same time put a strain on the organisation’s expenditure budget.
Website Development Although SAMS has an existing website, they can further develop this site offering a range of updated information to assist both students and staff. With this method, outsourcing of an external company to host the site would have to be done which can be expensive for the organisation. Career Fairs & Exhibitions This method involves representatives of SAMS’ staff attending such events to promote and meet with interested and potential students from the target market. For this method to be implemented, staff members would have to be trained. It can also be noted that this method is more cost effective that the other methods stated.
Word of Mouth This method is a very powerful promotional tool and can have a dramatic positive or negative effect on potential students’ perception of the organisation. Therefore, it is of importance for SAMS to develop opinion leaders through current students, who would promote the organisations services by passing their knowledge to friends and relatives. Although these are just a few methods SAMS could use, other methods such as sales promotion and personal selling may be difficult for the organisation to implement. This may be due to the fact that these methods are based more for organisations marketing a product rather than an educational service as well as, it would require a larger portion of the expenditure budget to implement such promotional tools which may not be suitable for SAMS in the short run.
Message Detail SAMS must use a consistent message to communicate its objectives. Messages showing success statistics can be used to build credibility of the organisation’s image and reputation e.g. 95% success rates of students attending while 59 first place world prize winners out of the 65 awarded to Caribbean Schools. While detailed messages can be used to portray updates or new courses and services offered.
This plan cannot be implemented without sufficient monetary resources. SAM’s available budget for this plan will be dependent on the availability of funds and the attitude of top management viewing this as an investment rather than a cost. The methods chosen above can be costly to the organisation but can also increase their current student base as well as increase their market share. One budgeting method SAMS can use is the objective and task method.
With this method, SAMS objectives are identified and costs are determined with respect to achieving these objectives e.g. For achieving the objective of building the image and reputation of the organisation methods such as Sponsorship and Advertising may have to be used in order to promote the success and credibility of the organisation. Therefore, cost allocation will have to be associated with the type of advertising being done as well as the event being sponsored, which may be very costly to the organisation. This method can be difficult for SAMS to allocate cost with respect to achieving each objective as well as it may be time consuming. However, if implemented, it may achieve the firm’s strategic goals.