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CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment # 3 and #4 (combined): A Full Fledge e-Marketing and e-Business Plan for a Private School in Lebanon
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CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment # 3 and #4 (combined): A Full Fledge e-Marketing and e-Business Plan for a Private School in Lebanon

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This plan presents in details why would a school go into the transformation from traditional schooling into an e-business / e-Learning operation and how to best do it within budget and cultural ...

This plan presents in details why would a school go into the transformation from traditional schooling into an e-business / e-Learning operation and how to best do it within budget and cultural limitations.

As part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing programs, Naja Faysal was enrolled in the Professional Development Award in e-Marketing via Cambridge Marketing College

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CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment # 3 and #4 (combined): A Full Fledge e-Marketing and e-Business Plan for a Private School in Lebanon CIM/e-Marketing Award-Assignment # 3 and #4 (combined): A Full Fledge e-Marketing and e-Business Plan for a Private School in Lebanon Document Transcript

  • E-MARKETING PLAN FOR A PRIVATE SCHOOL IN LEBANON By: Naja Faysal CIM / Professional Development Award in e-Marketing Cambridge Marketing College Final Report June 1st, 2009
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.0 Executive Summary 2.0 Introduction 3.0 Situation 4.0 Objectives 5.0 Strategy 6.0 Tactics 7.0 Action 8.0 Control 9.0 Resources 10.0 Conclusion 11.0 Appendix 12.0 Bibliography 13.0 References e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 2 02/06/2009
  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Education as other industries has also been changing at a rapid paste. The use of technology has evolved the way people pursue education and the way knowledge is shared and generated. We think that as technology has become more than ever available and affordable to a vast number of people around the world, it projects a big opportunity for us to utilize it to deliver a world class education in Lebanon. This plan creates a base for an e-business platform that is built to endure, evolve, and put the school on a higher level. The school needs to overcome the challenges set by micro and macro circumstances in order to thrive. Knowing the small budgets and limited capabilities, the school’s only solution is to focus on the most efficient, measurable and effective tools to reach where it want to be. It has to dissect its objective into smaller tasks and move slowly yet persistently towards a well developed set of objectives. Important to consider the culture and the people’s behavior in those villages and towns in the mountains of Lebanon, and respond to their needs effectively and profitably. This plan revolve around a basic principle of selecting a group of ideal customers, effectively communicating and convincing those customers to join in, putting all efforts to satisfy them so they come back and stay loyal, then eventually extend the relationship with them by providing more features and more services. Technology is understood to be a long term investment which would be a key asset and a major differentiator. It is as important also to identify a Human Purpose of the school far beyond making money and put all efforts in delivering on a set of values and principles that elevate the society as a whole. We are confident that this plan if implemented in the right ways will achieve the desired outcome of putting the school ahead of competitors and setting new standards of education in Lebanon and the Middle East. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 3 02/06/2009
  • INTRODUCTION The e-marketing plan is part of a set of plans and strategies that guides an organization to create and sustain greatness in the market place. This plan will provide an understanding of how to use technology to achieve business results and to siege the opportunity offered by online media in order to lead the market and achieve sustainable growth. This report is structured to discuss the following: o Analyze the situation o Draw up realistic objectives o Develop sensible strategies o Support strategies with appropriate tactics o Schedule and organize implementation with detailed action plans o Control, monitor, measure, report and adjust e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 4 02/06/2009
  • SITUATION: The school currently doesn’t have any e-business activity. As a result, enquires are not dealt with properly, sales are not managed systematically, market share is not measured and return on investment is not calculated. (To know more about the school, please read Appendix – A) SWOT Analysis: (for detailed analysis, please see Appendix – B) Strengths: Weaknesses: o Excellent and close student care o Bad Reputation o Suitable location of campus surrounded by o Poor quality of teachers employed nature o Limited resources/infrastructure o Starting from scratch o Lack of innovation o Passion and entrepreneurial spirit o Outdated educational tools and systems o Poor financial management o Lack of purpose o Lack of Customer Relationship Opportunities: Threats: o Customers Expectations is relatively easy o Customers attitudes towards technological to satisfy development o Competitors Weaknesses are easy to find o Competitors counter attack o An era of political stability o Possibility of political deterioration o A promising economic situation o Economic downturn o Increase in internet adoption o Changing people’s behavior in an extreme o Technology trends are easy to predict religious and political affinities o Inconsistent performance of technology providers e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 5 02/06/2009
  • OBJECTIVES There are five broad benefits, reasons or objectives of e-marketing. These can be summarized as the 5Ss. We need to decide whether all or only some are going to drive our e-marketing plan. The below objectives are subject to SMART criteria, which makes sure all objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. Sell: Although the school’s website will not be build for e-commerce or to generate direct sales, though the website can be a great influencer of sales. Obj. #1: Lead sales from 30% of site visitors in 3 years of the website launch. The website can also generate revenue through affiliate marketing. Obj. #2: Generate 5% of the school’s total revenue from affiliate marketing within the first 3 years of site launch. Serve: The school’s website is going to not only present the school’s profile or its approach and vision, but also it is going to add value through delivering content that is relevant and important to the target audience. Obj. #3: Update the website on weekly basis with relevant, interesting, engaging and important content and features Speak: It is a great opportunity to use the internet to start a dialogue with our potential and existing customers Obj. #4: Regularly engage (daily or weekly) with the people on our site and on other sites and get closer to them by joining their conversation and monitoring their behavior. Obj. #5: To create a database system that can: 1. Be integrated online and offline 2. Be easy to use 3. Provide a big level of flexibility to categorize and profile the data and use it instantly Save: The internet also provides an opportunity to save money, time and effort. Good systems help customers to service themselves and minimize the cost. Obj. #6: Acquire 70% of internet users in the Shouf area to be a registered members who visit our website at least once per week in the first 3 years of website launch. This e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 6 02/06/2009
  • will save us time, effort, and money of communicating to them (printing, distributing…etc). Obj. #7: Get feedback from the people about our website on monthly basis or anytime there is a need to do so, and heavily invest in self service features on site every 3 months to ensure customers satisfaction. Sizzle: The internet offers new opportunities to build and strengthen the brand. We can measure this by asking the following question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely you would recommend the school’s website to a friend or colleague? Why? What can we do better? Scores 9&10 are classified as promoters, 7&8 are neutral, and 6 & below are destroyers of the brand. The Net Promoter Score (NPC) is the ratio of promoters over destroyers, neutral do not count. (The 4 imperatives of leadership - Stephan R. Covey). Obj. #8: Run the NPS test every 3 months and thrive for high scores by captivating, impressing, entertaining and engaging site visitors with the brand and establish a relationship based on trust and confidentiality, so they can recommend us to their friends, colleagues & family members. It is also important for the site to create an online community where people participate in discussions and share information. Obj. #9: Create and seed an online community around the school’s culture and activities e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 7 02/06/2009
  • STRATEGY Strategy summarizes how do we get there? In other words, it summarizes how to achieve the objectives and guides all the subsequent detailed tactical decisions. Strategy is influenced by both the prioritization of objectives and the amount of resources available. Strategy should also exploit distinctive competitive advantages. Playing to our strengths - assuming the market/customers want it. Prioritization of objectives: When thinking of prioritization of objectives we need to identify what is most important and most urgent goal for the school. While the school is pursuing a renovation process, two major things needs to be on its priority: First, how the school is going to change the people’s perception towards the brand Second, how the school is going to generate enough revenues to stimulate growth and create systems and process. The below table lists the objectives in priority order and provides the strategy of how to achieve each: No. Objectives Strategy 1. To run the NPS test every 3 months and Develop a visually appealing website, thrive for high scores by captivating, optimized for search engines, quick to impressing, entertaining and engaging site download, simple to navigate, easy to use, visitors with the brand and establish a secured and accessible for all. relationship based on trust and confidentiality, so they can recommend us to their friends, colleagues & family members. 2. To create a database system that can: Search and study available options that o Be integrated online and offline meets the objectives within an appropriate o Be easy to use cost. o Provide a big level of flexibility to categorize and profile the data and use it instantly e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 8 02/06/2009
  • 3. To update the website on weekly basis with Identifying sources of information relevant, interesting, engaging and whether internally (school generated important content and features content) or externally (news & other information from around the world) 4. To regularly engage (daily or weekly) with Identify people’s behavior on other sites the people on our site and on other sites and organize a group of people to watch, and get closer to them by joining their and respond to discussions & conversation and monitoring their conversations occurring on our site and behavior. other sites. 5. To acquire 70% of internet users in the Launch a Traffic Generating campaigns Shouf area to be a registered members on different occasions using online and who visit our website at least once per offline media week in the first 3 years of website launch. This will save us time, effort, and money of communicating to them (printing, distributing…etc). 6. To lead sales from 30% of site visitors in 3 Use the website to present evidence why years of the website launch. this school is better than others and how to reach the school for further orientation and registration. Include the approach to education, environment and value for money. 7. To get feedback from the people about our Survey launch on site, by email or using a website on monthly basis or anytime there focus group to monitor what is working on is a need to do so, and heavily invest in the website and what is not. Web analytics self service features on site every 3 months are also to be used to identify what pages to ensure customers satisfaction. are on demand and what are not. 8. To generate 5% of the school’s total Promote e-shopping as a concept and give revenue from affiliate marketing within real guarantees for people to trust in it. the first 3 years of site launch. 9. To create and seed an online community Use a traffic generating strategy to bring e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 9 02/06/2009
  • around the school’s culture and activities people into discussion forums and seed the conversation by raising hot topics that are interesting to the target and responsiveness. As mentioned in the executive summary, we are setting big objectives and the only way to be achieved is to dissect the objectives into small and specific goals with time-frames and move slowly and persistently towards them. As the school starts to get the cash flow, progress will become faster and the leaps will become bigger. Key questions: What segments are being targeted online? Who is the target market? The Chouf area in the mountains of Lebanon is made out of a collection of villages and small towns. Youngsters find it difficult to get entertained. There is nothing much to do besides having a walk, watching TV or meeting with friends and family. As these youngsters started to go online, the opportunity rises; especially that they can influence the decision of which school to be enrolled with. So, we think the best segment to target would be the Teen Agers living in Chouf Area coming from a medium-high social class. This segment is important for the following reasons: 1. They have a big stake in the decision making 2. They reflect a young attribute of the brand 3. They are crucial for the long term brand equity 4. They are relatively easy to reach, attract and convince 5. They are neglected by competition 6. They are bored, frustrated and ambitious It is also crucial not to forget the parents whom in the end of the day are the decision makers. Parents vary, but the most important segment for our brand is the newly married or the relatively young parents who are open minded and place big importance on the education of their children. In the end, the brand needs to look young in theory and in practice. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 10 02/06/2009
  • Should new or existing products be sold into all existing segments and markets, or can specific or new segments and markets be targeted? There are big ideas and great opportunities when it comes to market development and product innovation in the Shouf area/mountains of Lebanon. Our strategic approach here includes all areas of the matrix below, however with different time frames. Some strategies are short term others are long term, to see full details about this please read Appendix - G Source of differentiation – what is the online value proposition? Can new digital products or services be developed? The Online Value Proposition is created by analyzing the benefits of the online services, positioning, and the differential advantages: o The school’s website is the first of its kind utility in Lebanon that brings together schooling and social activity making education more entertaining and academic excellence easier to achieve. (To read a detailed analysis of how we came up with the above OVP, please read Appendix – H) e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 11 02/06/2009
  • How do we deal with competition? Knowing the culture of the Chouf area, especially that politics and corruption are part of the daily life, implementing an aggressive strategy wouldn’t be smart. We are young comparing to competition with limited capabilities, so we need to be smart and steal market share slowly and consistently. To read more about our strategic approach towards competitors please read Appendix – F. TACTICS Tactics are the details of strategy. We need to list all the e-tools we plan to use, in the sequence of stages set out in the strategy. First Stage: Developing the Website The “Website” is the first step. For this the following e-tools are considered: o Search Engine Optimization by having quality inbound links and incorporate key phrases in the body copy, Title Tags, Meta Tags and Graphic Tags. To view further details, please read Appendix - D o Implement a suitable CRM platform that links the website with an integrated database offline and online. Understanding that people are different and delivering personalized messages and services will build a strong bond with the people. o Extranets: Use password protected content and a variety of services delivered for people who register to our website in the following forms: Site members Registered Students Teachers, Coaches, Staff and Administration * Use email reminders of passwords o Straight on the home page, a small space for newsletter subscribers will do the job. o Opt-in email: ask site visitors if they wish to receive our emails or third party emails. o Create online communities using Forums and Discussion Boards o Deploy usability and accessibility measures e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 12 02/06/2009
  • o Build trust by a clear Privacy Statement o Generate Feedback using Web Poll, Vote Caster, Contact us and Call Back facility o Online Calendar to keep track of events, holidays and national days, schedules and examination dates. o Create Photo and Video Album on flicker and youtube platforms o Guest Map to find school location o Affiliate Program with amazon.com, where we get commission based profits over selling books and other education items o Headline News using RSS and an opt-in SMS o Site Search Second Stage: Promoting the Website We will follow the communications techniques described in the e-Business and e- Commerce Management by Dave Chaffey: o Search engine optimization and registration in major directories o Maximizing positive mentions on blogs, social networks, podcasts and portals o Establish Online Partnerships with a variety of organizations, institutes, industry bodies, not-for-profit organizations, governmental institutions and many others o Interactive banner ads and online sponsorships o Opt-in Email o Viral Marketing o Give credibility of the website with offline communications Last Stage: Maintaining the Website This stage is about maintaining and improving the website. It is also about retaining site visitors to come again. We will do this by having a technical people on board solving any occurring problem, watching the website performance and generating weekly reports using web analytics. Another group of people should be employed to generate content and add features to the website to keep it up-to-date. Opt-in email is also used in the stage by sending emails to members to remind them about a certain feature and to keep them up-to-date with school news and top stories/photo/video…etc, Social Networks are also e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 13 02/06/2009
  • used in this area to encourage repeat visits from network members or registered members. Finally, offline communications can also be used to bring people back. ACTIONS Risk Management What are the things that could go wrong? What is their impact and likelihood? What would be the contingency plan? A risk management process should be in place should any of the below incidents occur: o Lack of budget o Hardware failure o Virus Attacks o Hacking and Hijacking Action Plan The below chart describes the action plan for the year Activity Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Building the team X Allocate an e-business Budget X Create the website look and feel X Choose an e-CRM system X Choose a web development platform X Launch an informational brochureware X website Optimize website for search engines X Integrate database online and offline X Implement registration, opt-in email and X other features on the website Launch usability and NPS surveys X X X X Create a Launch event and invite media X Send Press Releases and e-Press Releases X Run banner ad / PPC / PPM campaign X Run a social media campaign X Run email campaign X Search for affiliate partners X Create a viral campaign X Offline Communications X e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 14 02/06/2009
  • CONTROL Technical and marketing team should set control process over the website. Many websites actually damage brands with their broken links, dead ends, cumbersome downloads, out of date content, impossible navigation and unanswered emails. Getting continuous feedback from users, reviewing web analytics report and checking on the latest technological and consumer trends must become a habit. We want a site that is easy on the eye and clear to the reader and lightning fast to download. If that means dispensing with some of the techies’ zanier ideas… well our customer will thank us for it. A control process should be set in place to assess whether the e-marketing plan is working or not. This would be discussed every quarter of the year, where facts, results and reports are put on the table and challenged. This is where we know if the objectives we have set were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related (SMART). It is not recommended however to change the objectives regularly. According to Jim Collins’ “The good to great”, we can change strategies and tactics to achieve our objectives but not the objectives, we always need to have something to measure our success accordingly. The below figure summarizes key issues that could be used in the control process: e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 15 02/06/2009
  • Performance is measured against detailed targets based on the objectives and strategy. For our website the below metrics are to be considered: o Sales o Online revenue contribution o Subscriptions o Conversion rate o Enquires o Number of unique visitors o Number of repeat visitors o Average duration o Churn rates o Termination rate or attrition rate o Awareness levels The answers of most of the above metrics are available via the “web analatics”. A bi- weekly report is to be reviewed and assessed. Customer awareness, satisfaction and attitudes are to be researched continuously. RESOURCES The three key resources are: Men (and women) – Human Resources Human resources are becoming a key denominator in today’s economy. Great companies always assert high level of importance to the people. Jim Collins in his book “the good to great” stressed continuously that companies who want to achieve greatness must put the right people on the bus, wrong people of the bus and the right people in the right seats even before choosing which direction the bus is going. Knowing the limited capabilities of the school, we cannot afford less than a highly dedicated and qualified hardworking team for this e- business plan to be successful. Strict criteria will be implemented when hiring on the basis of “if you have doubt, don’t hire”. It is also vital to know how to attract qualified individuals and make the job appealing. We need them to be excited, enthusiastic, highly motivated and united on one purpose – to grow the school to international standards bar none. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 16 02/06/2009
  • This plan needs the following talents to put in place: o IT/Web Developer o Graphic Designer o Accountant/Finance o Marketing Executive / Assistant o Secretary (You can read a full description of these vacancies in Appendix – E) Money – Budgets E-Marketing like marketing is an investment. A certain budget should be identified and allocated for this project. This budget is to be divided to the following sectors: o Web Development and Hosting Server – Rental fees o Website programming and design – development cost o Cost of hardware o Cost of software o Maintenance cost o Operational costs o Payroll slips o Other expenses Minutes – time scales and time horizons for production, delivery, service, etc The internet is fast growing and needs quick adaptation and implementation of strategies. The e-marketing world is used to shorter timescales: you might need three months to prepare a TV campaign or twelve months to create a new pack; but you could build a new website in a lot less time. The time scales, schedules, and deadline are to be respected. This is the culture we need to implement in order to succeed. This e-marketing plan is to be considered for the coming 3 to 5 years. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 17 02/06/2009
  • CONCLUSION The school’s website is expected to help the school create a major edge in a virgin market. We have an opportunity to establish an e-business, in which we deploy our strategies and tactics to earn the market leadership and most importantly to talk to our most important target audience. The key for success is to use what is relevant and what is efficient and effective for the school. Leverage the e-Marketing understanding with the web development expertise can create breakthrough results and establish trust with people. Finally, the school is a humanitarian organization in which its main purpose is to serve the society and provide brighter future for the students. We should never forget the human purpose of the brand and the reason it exists. Technology can help us but if it wasn’t aligned with a bigger purpose, the school would just be a fad that will disappear tomorrow or after tomorrow. *** END *** Word count: 3,886 Appendix, Bibliography and References follows e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 18 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX - A Methodology The SOSTAC (Chaffey et al) framework is used as an overall outline for the plan: 1. Situation: Where are we now? o The following analytical areas are to be used: KPI – key performance indicators which identify the business’s success criteria, results data and measurements against benchmarks SWOT analysis – identifying internal strengths, and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. PEST – political, economic, social and technological variables that shape our marketplace. Customers – how many are online, how many are familiar with technology…etc Competitors – who are they? New online adversaries or the same old competitors as always? Distributors – are new, online, intermediaries emerging while old offline distributors are being wiped out (disintermediation)? 2. Objectives: where do we want to be? o The 5Ss are to be used: Sell Serve Sizzle Speak Save 3. Strategy: how do we get there? 4. Tactics: how exactly do we get there? 5. Action: what is our plan? 6. Control: did we get there? A plan without Resources will fail. The three key resources are: 1. Men (and women) – Human Resources e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 19 02/06/2009
  • 2. Money – Budgets 3. Minutes – time scales and time horizons for production, delivery, service, etc e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 20 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX - B School Overview The school is located in a town called Baakline Al Chouf in the Mountains of Lebanon that is very different from many other parts of Lebanon. The area is known by its extreme political and religious affinity. In addition, although it is only 45 minutes far from Beirut City, the area is still struggling with poverty and stagnation. Only recently, you start to see some youngsters using the internet, usually at an internet café. This and many other factors make this project a challenging one, yet a big opportunity to lead the market. People, for instance, are using the internet for basic tasks, like email, instant messaging, doing simple research for educational purpose and some social networking sites like facebook.com. The quality of internet in that region is considered poor. Most households depend on dial up connectivity, where some internet cafés use slightly better connection yet nothing even close to the broadband speeds that we know in most developed countries. Lebanon’s public schools are perceived to have the lowest quality in education. “The worst thing parents can do for their kids is to register them in a public school”. Private schools in contrast, are perceived as a better quality but usually much more expensive. In 1989, the school was founded to satisfy a niche of female high school students. Parents of those students were religiously conservative and demanded a female-only private high school. It was the only school at the time to provide girls who are coming from a conservative background with high school education, however in some time other schools provided sections for female-only in their schools to respond to the need. Since other schools had bigger capabilities, the founder of the school gave up on that niche segment and opened a mixed-gender school catering for all levels of education from kinder garden all the way up to high school diplomas. The founders of the school were driven to continuously decrease its tuition to compete in the market; this made the school attract low-income families who were not even able to pay what they promised. The school started to struggle financially since then and as a result compromising the quality of e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 21 02/06/2009
  • education. As its reputation drained year after year with debts accumulating, the founder decided to let the school to external management for a ten-year-contract; however this new management broke the contract on year five leaving the school in a vague future. The past two years (since 2007) were an attempt to re-launch the school by family members who, with their new blood, are making more activities, caring more about the quality of education and going an extra mile in providing more service for the students and parents. Despite the slow progress, there is a lot to be done. The school management should realize the challenges and opportunities ahead of them to create a brand that stand out the competition and make success a reality. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 22 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX - C SWOT Analysis: Strengths: 1. Student Care: because the school is currently small hosting a very small number of students, extra care and attention is being delivered. 2. Location: unlike some other schools in the area, the school is in a middle of nature surrounded by trees and has a great view to on the mountains. 3. Starting from Scratch: the fact that the school is starting up from scratch is a strong point since we are building up a new system far advanced from any other competitors and we don’t have an extra cost of removing old systems and its consequences. 4. Passion and entrepreneurial spirit: leadership is key strength for the school; it requires a culture of discipline, dedicated team, passion and determination to be the best in the world. Weaknesses: 1. Reputation: Through the years the school accumulated a bad reputation and distrust. 2. Quality of teachers hired: School were not able to compete unless it lowers the quality of teachers to be able to pay for expenses. 3. Limited resources/infrastructure: The school building wasn’t designed as a school in the first place. The roads leading to the school are narrow. The campus in general lack parking area, indoor playgrounds, central air conditioning, and many others… 4. Lack of innovation: throughout the years, the school didn’t create an innovative idea whether it is educational or recreational that sets it apart of competition. 5. Outdated educational tools and systems: the school still uses traditional tools and instruments. The use of a chock board, lack of computers, lack of accountability and systematic educational programs. 6. Finances: The school’s lack of management processes and measurability of revenues has lead to a freeze in the development of the school. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 23 02/06/2009
  • 7. Lack of purpose: the school was always struggling to survive. It has never believed it has a mission or a vision. It didn’t deliver any distinctive value that people admire. 8. Lack of Customer Relationship: The school has never put the customer on its priority list, it has never invested in having customer database, customer loyalty program, customer care committee, a website, emergency contact number, effective communication with parents… etc Opportunities: 1. Customers Expectations: customer expectation can be a great opportunity for the school to differentiate itself and deliver value. It’s easier to satisfy a customer in the Lebanese mountains who is not exposed to world class schools. This applies online as well. People would appreciate to have a website for the school where they actually benefit from comparing to a crowd of junk websites of competition. 2. Competitors Weaknesses: it’s easy to find weaknesses in our competition to strike when setting up the marketing strategy. It applies online as well. 3. Political situation: Lebanon is a country that has never had political stability. It is a country struggling in war every now and then. For the past year or so, the country is getting stabilized more and more. If this continues, we expect the government will take regulatory steps to improve governance of schools and other circumstances that can directly or indirectly help in the growth of our business, examples could be the e-government. 4. Economic Situation: As the political situation is getting stabilized, economic will be no different. The economic growth will increase the buying power of people who will then have the choice to register their kids in private schools. This will also impact the consumer behavior in adopting technology and the internet in particular, which in tern present a big opportunity to lead the online schooling and have a world class website that our competitors will find it very hard to compete with. 5. Social situation: building on the above, the social behavior will be influenced by the economical growth we are expecting. Adoption of internet will link people e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 24 02/06/2009
  • together in a virtual world they know a little about. So we have the opportunity to lead this process, deliver value and gain loyalty. 6. Technology: the advantage of the 3rd world countries is that they are followers and not innovators of new technologies and trends. So, we as marketers can easily predict the future based on what was adopted and successful in the 1st world countries and expect it to work in our countries. This posts a great opportunity for us to be well prepared to embrace on technology that effectively leads the school to an upper level. Threats: 1. Customers might reject our new approach and respond with disbelief. They might even challenge the modernism including technology and perceives it as de- humanization of certain processes. 2. Competitors might spread rumors and counter attack with bigger budgets and investments sensing how important this is to their business. 3. Political situation might deteriorate at any time. Knowing the fabric of Lebanon and the way the country is being lead, no one can expect sustainable stability. This however, doesn’t impact our business model directly but it might make our life harder with old rules and governance processes. It also might lead to illegal attacks from parties who feel their interests are being affected. 4. Economic situation can be an important variable. If economic situation deteriorates, so would the buying power of the people. This will effect the tuition level, thus the ability for the school to keep investing in state-of-the-art education and the human resources needed for sustained growth. 5. Social situation might not help the adoption of a new and modern vision for this school. With people stuck with extreme religious and political affinities, change as a concept is hard to be communicated and implemented. Any activity, any picture on the website, any communication material…etc might have negative impacts on the school. 6. Technology: although technology can be our biggest asset, it can also be our worst killer. It is a two-ended sword. Competitors might strike their big e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 25 02/06/2009
  • capabilities into greater technology. Our own use of technology might impact the brand in a severe way if it was done the wrong way. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 26 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX – D Search Engine Optimization: Frequency of occurrence in body copy: When developing the website, we need to take into consideration the Search Engine Optimization factor. So we need to write content that uses frequently the words of what we do, where we are, what industry are we in, what is our main attributes and competitive advantages… etc. Those key phrases should be written in the headings (<H1>, <H2>) as well. Also we need to link anchor text in hyperlinks and use a higher density towards the start of the document. Number of inbound links (page rank): the more links we have from good quality sites, the better our ranking will be. So, we need to make sure to have associate sites linked to our website. This could be industry bodies, educational organizations and institutes, Not-For- Profit organizations, Social communities, Social network sites, governmental sites and others that are related to our business. Also, we should be listed in major directories globally and locally, offline and online. Title HTML Tag: This is significant in search engine listings since if a key phrase appears in a title it is more likely to be listed higher than if it is only in the body text of a page. Important to note here is that greater weighting is given to key phrases at the left of the title tag and those with a higher key-phrase density. It is also important since this title tag is the text underlined within the search results page, which forms a hyperlink through to our website. So we need to make this title page a relevant call-to-action that demonstrates relevance to the content of the page in a customer-centric language. Meta-tags: the best practice is to incorporate some key phrases in the meta-tag while developing the website so that we ensure that search engine that uses spiders and robots can find or website relevant. Alternative Graphic Text: Since we might be using a lot of graphical material, we don’t want to miss the opportunity of increasing our chances for listing. Thus, we need to use the “ALT” tags to give a brief description about the image used and include our key phrases. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 27 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX - E Human Resources – Selection Criteria: IT/Web Developer: The person filling this position should have the following attributes: o Have the programming capability to create state-of-the-art features and web applications o Having an extra ordinary knowledge about IT especially the internet o Keeps him/herself updated with latest trends and technologies and continuously advising and suggesting new ideas o Continuously investing in himself to learn more and an attitude to be teachable o Having a track record of excellence in his field o Trust worthy The person filling this position is asked to perform the following tasks: o Set up the hardware and software that is most efficient for the school o Build an internal network between employees (intranet) o Advice and assist in choosing an e-CRM platform o Advice and assist in choosing a web development platform o Develop the website with coordination with the marketing team o Link all database together and advice on the best database solution o Advice and set up the telephone system according to marketing requirements Please note that the above individual may not be found as a full timer, in this case it might be adequate to be hired as a freelancer on project base compensation. He is also asked to provide consultation services. Graphic Designer The person filling this position should have the following attributes: o Be trendy, young, and internet freak o Have excellent knowledge about graphic art especially web design o Perfectionist by nature o Have a fresh style and impressive portfolio o Accept criticism, is open to other points of view and flexible enough to adopt someone else’s idea e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 28 02/06/2009
  • o Trust worthy o Master the software required for graphic design including: Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, In-design, After effects and Dream weaver Apple Final Cut Macromedia Flash The person filling this position is asked to perform the following tasks: o Work quickly and efficiently on artworks whether for printing or for digital use o Coming up with concepts and ideas whether it was including design or not o Help setting up the Corporate Identity of the school o Help designing the website o Perform variety of task assigned to him with consideration not only to the artistic value but also to the business value Accountant/Finance This person is not necessary recruited for the e-marketing unit but could be for the entire school. He/she should have the following attributes: o Is a certified accountant o Young and up-to-date with the latest technologies in his field o Trust worthy o Have more than 3 to 4 years of experience with a track record of excellence o Have a great understanding of marketing and the business of schools He/She is asked to perform the following tasks: o Unify the accounting systems in the school into a one comprehensive platform o Secure backup plans if any problem occurs o Manage governmental issues and taxes o Manage payrolls for employees and suppliers o Manage revenues and provide monthly report on cash flow o Present reports on the finance situation on quarterly basis (4 months) o Help allocate budgets based on his knowledge of financial situation o Understand the return on investment measure and risks e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 29 02/06/2009
  • Marketing Executive / Assistant The person handling this title should have the following attributes: o Have a clear understanding of marketing and business in general o Not only should be teachable and open to other points of view, but also has to have his own analysis and opinion o Extremely positive, ambitious, enthusiastic and energetic o Hard working o Young and had a great work ethic o Excellent communication skills o Trust worthy o Presentable o Team player o Creative and committed to self improvement o Fluent in english language (written, read and spoken) o Very good computer skills especially the following: Microsoft office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook Adobe acrobat Internet explorer o Ability to conduct research in the most efficient way o Highly active on social network and chatting sites o Socially active – opinion leader within his peer group He/She would be asked to perform the following tasks: o Assist the overall processes in researching, planning and executing business and marketing plans o Develop and perform key presentations on behalf of school management o Perform variety of tasks assigned to him/her in excellence within the deadlines set o Represent school management on any social occasion and brag about the school the right way o Help in the sales force by identifying prospects and converting them to leads and clients e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 30 02/06/2009
  • Secretary The person hired here has to have the following attributes: o Multi-tasking o Trust worthy o Positive, funny, enthusiastic and self motivated o Hard working o Teachable o Creative o Excellent communication skills o Presentable and socially active o Understands the business of school and have previous experience in schools o Have excellent project management capabilities o Pays attention to details He/She would be asked to perform the following tasks: o Answering phone calls o Answering website visitor’s quires in a time-frame o Arrange meetings o Assist the entire team in pursuing their jobs o Active on social networks online and offline o Represent the school in variety of events o Help in organizing events and conducting research o Data Entry, Typing, Filling Process Forms whenever required e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 31 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX – F Strategic approach towards competition: Flanking Attack can be used to strike the areas in which competitors are weak at, but we can’t be so clear about it. We should use this strategy below the line, in social networks, social gatherings and fuel it so people spread it for us and avoid confronting our competition in their faces. Surround and cut-off strategy can be used strongly with exclusive rights of teachers… knowing the number of good teachers in the Chouf area is very little, having exclusive rights for quality teachers would surround and cut-off chances of our competition and builds our brand. Blocking attack is also to be used by offering value-added services should it be online and offline. Guerrilla attack is a direct attack of competitors using guerrilla tactics like online PR can be used similar to flanking attack without signing off the name of the school. Territorial defense is a great strategy of approaching the YOUTH in advance of competitors. Mobile defense is achieved by developing new online functionality that is one step ahead of competitors. Stealth defense is achieved by not revealing information about tactics and services provided online or offline so existing players find it difficult to find out about what we are doing. Thus, use direct sales, networking and word-of-mouth instead. Diplomatic nous is achieved by partnering with content providers to increase the value of our site compared to competitors. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 32 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX – G Options for market development and product innovation: Market Penetration: This is where the majority of the customer acquisition is going to take place. Finding and hitting on the gabs of other schools, providing the attributes of great school, communicating the brand values, differentiating it from competition, promoting the new approach to education, and many other marketing exercises are meant to increase sales in current markets. Product Development: Here is another aspect we need to hit hard with because we don’t have the capability to beat other schools in their home court. We don’t have the luxury building, equipments and state of the art teachers to compete, all what we have is the expertise to continuously implement a process of identifying, anticipating, and satisfying student and parents requirements profitably. In particular we want to choose the “the one thing” we know we can be great at and focus all the efforts on it. In other words a well identified PURPOSE. It can be a different approach to education, say for example “having fun while learning”, it can be “the best english teaching school”, it can be “the best school in preparing for university”…etc e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 33 02/06/2009
  • Thus, ideas are all what we need. Ideas that can enhance the way we do schooling. Let it be the INTERNET for example. The strategy of using technology to enhance the learning experience is a great one in this scenario. It can also be events and activities done on regular basis. Market Development: For the market development, the school can expand its market segment to cater the needs of elder individuals to continue education. Classes can be developed after school time or in the summer time for people between 30-50 years old looking for “English language courses”, “how to teach your kids at home” courses or other courses we find on demand. The “Continuing Education” is of high importance as there is very few competition exist Another market to tap into would be the “pre-school” specialization, where we would utilize the school capabilities and deploy the latest technology to provide a complete educational solution starting from year 1 up to year 70. Diversification: For the diversification, we can open up other companies that compliment each other. For example an Advertising & PR Agency starting with the school as a first client and getting more clients eventually; An Event Making agency launching events where the school could be a major part with; A Book Store that sell the schools’ books and other books and student accessories; A Recruitment Agency for the Shouf area its main objective is to link talents to employers. Its first client is the school; A Coffee Shop and Restaurant brand that has its first location on campus where has ambition to expand outside. A Professional Sporting Club which facilities are used by the school but is registered in the Lebanese official federations in a variety of sports (football, basketball, volleyball, horseback riding, Olympic sports, and others…) and represent the Chouf area in general. A Media Agency that create several media ideas like Web Portal/Media Site built exclusively for the Chouf area; a Magazine printed and on the web presenting the Chouf outdoor activities and entertainment events (similar to “What’s up” Jeddah); a Radio Station or taking the exclusive operation of one of the leading English speaking stations in Lebanon to be accessible in the Chouf area; an Outdoor exclusive rights for producing and displaying ads; other POS ideas. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 34 02/06/2009
  • Finally, although the strategies presented above are very interesting, applying them all at once wouldn’t be a smart idea. We need to prioritize our strategies and drive the school to one direction at a time then move to another. First maybe we should focus on cash generating ideas that will help us invest in the future. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 35 02/06/2009
  • APPENDIX – H Coming up with the Online Value Proposition: The online value proposition is defined as: “A statement of the benefits of online services reinforces the core proposition and differentiates from an organization’s offline offering and those of competitors” (e- Business and e-Commerce Management - Dave Chaffey) Customer Value is a combination between product quality, customer service quality, fulfillment time and price that matters most to the ideal market segment. It consists of the following: Positioning: In order to start the journey of rebuilding the school, we need to know what perception we want to create in the customers’ mind. Here are some positioning statements we think useful: o We want to be perceived as the school of the 21st century that uses an up to date educational practices and provides international standards bar-none. o We want to be the easiest school to communicate with, we listen to what the students and the parents have to say and carefully take action to ensure their satisfaction. o We are a social responsible institute that continuously helps the community through raising the quality of education and fighting illiteracy. Differential Advantages: o We deliver what is more than education, we are a social place that builds the soul character of individuals and potential leaders o We use technology to deliver value-added services and best educational practices available o We continuously launch activities and events that breaks through the routine of studying and learning, yet keeps the purpose of the school alive o We are the only school that looks and acts young, and implement education in a fun way Benefits of the online services are: e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 36 02/06/2009
  • o Present our approach to learning o Make it easy for parents to monitor their children’s education progress and easily connect to school administration and academic team o Facilitate learning activities o Create a community of scholars, educators, students, parents and alumni o Communicate the school policies, news, activities and events o Publish rich and resourceful content about education o Help graduates decide their future by providing not only resourceful articles but also personal coaching o Publish the students work, whether an article, visual, audio, or audio-visual pieces. Thus the Online Value Proposition is: o The school’s website is the first of its kind utility in Lebanon that brings together schooling and social activity making education more entertaining and academic excellence easier to achieve. e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 37 02/06/2009
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY e-Business and e-Commerce Management by Dave Chaffey (Third Edition) e-Marketing Excellence by PR Smith and Dave Chaffey (Second Edition) Good to Great by Jim Collins The 4 imperatives of leadership - Stephan R. Covey The world is flat – Thomas Freidman REFERENCES www.bravenet.com http://sutherla.blogspot.com/2009/03/arab-countries-analysis-of-tariffs.html e-Marketing Plan by Naja Faysal Page 38 02/06/2009