This essay pertains to a marketing audit and analysis for NBLT (NB Leisure Trust) which is a registered charity originally set up for the purposes of running the sporting assets of a small local authority council. While the purpose of setting up NBLT was never, prima facie, commercial, the government at that point expected it to cover its own costs while providing people a social service. However, now due to its prevalent commercial incorrectness, the Trust is having problems being run efficiently, and for this purpose a commercial re-auditing of the situation is required as a means to an end of complete self-sufficiency of the trust.
As the very first Marketing Manager for NBLT, with the creation of the trust’s first ever marketing budget of £500,000 at my disposal, I would prefer to set out the aims and objectives of my plan of action and a strategy for the way forward, followed by how this can be implemented based upon the unique characteristics of the consumer base. The marketing plan then consists of the following objectives in terms of maximizing competition and profit in line with the SWOT and PESTEL requirements (Porter, 2008)
(1) Identification of the nearby private gyms, which are the competitors
(2) To understand the weight of NBLT’s commercial and infrastructural strengths against its rivals.
(3) Evaluate and formulate alterative options of marketing strategy
(4) To come up with NBLT’s immediate marketing strategy in the given circumstances.
At this point, it should be noted that the budget of NBLT has to bear the burnt of “public good” which simply means that the overall benefit to society must be considered in advance of any action taken for commercial, saving or profit making purposes. This is evident from the fact that the Trust cannot afford to “lay off” people or even prevent over-staffing of the full time or part time workers in line with its current obligations under the transfer deed.
Furthermore, there is an evident lack of a prescription to the 7P’s in the current NBLT strategy, which ignores the fact that commercial effectiveness does not come merely good financial management but is also highly dependant upon how the consumer orientation is managed. NBLT is basically providing a service and not a product, and therefore it has to be realized that a “service” is essentially characterised by the “lack of ownership”, intangibility, inseparability, perish ability and heterogeneity. Thus, a subscription to a corrective service marketing mix in this case will involve the consideration of the 7 P’s in the context of product, price, place, promotion, physical evidence, process and people (Kotler et al, 1996).
The paragraphs below reflect the complication in service management due to the interaction of people, physical evidence, and process. However the following points of importance in the context of the 7 Ps must be noted. Firstly NBLT lacks far behind in terms of promotion it has been admitted that the Marketing promotional activities has been until now limited. To run the trust with commercial success and preserve its current profits (if any) newspaper adverts, and poster campaigns will simply not be enough (Shimp, 2000). There needs to be more work done within the unemployed, young and old consumer base as well as young employed people who would like to keep fit (Shimp, 2000).
Secondly, and admittedly, the earlier NBLT consumer target was providing meaningful activities to children and the local aging population, but at this point if any profits and commercial success are to be ensured for NBLT it must look towards serious “non-leisure” athletes and economically better off young adults who would be interested in a range of sporting activities and be prepared to spend money at the facilities. This will also mean that the “passport to leisure” will have to become slightly different by offering commercial packages. The impact of EU legislation has meant that this card has now become an essentially “one for all” commercial instrument.
Following Jobber’s (2007) marketing guidelines and the 7P’s of service marketing the current way forward for success here is recruiting appropriate staff which would essentially be internal strategy. Properly trained people or even visiting professionals will enhance the commercial viability of NBLT as well its reputation, which can promise it better paying clients.
The next most important aspect here is undoubtedly the ‘process’ with which a service comes. Here it important to note that the “passport to leisure” card can be the key to success here very easily. Such cards are also good for promoting consumer loyalty and automating the system efficiently. It is already known that this scheme worked through a networked user system and a swipe card. This system can be enhanced further by allowing top ups on it like the modern day “Transport for London” Oyster card. More importantly the fact that the data base had grown to 20,000 members and stored such data as the frequency of visit and the facility and the food paid for, means that this information can be used to make and estimate future sale and profit trends.
The profit-generating focus also has to be shifted away from seasonal users to permanent day-to-day sports people and young adults. It can be suggested that seasonal users should not be allowed to benefit from the “unlimited use” of facilities unless they have a year-long loyalty card. This should allow a substantial increase in NBLT’s profits.
The facilities and the infrastructure at the sports complex might actually need to be redone from a commercial perspective and should look up to date and modernised. In the context of the SWOT analysis, it is possible to see that this may be the biggest weakness of NBLT that it is facing a threat from private gyms and leisure facilities which are practically laden with expensive facilities like a “cardio” gym and restaurant facilities which attracts families as a whole.
It is noteworthy that the transfer “deed” expires in 2010, which means NBLT can afford to cut back on costs and cut down the trade union, agreed staffing levels. Finally, if the Trust were able to achieve such commercial things it would look relatively straightforward. It has not been communicated in this instance where there have been on a record “3” years of self-sufficiency. In the event of this not being a case, the “Plan B” would be to simply focus on within the remaining time period, the maintenance and overall design of the gym to bring it in line with rival private gyms. Another option would be to speed up the privatization by bringing changes in phases to ease the gym into commercial profitability for the future. The main strength of the gym so far is its strong infrastructure and a decent current amount of funding. Much success can then be achieved from this point onwards.
- Jobber, D (2007) Principles And Practice Of Marketing, Berkshire, Macgraw-Hill
- Kotler, Philip, Armstrong, Gary, Saunders, John, Et Al.: Principles Of Marketing. Prentice Hall, 1996, Pp. 956.
- Michael Porter, 2008, The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy, Harvard Business Review, Jan 1, 2008
- Shimp, T.A. (2000). Advertising, Promotion & Supplemental Aspects Of Integrated Marketing Communications. 5th Edition. Orlando, Fl: The Dryden Press.