Marketing strategy and products are strongly interrelated. The marketing strategy is the generator of the value that organizations provide. Thus, the strategy presents this value in a product or service that fulfills customers needs and wants. Thus, marketing strategy and products can’t be separated. Without a customer-value driven marketing strategy, products that carry unique value can’t be established. The product can be a physical tangible item, intangible item (service) or a combination of both. An example of that is the service of outstanding English Language Education that Exceed Language Center in Sana’a (Yemen) provides. Exceed, the place where I have been working at as an English teacher since 2015, is the premier language institute in Yemen. Marketing strategy and products of Exceed has it made synonymous with excellence in English Language Education that exceeds customers expectations. In this session, we started discussing Part 3 (Designing a Customer Value–Driven Strategy and Mix) in (Principles of Marketing 2018) Book, which is the 1st book in the 2nd Year Books’ Program within the service of Global English Management & Leadership Books in your channel (Management with Merits – Manage to Prosper). For all book’s sessions, please click here. This session (within Part 3), we finished discussing chapters 7 (Marketing Strategy), 8 and 9 (The Product, 1st element in the marketing mix), as per the 1st below figure. Marketing Strategy is the 2nd step in the marketing process, while the product is the 1st and most important element in the marketing mix program (the 3rd step in the marketing process). Besides, taken from our current Marketing Book, we present in one page a brief description and sample of the contents of a generic Marketing Plan. Please note that we provided an Arabic translation for this plan in the Arabic session of this topic. To get the plan, please click the below first link following the video.
Marketing Strategy and Products : The Review Day at Exceed
The Review Day at Exceed is one of the strongest points of Exceed’s superior value of English Language Education. The day is the immediate next working day after the final exam day at the end of each term. Yesterday (Thursday, Nov 26, 2020) was the Review Day for the last finished term at Exceed (Term 101). The last day of the term was the final exam day before yesterday (Wed, Nov 25, 2020). It is called (Review Day) because students at each class are given 30 minutes to sit with their teachers, revise their final exam performance, clarify any doubts with the teachers, check their overall performance, get their results, and finally receive their certificates and grade reports.
Therefore, when students do the exam on one day and then come the 2nd day for results, feedback and certificates, it is definitely amazing and outstanding for them. However, it’s extremely chaotic and hectic for Exceed’s admin and teachers because of the huge workload on the final exam day. Exceed does that because of the value that it provides: (Excellence in English Language Education).
Marketing Strategy and Products : The Product (Service) of Exceed
The Review Day is part of Exceed’s superior service or value mix. Thus, Exceed represents the value of excellence in English Language Education in its unique (Market Offering). It’s not simply a matter of putting students at classes and providing English teachers to them. Exceed’s market offering is a combination of products and services at different levels that aim to fulfill its promised value of excellence in English Language Education. The below figure shows the levels of different products (or services) that companies like Exceed provide.
Core Customer Value Level of Exceed’s Product (Service):
At Exceed, the levels of its products (services) aim to fulfill Exceed’s (Excellence) value of Language Education. Thus, the core customer value level satisfies the needs and wants of Yemeni customers with respect to English Language Education. Because of Exceed’s good understanding of the Yemeni market, it must fulfill the needs and wants of customers (students) in Yemen (Fig 1 below), which is the 1st step in the marketing process. Yemenis need to achieve various dreams in the personal, professional and societal level, such as travelling abroad for work or studies, communicating with others, learning about different cultures, improving their careers, getting new jobs or promotions, enhancing their personal projects etc. Thus, to fulfill these needs, Yemenis want English Language proficiency as a key skill to prosper their lives and achieve their goals. Here comes Exceed’s core customer value level in its product (service), which is fulfilling these needs and wants of outstanding English Language Education (Fig 2 below).
Actual Product (Service) Level of Exceed’s Product (Service):
To fulfill its core customer value, Exceed focuses on providing “conducive and comfortable learning environment” for English Language Learning (Fig 1 below). It starts with providing comfortable and well-equipped English classes, as well as highly professional, experienced and dedicated ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers (Fig 2 below). To complement classes, teachers and teaching, the outstanding learning environment of Exceed consists of several lingual, academic and recreational facilities that make students’ experience at Exceed enjoyable, fun and beneficial (Fig 3 below).
Marketing Strategy and Products – Augmented Product (Service) Level of Exceed’s Product (Service):
Superior value of excellence in English Language Education at Exceed doesn’t end at providing the best teachers, classes and learning environment. Students (customers) deserve extra care and passion. Thus, the Review Day explained before is part of Exceed’s Augmented Product Level. At a speedy and professional manner, Exceed gives students only one day to receive their feedback, results and certificates after they complete their final exams. Not only that, students get warranties that if there is anything wrong in their results or certificates, they have the right to get them modified and changed immediately on the same day. This unique care and touch from Exceed ensures that the institute exceeds customers or students expectations. This value, product and service of Exceed prove the direct and strong relation and importance of Exceed’s marketing strategy and products , as explained in the next section.
Marketing Strategy and Products : The Right Value for the Right Customer
Exceed has survived and sustained its superior value since its launch in Nov 2007 despite the extreme risks, dangers and obstacles that it went through due to the Yemeni unstable and problematic environment (2011 Revolution, 2015 War, COVID-19, etc.). Thus, Exceed’s product (service) is still in its (Maturity Stage) within the Products (Services) Life Cycle (Below Figure). Exceed will continue its journey of excellence in English Language Education as long as it maintains its good marketing practices, which include customer-value driven marketing strategies that provide the right value of superior English Education to the right customers (English learners in the Yemeni Marketplace).
Customer-Value Driven Marketing Strategy : (Who?) and (Why?)
Exceed should have a customer-value driven marketing strategy that answers two questions. The first one is: Who are the customers that we will serve and provide value to? while the 2nd one is: How will we serve and provide value to them? Answering the first question requires dividing the Yemeni market into small segments (Segmentation) and then deciding the number and nature of segments to serve (Targeting). After doing so, answering the 2nd question requires deciding on specific points of differences or qualities that make Exceed’s value superior compared to customers (Differentiation) and then choosing the points of differences to use for creating Exceed’s value mix or proposition (Positioning).
Who are the Customers? Segmentation & Targeting
As I explained before, Exceed has good understanding of and expertise in the Yemeni Marketplace and the needs and wants of Yemen in English Language Learning. However, Exceed can’t serve the whole Yemeni market, which includes Yemeni nationals and foreign residents in Yemen. Each individual in this marketplace has their own needs in life and special wants of English learning for these needs. English learners have different purposes from learning English. Thus, their want, which is the nature, type, price, way, method and so forth of English learning, does differ. For example, some Yemenis prefer to enroll in formal language training that is suitable to their status, income and characteristics, while others prefer informal training via self-learning or tutoring.
Therefore, Exceed must start with dividing the Yemeni marketplace to small segments (Segmentation) based on Exceed’s own nature and resources, as well as the characteristics of the segments (1st below figure). Exceed is one of the most powerful institutes in terms of tangible and intangible resources and assets, such as its capital, ownership, management team and teachers. Thus, to serve the right customers, Exceed has used various variables to segment the Yemeni Marketplace, which can be grouped in four groups of geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral variables. Companies like Exceed might use different variables or combination of several variables to reach the desired segmentation patterns and segments. After that, Exceed has decided the segments to serve depending on some favorable criteria, as well as its nature and resources (1st below figure). Exceed (Targeting) of segments include the number of segments and nature of these segments, as shown in the 2nd below figure. Geographically based in Sana’a Yemen, Exceed primarily targets vibrant, luxurious and young adults who seek acquiring proficiency in English language to fulfill their personal and professional dreams.
How to Serve the Customers (Segments)? Differentiation and Positioning
After choosing the number of segments to serve and selecting the preferred ones for targeting, Exceed must think of how to provide superior value to these customers and segments. The institute must decide on a superior and unique mixture of products, services or both (marketing offering) that represents outstanding value of English Language Education. This market offering must have at least one point that make it superior or special in a way that is much better than what the competitors do. We have covered this issue in the session of (Industry & Competitors Analysis) within our 2nd book (Entrepreneurship 2016) in the 1st Year’s Books Program. There are several characteristics for the points of differences that Exceed might take or might build on to create its own unique value in English Language education and learning, such as excellence of system, outstanding management and teaching team, amazing learning environment and so forth. The below figure shows the characteristics of the superior points of differences that companies can use in its value differentiation.
The most important factor in deciding the differences to promote is the analysis of the value provided by competitors. When Exceed was launched in Nov 2007, the first and most dominant direct competitor was the Yemen-America Language Institute (YALI), which has been in existence since 1975 (1st below figure). Thus, Exceed was in a difficult challenge to provide English Language Education value that surpassed YALI’s value mix and services in at least one point. However, Exceed had an advantage that eased this task. The entrepreneurs, owners, founders, teachers and managers who established Exceed and ran its operations during its first few years were mostly from YALI (2nd below figure). Thus, they were able to replicate the superior value that YALI provided and add extra points of differentiation to make Exceed’s value more superior than YALI. In my opinion, as an ex-student and graduate of YALI (Mar 2007) before Exceed’s existence and a current Exceed’s teacher, the only point of difference for Exceed that differentiated it from YALI was the superior and outstanding infrastructure and learning environment (3rd below figure). The learning environment at Exceed, which was explained and stated before, in terms of the facilities, recreation, labs, size, space, yards, and so forth are highly superior compared to YALI, whose buildings, classes, infrastructure and facilities are old and clumsy.
Despite these advantages for Exceed, it was not able to obtain YALI’s market share easily. During Exceed’s first months of operations, it had problems and difficulties in attracting YALI’s students. However, as long as Exceed gained popularity and positioned its value in the minds of customers (students), Exceed started getting more market share and became the best and premier institute in Yemen. Exceed has established its value mix or value proposition, which is presented in Exceed’s superior product (service) of excellence in English Language Education as explained before. To communicate and position this value proposition in the minds of customers, Exceed uses various tactics, such as its unique marketing slogan of (Exceeding Customers’ Expectations). Besides, posters that promote and advertise each new term at Exceed helps in positioning Exceed’s value, such as the below advertising poster of the next term at Exceed (No. 102).
As part of positioning, Exceed should decide on a value proposition strategy that has two dimensions: Benefits Provided and Price. As per the below figure, companies can use one of nine value proposition strategies. Five strategies are winning ones (green), while three are losing ones (red). The remaining strategy (the middle yellow one) is a neutral uncompetitive strategy, which I can call (imitating strategy). Companies using this strategy don’t have real value because they provide same benefits with the same price as competitors. For Exceed, the strategy is (More for More), which means more benefits for more price. By referring to the above figure that compares YALI and Exceed, you can notice that Exceed’s price is more than YALI and almost all English Language institutes in Yemen. Customers pay this high price to get more benefits from Exceed compared with other institutes, such as the points explained before about Exceed’s product (service).
Marketing Strategy and Products : End of Session
The superior marketing strategy and products of Exceed are direct reasons for its excellence in English Language Education and sustainability of success. Thus, Exceed has become synonymous with quality in English Language teaching and education. For the majority of learners in Yemen who seek outstanding language education, the first choice of them is to join the elite of Exceed Language Center.
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