Marketing or Real-Time Surveillance?
In the month after a notorious American Internet ad company revealed that it was meshing online and offline databases to send targeted advertisements,
the company was hit with a formal inquiry, investigations by two states, six lawsuits, and reams of bad press.
Privacy advocates are in an uproar over the notion that a company that most consumers have never even heard of, can track them online, and share that information with businesses that can then hit them with direct mail, telemarketing, and targeted Web ads.
A Web technology that indicates sites visited, and that claims to send out more than one billion ads a day, is a very attractive option for marketers.
Adding offline data to the mix makes it that much more powerful. Is this marketing - or real-time surveillance? You decide.
A marketing plan encapsulates your current definition of your product or service, an assessment of the competitive nature of your industry and of the market segments that you are targeting, a plan for promoting your product or service to these market segments, a
mapping of distribution channels for delivering your product or service, and methods for evaluating how well you are doing on your plans. Since the marketing plan is a document with a straightforward structure, there are many software packages
available to help you organize the document. However, as is typical with most plans, the structure of the document is the least problematic part of the endeavor. Writing the plan is only a small piece of the entire process.
It is the background research and creative thinking that is essential to building a credible and useful plan. In the final section of this chapter, we will discuss some of the software packages available for supporting your marketing plan development.
Most of this chapter will provide guidelines for the background work that will take up most of your effort in developing your plan.