Marketing mix is a management function linking the organization to its external environment. The linking or transaction occurs not only between customers and the organization, but also amongst the organization’s task environment. Kotler & Andreasen (2002) contend that in contrast to those who conceive of marketing largely in terms of communications strategies designed to change customers to fit the organization’s offering, sophisticated marketer’s view the marketing function as more diverse and the marketing objective as, above all, responding to customer needs and wants.
A diverse marketing program pays attention not only to communication but also to the nature of the offering, its cost to target audience members, and the channels through which it is made available. The true marketer’s mindset considers that it is the organization that must be willing to adapt its offering to the customer, and not vice versa. At National Pike Health Center (NPHC), this philosophy has been adopted. NPHC agrees that creativity is necessary for survival. All clients will not be able to molded into an already existing program.
Change agents must be readily able to view challenges to impacting positive change and adapting to a more flexible style of empowering. Generations change rapidly and what worked for one may not work for another. Staying informed is essential to staying at the forefront of empowerment. The pilot project focuses on educating families with options to achieving a better education for their children. The foundation of a good education, in which the children are stimulated and motivated to learn and to return to school, is priceless. The classroom is a microcosm of the world.
Survival of the academic arena dictates one’s future potential. Children were taught not to give up, but to discover alternative methods of locating valuable solutions. Kotler and Andreasen (2002) contend the marketing mix is the particular blend of controllable marketing variables that the firm uses to achieve its objective in the target market. There are many variables that create the marketing mix. They are classified into major groups including price, product, place, and promotion. The product was the delivery of the services to the consumers (target population).
The services were distributed within the context of the existing program through group sessions, accurate record keeping, and other client services. Fundamentally, customers acquire products for what these products can do for them. The change product helped show the environment the need for students who are able to succeed academically. According to Kotler and Andreasen (2002) a product is anything that can be offered in a tangible form to a market to satisfy a need. A tangible product can be described as having up to five characteristics: features, styling, quality level, packaging and a brand name.
The typical new offer has four stages that contribute to a product’s life cycle. These components are (1) introduction/product development – the design period, communication and distribution are the focus, (2) Growth/product evaluation-the period for observation, to establish patterns of sales/consumption, (3) Maturity/product modification – when research methods are designed to reinvigorate or to make the product more attractive, (4) Decline/product evaluation – the final component, a decrease in the ability of the product to advance the agency’s mission (Kotler & Andreasen, 2002).
The change project represented a modification, as the project was intended to complement the existing services available at National Pike Health Center. The above goals hope to remove deficiencies within the inadequate school programs by allowing the youngster an opportunity to welcome and embrace new learning styles and combat the forces set up against them to be confident and maintain a high level of self-esteem. To accomplish the goals, a coalition has been established to help resist the established plan for children who live below the poverty line to fail.
The children were shown that success is attainable. Parents were encouraged to learn of such methods to protect their child(ren) from academic failure which usually lasted for generations. The price is viewed as one of the precise elements of the marketing mix when the cost of development, distribution, delivery and consumption are viewed. The price to generate the desired product included the cost of the facility in which the program was operated out of. It also includes the entire budget to keep the facility running including leasing fees, electricity and phone costs, and weekly expenses.
The price also includes salaries paid to staff. NPHC has employed psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, transportation officers, administrative staff, as well as maintenance workers. NPHC has vehicles for the purpose of transporting clients, which must also be maintained properly. The place was the National Pike Health Center, a state-licensed outpatient mental health facility serving children and adolescents in the greater Baltimore area. The place serves as the central gathering location for the staff and consumers.
The use of media as a public relations tool serves as an integral component of the marketing strategy. Kotler and Andreasen (2002) argue that certain products play major roles in attracting patrons. These are called product leader with its innovative after-school program and parenting workshops. It garnered a multitude of publicity from the local schools as it promoted a positive response from the environment. Public relations was key in developing and exposing the organization. In August 2003, NPHC held a Back-To-School Kick Off in which free school supplies were given away in addition to free meals being served.
NPHC served a free meal including hot dogs, assorted chips, drinks, doughnuts, and cotton candy. The Moon Bounce ride was available for the children, also free of charge. By hosting a free outdoor event to address one of the needs of the community (school supplies), NPHC was able to use the event as marketing strategy to expose its business while obtaining the necessary client list to maintain a profiting business. The consideration for the total marketing mix is a prominent management issue for human services agencies as it allows the system to be open.
The open systems approach to marketing was actualized in the change project. An open system has interaction with its environment. It receives and passes matter and energy to and from the environment. It is necessary for NPHC to operate from an open systems approach with its task environment since many of the referrals come from various providers including the Department of Social Services, Department of Juvenile Services, Baltimore City Public Schools, and other mental health providers. Mix supporting and reinforcing its chosen competitive position is required.
If a school of academic excellence desires to maintain a reputation as having a high quality program, it must hire high-quality faculty, require students to take advanced courses, develop superior quality school brochures and catalogues, and distribute them among the potential students in search of this type of school. Thus, the marketing mix is not only vital to meeting the needs of the consumer, but also to assist the organization to prosper, succeed and ultimately survive. The life cycle of the product offered is eternal.
As long as the world exists, and as long as there are children, there will be a need for services to assist children. Unfortunately, there is a master plan to keep impoverished people oppressed. The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal, nor a myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion (Freire, 1993).
Change agents are the missing factor to exposing the attainment of freedom to all those who feel it has escaped them. Freedom can be obtained through education, resources, strategic programming, and customer-centered guidance. Strategic Planning Regardless of the category of product or proposed change, there has to be a strategy to introduce services. Once management believes that it has understood and internalized the customer-centered orientation, the next critical step in becoming an effective marketer is to develop a systematic process for actually doing marketing.
This process is referred to as Strategic Marketing Planning Process. Strategic planning provides the marketer with a discernment to be able to see ahead and to understand what is necessary for survival and to seize a strong competitive edge that will exist for some years into the future. Strategic planning incorporates an analysis of external environmental factors affecting an organization with a pragmatic assessment of the organizations internal operational capability. Strategic Marketing Planning Process is a set of steps one must take to decide what to do in any given marketing situation.
These steps are 1) determining organization-level missions, objectives, and goals; 2) assess external environmental threats and opportunities; 30 evaluate organizational strengths and weaknesses, past and present; 40 setting marketing mission, goals, and objectives; 5) formulate the core marketing strategy to achieve the specified goals; 6) set core marketing strategy; 7) establish programs and tactics to accomplish goals; 8) establish performance benchmarks; 9) implement the planned program; and, 10) assess performance, and adjust the core strategy and/or tactical details as needed.
The advantage the strategic planning methods affords organizations is in the overview that it provides of all the external variables that impact upon the organization- competitive, political, social, economic, regulatory, demographic, technological, ecological-that may adversely affect growth. The disadvantages of the strategic planning method involve cost and the level of skill required to make the system function effectively.
Through the maximum utilization of strategic planning, and organization can plan future growth in relation to its present market factors, and compare its present market position to its proposed market position (spatial efficacy). One of the most significant aspects of strategic planning is the organization’s awareness of the micro and macro systems of the environment. The micro system correlates to maintaining productive communication with the environment.
If an organization is an open system and the marketing function is properly located at the very highest level of the organization hierarchy, there should be continual interaction between marketing planning and organizational planning. Marketers must tell organizational planners what can or cannot be accomplished with respect to developed or chaning consumer markets. Also, organizational planners must tell marketers where, how and what they must do to meet the organization’s overall needs and plans. A goal should be a statement of an output and should represent the final consequence of an activity.
Prior to the development of the change project, the organization did not have a program in place to appropriately address the needs of the disadvantaged children. The following elements comprise the components of the strategic planning process: forecasting needs of the community which involved surveying the community; in an attempt to identify the needs of the community, observation of the quality of life was undertaken; and a review of the organization’s mission statement in order to evaluate whether or not the agency is providing quality services and if the services provided are contributory to the needs of the consumer.
National Pike Health Center obtained feedback from the families involved to evaluate the quality of services that it makes available to consumers. Peter Senge s believes that strategic planning must take place in the environment of a learning organization in which the mastery of certain basic disciplines are encouraged. The five that Peter Senge identifies are systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning (Senge, 1990). The systems viewpoint is oriented toward the long-term view.
That’s why feedback loops are so important. Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, or focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. It goes beyond competence and skills, although it involves them. People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. Personal mastery is a lifelong process and discipline.
Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, and images that influence how the world is understood. The discipline of mental models strats with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them to careful examination. If organizations are to develop a capacity to work with mental models then it will be necessary for people to learn new skills and develop new orientations, and for their to be institutional changes that foster such change (Senge, 1990).
Building shared vision encompasses sharing and inspiring organizations. When there is genuine vision, people excel and learn, because they want to. What has been lacking in many organizations is translating personal vision into shared vision. Visions spread because of a reinforcing process. Increased clarity, enthusiasm and commitment rub off on others in the organization. Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacities of a team to create the results its members truly desire. People need to be able to act together.
When teams learn together, members will grow more rapidly than could have otherwise (Senge, 1990). The strengths that exist in National Pike Health Center are the factors that has helped it to grow and remain a leader in the mental health industry. The strength factors include a caring management staff in touch with the people balanced with a business-oriented, customer-centered philosophy of operation. The staff is encouraged to maintain professional ethics at all times, while extending the therapeutic process in a non-traditional manner through mixing psychotherapy with educational attainment.
This is done through individual, family, and group therapy. This is also done through the psychiatric rehabilitation program, community advocates, school liaison, and counseling efforts. The weaknesses of NPHC are limited time to train the staff. Peter Senge stresses the importance of an organization being a learning organization. Through maximizing learning, an organization will always develop leaders. In a learning organization, leaders are designers, stewards, teachers.
They are responsible for building organizations where people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models. NPHC does not have enough leaders and the leadership burden is bared by a handful, whereas many have the potential to become leaders and take the company to the next level. The opportunities that are created by NPHC are endless. Once a child’s academic success is actualized, there are many more factors to address including higher education, consistent high grades, great attendance, employment, and also the opportunity to reach back and help others.
Opportunities in educating children and their families are endless. The threats that exist for NPHC come from the funding cource, MHP (Maryland Health Partners). MHP has now reduced its authorizations because of extreme budget cuts. Homeland Security operates from a multi-billion dollar budget, while services being provided to youth are cut everyday. The allotted time to work with the needy youngsters have been reduced drastically, which makes impacting positive change difficult.
NPHC must become more creative to discover alternative methods of empowering children and adolescents academically. The thesis of conquering low academic achievement in low socioeconomic children helps NPHC intensely. NPHC is currently using psychotherapy to reduce the symptoms associated with the various diagnoses including ADHD, ODD, Conduct Disorder, etc. The project to inform the families of their alternatives improves customer relations and also provides high success rates in addition to noticeable improvement in the community.
NPHC can continue to capitalize on their strengths of providing a standard of quality and excellence. As stated, the opportunities are endless and without boundaries. NPHC can continue to operate as an open system and affect its task environment with positive interactions and connections. The threats of reduced funding can be addressed on an individual basis in which NPHC can show the success of its program and request additional authorizations to continue affecting positive change in the community.