Weddings Events and More E-Business Plan

Weddings, Events, & Beyond E-Business Plan Mary Weathersby Capella University May 15, 2011 I. Company Description Weddings Events & Beyond opened our doors in May of 2002 as a partnership. We have been continually expanding and now are a large firm with six full time planners, six assistants, four full time Accounting and Finance employees, two full time Human Resources employees, my partner, and myself. At this time we have a website that gives examples of our event planning capabilities with some pictures of events we have planned.
We have decided to take the next step and implement a more advanced site where our customers can see the stages of their event as it is planned. It is our goal to allow the customer to log into our site at anytime and see what the plans for their event are and request changes if it is their wish. We would also like to implement a Secure Socket Layer so that our customers can pay their account on-line. Making our company more accessible through use of the Internet will help us to expand to the outlying areas that before now were more difficult to reach.
The business model that Weddings Events & Beyond is striving to become with the Internet site is that of a “multi-channel merchant” or “bricks and clicks” merchant. This is the type of firm that has both a physical store, as the primary channel of income, and is introducing an online service. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 595) II. Marketing Plan Internet marketing is a little bit more complex than regular marketing in that we as a firm will have to show that we have the capability to develop a more positive and long term relationship with our customers. Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 362) We must develop a marketing plan which brings in all ranges on new customers from the bride and groom and their guests all the way to the business whose events we will be planning. We will be planning to show the consumer our unique qualities and capabilities such as the fact that every step of the planning of their event will be available for them to view on our site. This will require opening an account for each customer where they can log on to receive the most up to date work done on their event planning.

This will also allow them to request changes until the closing date of their event. The following categories will be included in our marketing plan: A. Target Audience 1. Customer characteristics: We as a firm will be targeting the bride, the groom, and their families for the weddings and for the events we will be targeting the business community and upper to middle class families who normally do not have the time to plan and organize their special events. 2. Age demographic: Will be adults from the 20-50 year range. 3. Customer geographic: At this time we service only the state of Arizona.
We travel all over the state as needed by where the event is being held. After implementation of e-business we will be targeting the states of California and Nevada as well. Eventually with expansion we plan to cover major cities across the US. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 345 – p. 367) B. SWOT analysis (strengths weakness opportunities threats) 1. Strengths: One of the main strengths we possess is that we are one of only four companies in our area that plans Weddings and Events. We will be the first among the four that will be making a more immediate Internet presence.
Making use of our services through the Internet will make us more accessible and give us a wider reach for customer than any other firm. We are the most established firm having been in the business making a name for ourselves for the longest period of time. Our planners have at least an associate’s degree in planning. They have been planners for a minimum of three years and have strong customer service skills. 2. Weakness: At this time we have no planners trained in e-business as will be take approximately four weeks to accomplish.
We are right now in only the state of Arizona, but with the implementation of our e-business we plan to expand to cover California and Nevada. In order to do this we will need more planners and assistants. Hiring new people means we need to start training in all areas of our business including e-business models. This training will take time and resources to accomplish. We will also begin competing with other firms located in California and Nevada. These competitors will be listed in the competitive analysis portion of this plan. 3.
Opportunities: We are convinced that the opportunity for the firm with the implementation of an e-business presence is great. Being the first firm to make ourselves more accessible to people on the go gives us a greater advantage over our competitors. The implementation of our e-business will allow us to reach outside of Arizona. This will eventually help in leading to country wide expansion. We will be able to advertise our business on affiliate sites such as Invitation sites, bridal dress sites, catering sites, and bridal registry sites.
With the implementation of Internet marketing through ads, social networking, and search engine optimization we will be able to open up a market that was before now closed to us. 4. Threats: In becoming an e-business we will be implementing both a CRM plan and an ERP plan. We will now be competing with other Event Planners through Internet channels. Occasions, is just one of the other firms that we will be competing with. This firm is introducing a software program that helps the customer plan their own special event.
We will need to convince these customers that using our firm will give them better results and free up their valuable time. We will be incurring larger travel expenses as well as payroll increase. If our e-business plan does not show a profit in the next 24-36 months we could lose both the e-business and our “bricks and mortar” store. We would have a harder time compensating for the losses. The price of implementing these new e-business models will be substantial and if our new Internet site does not bring in the expected increase in business it would be very hard to pay off these expenses.
We will need to make sure that we are optimizing our Implementation of the Website through, search engine keywords and other Internet sites that would bring the consumer back to our site with as few clicks as possible. To decrease the threat of our competitors we will need to stay on our toes and keep our website updated as well as making sure that we are ready for anything. C. Competitive analysis: The leading competitors in our field are: TLC Wedding Consultants, which is at this time a two man operation which deals exclusively with weddings and holy communions. Occasions, this is a newly formed Event planner whose main ervice is a software program that helps the customer to plan their own events. Specialty Events, this is a three party team that organizes business events exclusively. This company plans seminars and company parties. They have not at this time branched out to work any other events. Competitors brought in to play by our expansion into an e-business will include new business in Nevada and California. Weddings by Nancy, is a firm out of Nevada who have been around approximately three years. They have a site that shows pictures of weddings they have planned and gives contact information for their store.
At this time they are strictly a “bricks and mortar” firm. Their information website is ranked fourth in the search engine ranking. Events for Every Occasion is out of Nevada. They have three trained planners. Their website gives information about the types of events they plan as well as pictures and has reviews from previous customers. This site is currently ranked second in search engine results. Anywhere Anytime Events is a full service firm of three planners working in California. This firm has no website at this time. They do have newspaper and television ads and a client base of about six regular firms that they plan events for.
California Event Planners is full service firm with a website that has customer reviews, photos, and contact information. They ask for permission to e-mail visitors to their site, they are at this time ranked number one in search engine results. This is the site we need to bump and take over in search engine results. Our firm, Weddings Events & Beyond, is the only full service planner in a 100 mile area. We are the largest firm and will be the first to become a major presence on the Internet offering to allow customers access to their planning results 24 hours a day. D.
Marketing Strategy 1. Promotion: We will be promoting our firm through Social Networking on both Facebook. com and MySpace. com. It is our intention to put our name and services on the websites that reach the largest population possible through as many internet sites as possible. Social networks are one of the most used ways of communication with others. Facebook. com logged over 300 million members worldwide in September of 2009 and had 92 million unique visitors while MySpace. com logged 130 million members worldwide with over 64 million unique visitors. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 21) Promoting our name and services on these two social networks would help us reach a significantly larger audience that any of our competitors. We will also be using the services of Search Engine Optimization to help us use the right key words to make sure we are accessible to the customers looking for wedding and event planners. In order for the customer to find us using a search on the Internet we need to be able to be located by search engines. Through the use of Search Engine Optimization we will know the appropriate terms for use in order to be more easily found.
Using this service will also help to ensure that we are linked to other sites that will put us closer to the top of search results. (SEOmoz) 2. Advertising: We will be adding a new form of advertising to help us with moving into the new e-business market. In addition to our usual advertising of yellow page and newspaper ads we will also begin Internet marketing. We will be using two forms of Internet marketing: “Viral Marketing” which is the “process of getting customers to pass along a company’s marketing message to friends, family, and colleagues, which is the online version of word of mouth. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 390) This type will help get our name out there faster than in the real world. The second form of Internet advertising we will be using is that of “direct e-mail marketing”. This type of marketing is highly effective. We will be sending e-mails to a group of Internet users who have shown interest in our services at one time or another. With this kind of advertising we would send out regular e-mails to people who have pulled up our website and asked to receive e-mails from us. The customer would then have to “opt-out” to stop receiving the e-mails. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 43) This form of advertising is a mix of both on-line and off-line marketing since we will be using both the printed off-line version as well as having Internet advertising. 3. Public relations: Both through word of mouth and viral marketing we will be working on our public image helping to increase our public relations. As long as we stay true to our word and keep our customers happy this should not be a problem. III. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Customer relationship management (CRM) is the repository of customer information it will record and save all contacts a customer or prospective customer makes with our firm.
This plan will also generate the customers profile from what they initially gave us upon entering our site through what categories they view concerning interest in types of events. There will also b e features that are possible for the event. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p356) This is how we will know what our customer is interested in and give a general idea of their price limitations so that an initial plan can begin being implemented. The touch points that we will be using are: telephone network, Internet, mail & fax, staff contact, and our sales force.
As part of our Internet touch point we will be asking visitors to our site for personal information and permission to e-mail them. We will be collecting data through sites that deal with all aspects of weddings and other events as well as sites that deal with bridal registry sites, incitation engraving sites, and visits to our facebook and MySpace sites. 1. Map of customers relationship with the firm. This will let us know how we got this customer as well as this customer’s preferences and if they refer any new customers. We will also be keeping a log of emails and phone conversations with customers throughout the planning of their event. . Product and usage summary. This will let us know which of our services each customer is looking for and how often they return to us to help plan other events. 3. Profitability measures. This will let us know how well our Internet advertising is doing and if it is bringing in new customers. 4. Contact history. This will be summarizing the customers contact with the firm across delivery channels such as Internet and hard copy advertising. 5. E-mail company responses. This will help us to know how our email advertising is doing and how many people have come to our site and signed up for email from us.
IV. Architecture plan Weddings Events & Beyond will require a multi-tier architecture plan. Since we already have a web page which lists our services and how to contact us we will need to build on this site to include, customer contact information, plans for events, security for customer payment of services, email integration which will allow customers to correspond with their planner, and a section that will allow employees to communicate with each other concerning finance, human resources, and management communication within the firm.
This will require us to outsource to another company to produce the necessary hardware components. We will be implementing the following components: 1. An e-commerce website that will be hosted by NetSuite. com allowing us to scale our business with an application that ties the business together across E-commerce, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Customer Relations Management, Financials, and Human Resources. This website will expanded to help track customer contact, customer event plans, customer e-mail capabilities, a Secure Socket Layer for customer payments, and employee communication capabilities. . New staff that will be in charge of maintaining this system as well as training staff on the new system. At this time we estimate that we will need two to three new employees that will do this. 3. New equipment and software to facilitate e-business. The new equipment will be computer systems that will be networked and implemented with the modules for our e-business expansion. The software will also be for working with all NetSuite models including ERP, CRM, and SCM, Competitive Vision, our competitive tracking firm, and BPIR our new benchmarking partners.
V. Enterprise Resource Plan (ERP) The ERP plan that we will be implementing will make access to financial data and all aspects of the Human Resources Department easier for our staff. This will allow the staff to run credit information on prospective clients as well as work up account information so our finance department can accurately prepare invoices, spreadsheets, and all other accounting data. This will also allow planners to input their own expense reports for quicker calculations.
The Human Resources applications of the new system will make it easier for staff to check their time sheets, medical coverage, 401k, vacation and sick day’s status, and commission status. This should cut down on the amount of time needed by that department to do this for each staff member. The implementation of these two systems will also make it easier for management to review all of this data without the need of printing multiple reports freeing up the time needed for this from all departments. VI. Supply Chain Management (SCM) The scope of our SCM needs at this time is limited to information and inancials. We will be working with NetSuite in this area as well, to maintain integrity with our other systems. We are a service organization that helps our customers decide and plan the aspects of their special event. We work closely with caterers, floral designers, Churches and reception halls. We do not make deposits or pay for any of these things. However, we do keep tabs on what stage of planning these services are at, in order to keep the customer up to date but at the same time not bogged down by all these companies calling them. (Laudon & Traver 2010 p. 77 1. Information chain: We will need to maintain customer information so that we can keep up to date information on our site for each customer. The information we will need concerning the customer is: A. Name B. Billing address C. Telephone number D. E-mail address E. Vender Preferences (so we know who we will be working with) 2. Vender information chain: We will also need to maintain information on all the vendors that we work with as well as full descriptions of what each vendor offers. The information we need from each vendor is: A.
Name B. Address C. E-mail or website D. Telephone number We need to have this vendor information so that the customer knows what each one offers and can save the time it takes to call around looking for the right vendor. This will help to narrow the choices thus making it easier on the customer. The knowledge of what each vendor offers is crucial in helping to save time for our customers. We would also like to add links for the different vendors to our site so that the customer can shop around from our site in as few clicks as possible.
In return the venders would also have a link to our site posted on theirs. 3. Financial flow: For this area we will need to make it possible to maintain the customer’s credit card number and verification code. This will also make it possible to help our customer even further by allowing us to keep records of what the customer wants from each vendor and verify payments have been made. VII. Competitive Tracking (Knowledge Management) We have found that there is a need to implement a program for competitive tracking in order to better understand our business environment.
The information that will be gained from a competitive tracking system will help us in making key business decisions for the entire firm. In order for us to remain competitive with other planning firms we need to understand what they are doing, (Competitive Vision 2011) We have decided that it would serve our interests best at this time to get a software program through Competitive Vision. This program is a web based competitive intelligence solution offering as easy way to collect, organize, and evaluate competitive information.
Some of the benefits of implementing this software would be: * Better understanding of our competitive landscape * Enhancing our strategic planning process * Facilitating more effective information sharing among our shareholders * Lowering costs related to the competitive intelligence effort. Through this software we will be able to view competitive information in an SWOT business model. We will be able to create industry and competitor profiles. The competitive tracking information will be consolidated for easier understanding and be managed in real time. The cost of this software program will be $ 500. 0 per month for the first five users. As we continue to expand into other cities across the United States we will be able to expand our user base at which time our monthly fee would go up to compensate for those additions. Implementing this competitive Intelligence software will take the guesswork out of finding out what our competitors are doing. VIII> Benchmarking. Benchmarking will be in partnership with BPIR (Business Performance Improvement Resource) which is a firm that helps in the process of finding how to improve our company’s performance standards and researches the performance standards of our competition.
We want to keep a customer service rating of 100% satisfaction and a performance rating of 95% and higher. This is our current level as we make the plans for implementing our e-business. The changes that are going to be happening over the next 8-12 months should no cost us the satisfaction of our customers. Through BPIR we will be conducting a quarterly review in the following areas: 1. Best Practices which are the practices that are known to produce the highest results. 2. Performance Measures which is a periodic review to see whether our staff is performing at their peak. 3.
Self Assessment which is an assessment each employee takes showing how well they think they are doing 4. Competitor Analysis which is a system that helps to show how our competitors are doing and what level their benchmarking is at. 5. Website reviews which is how we will determine how effective our website is and where we rank in search results. This will help us to make sure that we are able to continue being the first choice of our prospective customers. IX. Conclusion. As you can see there are quite a few things that will be changing once we break into the world of e-business.
We are looking forward to the time when this implementation and training process are completed. As it is we have a long hard road ahead of us. But, taking our “bricks and mortar” firm to a “bricks and clicks” firm will be step in the direction of progress which every firm must go through eventually. This is a large step but one we must take if we are to stay ahead of our competitors. This type of business model fall under the description of an e-tailer, meaning we have a regular firm with an Internet website that handles the Internet side of our business. Our website will be based on a sales revenue model. (Laudon &Traver 2010 p. 8 & 70) The implementation plan we have outlined will have an economic impact on the business because the initial cost of implementing the ERP, SCM, and CRM will be expensive. We estimate total cost of core services to be in the price range of $ 100,000 dollars. This includes the website development and hosting. The cost of competitive tracking and benchmarking will be separate as well as the man hours that it will take our people to become trained. The cost of competitive tracking will be $500 dollars per month through Competitive Vision. The benchmarking will be approximately $500 dollars through BPIR ever quarter.
The risks we take in this are that we would be putting all this money out to become an e-business and there are never any guarantees that we will be successful. By implementing our e-business we will be mortgaging our current business model but, this would be the case with any kind of expansion process. The benefits of this plan are that we would be able to reach a larger customer base and begin servicing California and Nevada before moving into those areas full scale with a new store and new employees. Future forces that would affect us would be if any of our competitors also implement this same idea.
We are looking at this happening in the next five years but we plan to be well ahead of the game by that time. This plan at the onset will mean more work for our management staff but once it is fully implemented and our people are fully trained they will be able to do twice as much work in half the time. This will free up more time to give our staff the necessary evaluations to verify they are doing their jobs right. As you have seen every member of the firm will need to be trained in the new systems and we will need to hire new employees who have the necessary e-business knowledge to help us succeed.
The final thing we need to include here are the timelines for implementation and training. The implementation is estimated to take between six and eight months. Executive training will begin around two months before completion and be accomplished in three hour increments, three times a week for four weeks. This is so that we will be ready when full implementation is accomplished. Staff training will begin one month prior to completion and will be done in three hour increments twice a week for four weeks ending on or around the completion date.
X. References Laudon, K. C. , & Traver, C. G. (2010). E-commerce: business, technology, society. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Prentice Hall. SeOmoz. (n. d. ) The beginners guide to SEO. Retrieved April 15, 2011 from http://www. guides. seomoz. org . Competitive Vision. (n. d. ) Retrieved June 1, 2011 from http://www. competitivevision. com BPIR (n. d. ) Business Performance Improvement Resource. Retrieved June 3, 2011 from http://bpir. com NetSuite (n. d. ) Retrieved on May 24, 2011 from http://www. netsuite. com

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