Simplistic Labyrinth will target their different market segments with a three-pronged approach:
- Outdoor industry trade shows: typically occur two times a year in different locations. These trade shows are quite extensive, they have retailers, manufacturers, designers, wholesalers as well as the media. The who's who can always be found at these trade shows. Attendance/display booths are by far the best way to network and gain business in this industry.
- Advertisements in industry journals: another targeted method of reaching the desired audience. In this case, only industry personnel have access to subscriptions so the audience is very targeted.
- Website: will be used to advertise the company. Previous designs as well as service offerings will be listed on the page. The Web page allows companies that are geographically far away to be able to see past designs and learn more about Simplistic Labyrinth.
- Advertisements in entrepreneur magazines: will be used to reach the market segments of entrepreneurs who are not necessarily in the outdoor industry but have an idea and would like it prototyped or have money to buy a design created by Simplistic Labyrinth and will then take care of the manufacturing and marketing somehow.
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Simplistic Labyrinth Design Studio's mission is to provide cutting edge designs to be licensed by manufacturers. We exist to attract and maintain customers. When we adhere to this maxim, everything else will fall into place. Our services will exceed the expectations of our customers.
- Generate a 20% increase of repeat customers each year.
- Generate brand awareness, tested by an increase of company recognition at the different industry trade shows.
- Increase the number of unsolicited projects by 15% each quarter.
- Achieve a double digit growth rate for the first five years.
- Reduce the labor hours associated with a common project through gains of operating efficiency.
- Reach profitability by the end of year one.
Simplistic Labyrinth's customers can be divided into two different groups:
- Manufacturers who are looking to sell a specific design and either do not have a design facility in-house, or are in need of the design quicker than their in-house staff can offer.
- Entrepreneurs who will license the design and then shop it around to different manufacturers.
The majority of the business will be with the first group. It is not unusual for a manufacturer to look outside of their company to have a prototype made. There are many companies that are considered manufacturers yet they do not even make any of their products, they farm that work out to subcontractors. They will also farm out the design and prototyping work as a cost saving measure against large overhead charges.
Some of the market does consist of entrepreneurs who will license a design and then shop it around to different manufacturers, often overseas to have the product mass produced. Sometimes they will be responsible for the distribution and marketing of the product, sometimes they will sell the license to their customer.
Simplistic Labyrinth will position themselves as a flexible, comprehensive outdoor product design studio. Simplistic will leverage their competitive advantages to achieve their desired position.
Simplistic Labyrinth's competitive edges are imagination and expertise:
- Imagination. Since Ikan was initially self taught in his sewing and design work, he was not limited by the "traditional" techniques of construction. This allows Ikan to "think out of the box," meaning that he is able to come up with creative solutions to typical design constraints. Ikan is able to approach a project from a multitude of angles, from a cost benefit analysis, ultimate features, and extreme durability (Ikan's specialty). This versatility based on imagination is certainly a competitive advantage.
- Expertise. Ikan has been designing for over five years. As stated before, Ikan was initially self taught. After purchasing a sewing machine at a thrift store, he started to experiment. After getting fairly proficient Ikan interned at Wy'East Fabrics, a prototyper of jackets, tents, expedition tarps, bivy sacks and packs. Ikan also worked for Watershed, a custom manufacturer of Gore-Tex rain wear for search and rescue teams, police, fire units, etc. This diverse experience has given Ikan the necessary skills and experience to design a multitude of products.
The single objective is to position Simplistic as the premier outdoor product design studio, increasing their market share every year. The marketing strategy will seek to first create customer awareness regarding the services offered, develop the customer base, and work toward building customer loyalty.
The message that Simplistic seeks to communicate is that Simplistic Labyrinth can fulfill any design request. This message will be communicated through a variety of different methods. The first will be advertisements, both in entrepreneur magazines as well as outdoor industry journals. Another method of communication will be setting up a booth at larger industry trade shows.
Lastly, Simplistic Labyrinth will have a comprehensive website which will detail Simplistic's expertise, past projects, and other useful information.
Simplistic's marketing mix is comprised of the following approaches to pricing, distribution, advertising and promotion, and customer service.
- Pricing. Simplistic's pricing scheme will be based on a per project estimate, as well as a negotiated license agreement when applicable.
- Distribution. While Simplistic will have a store front in Portland, they can distribute their product both nationally or internationally, depending on the customer's needs.
- Advertising and Promotion. The most successful promotion will be a combination of advertisements, participation in industry trade shows, and a comprehensive website.
- Customer Service. Obsessive customer service is the mantra. Simplistic's philosophy is whatever needs to be done to make the customer happy must occur, even at the expense of short-term profits. In the long term, this investment will pay off with a fiercely loyal customer base.
During the initial phase of the business plan development, several focus groups were held to gain insight into a variety of outdoor product manufacturers. These focus groups provided helpful insight into their decision making processes.
An additional source of dynamic market research is a feedback mechanism based on a suggestion card system. The suggestion card system has several statements that customers are asked to rate in terms of a given scale. There are also several open-ended questions that allow the customer to freely offer constructive criticism or praise. Simplistic will work hard to implement reasonable suggestions in order to improve their service offerings as well as show their commitment to the customer that their suggestions are valued.
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