Merger & Acquisition Case Study – IBM / Lenovo

When reviewing a merger and acquisition that’s on the docket, it’s important to consider what the changes are and how it will affect both companies as they combine.  To give yourself a good starting point, ask the below questions:

Introduction:

  • Most mergers and acquisitions fail. Why?
  • Background information on IBM and Lenovo.

The Change: Merger and Acquisition

  • The drivers of change: What was the reason for the change?
  • Why did IBM sell?
  • Why did Lenovo buy?
    • Benefits and costs to each company
    • Perspective of each company (in looking at a potential change)
    • Objectives of the change
    • The actual deal that was made
  • Strategic issues the two companies face as a result of the change: e.g. cultural differences between a Chinese company and an American company.
    • What measures, if any, were taken to deal with these issues?
    • How effective were the measures?
  • Any resistance from stakeholders? Who? Why? How was it dealt with?
  • Measurements and evaluations of the results (as compared to the objectives of the deal)
    • How were the results measured by the companies?
  • Based on the analysis, was the merger and acquisition successful?

Recommendations

  • What should have been done differently (Change frameworks can be applied throughout this section as we compare what the companies did and what they should have done)
    • Before the change took place
      • Develop and communicate a vision
      • Develop a guiding coalition
      • Keep employees up-to-date with information and changes (engage them and encourage participation)
    • During the change
      • Continue communication
      • Move employees from resistance to support
        • Address employee problems with change as they occur
      • As they reach the change goal
        • Celebrate small wins
        • Emphasize culture of continuous improvement
        • Refreeze new behaviors
        • Continue addressing resistance
      • After the change
        • Measurement of effectiveness
          • What information to collect (sales numbers, employee satisfaction, employee turnover, etc.)
          • When to collect
          • How to collect
          • Analyze data
        • What can be done now (since we can’t change the past)

Conclusion:

  • Why the change was successful or why it failed
  • Summarize recommendations for what can be done now

The HR issues in the merger and acquisition process

What the issues are and how the organizations handled them, and how they fall within change management frameworks.

  • What is the role of HR and HR strategy in this this process. How can HR increase the success rate?
  • Knowledge and skills that a change agent needs to have.
  • Suggestions for the type of preparation/training HR group should have prior to the transaction.
  • What support should be provided?

Mergers and acquisitions are tough, so it’s smart to prepare for the change by considering the above questions to get ready for it and plan in advance.

DrinkTabs: Marketing Plan & SWOT Analysis

Executive Summary

Do you remember back in college when you shared a class with a person that you had never spoken with, only to run into them later on at a bar where you suddenly become best friends?  This is the familiarity level we’re trying to establish with DrinkTabs – a social media network that brings urban communities together through the use of live forums, a personalized video user-profiles and drinking deals at hotspots. In a mobile age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to break-the-ice at bars and to meet new people. DrinkTabs attempts to narrow this gap by bringing people together at local hotspots by linking similar interests, and advertising bar food, drink specials, and special events. This program will run as a smart-phone application and webpage, functioning as a digital neighborhood where community members can create virtual profiles. Users can then RSVP to any included digital bar avatar, post a discussion topic at bar forum, or engage in a live chat. These discussion topics can be anything – books, sports, movies, crafts, whatever.  The DrinkTabs application is designed to allow for recognition, where a person knows you from your profile, knows that you don’t mind being approached, and knows that you have a particular interest that you can both share.  At the same time, a simple click of the bar avatar can instantaneously inform you of food and drink specials so you can better plan your night.

The primary target market for this application will be young, urban professionals. Due to their professional employment status, these individuals typically have busy workweeks, affording them less time and fewer opportunities to meet new people and make friends outside of their work environment. The target market must also be somewhat affluent because the use of this application requires a smart-phone, and the functionality of the application assumes that the consumer can go out at night with a disposable income.

The campaigning for this application will integrate viral media advertising in addition to launching events at local bars. The largest challenge DrinkTabs will face is gaining interest from local bars, followed by generating the interest of our target market.  Initial test sites will be geographically defined urban neighborhoods like Allston-Brighton (Boston), Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and Center Square (Albany).  The fact that DrinkTabs is a young product affords us the ability to use creative marketing strategies and launch parties that may appeal to a trendier crowd, such as our target market.  Social networking applications are in very high demand, as demonstrated by two of our competitors, Foursquare and SCVNGR.  However, a smart-phone application does not currently exist where the sole function is for meeting people at bars.

With the rapid increase in social media and its usage over the past five to ten years, privacy has become less of a social norm as people share increasing amounts of personal information over the web.  Also fueled by social media is the increasing likelihood that people will resort to a web application for interaction instead of speaking face-to-face with one another.  Approaching people in social settings has been made to seem difficult and irregular.  Therefore, DrinkTabs is perfect for those individuals who need to be “plugged in” in order to communicate.  Strangely enough, our generation is one that has become reserved in social settings, unwilling to make new friends unless there is a digital screen granting them permission.  DrinkTabs will give people the green-light to say hello and start a conversation.  CA John’s Consulting presents the data:

 

Table of Contents

2.0 Situational Analysis 2

2.1 Market Summary. 2

2.1.1 Market Demographics 2

2.1.2. Market Needs 2

2.1.3 Market Trends 2

2.1.4 Market Growth. 2

2.2 SWOT Analysis 2

2.2.1 Strengths 2

2.2.2 Weaknesses 2

2.2.3 Opportunities 2

2.2.4 Threats 2

2.3 Competition. 2

2.4 Product Offering. 2

2.5 Keys to Success 2

2.6 Critical Issues 2

3.0 Marketing Strategy. 2

3.1 Mission. 2

3.2 Marketing Objective. 2

3.3 Financial Objectives 2

3.4 Target Markets 2

3.5 Positioning. 2

3.6 Strategies 2

3.7 Marketing Mix. 2

3.8 Marketing Research. 2

4.0 Financials 2

4.1 Revenue Projection. 2

4.2 Break-Even Analysis 2

4.3 Expense Forecast 2

5.0 Controls 2

5.1 Implementation. 2

5.2 Marketing Organization. 2

5.3 Contingency Planning. 2

Appendix 2

2.0 Situational Analysis

In the current social networking media application space, there are several competitors that offer friend-finding services or geo-location function. However, an application that ties both of these aspects in with a bar specific nightlife niche has yet to be explored. 2011 is an opportune time to enter the application market because over 1/3 of cellular device users own smart-phones and utilize smart-phone applications. In addition, the market dominating, social giants like Facebook and Myspace are facing a detractor problem, where smaller, trendier applications like Foursquare are being considered the hip alternative. DrinkTabs can take advantage of this marketing opportunity, but brand awareness will be critical. The DrinkTabs launch will focus on creating a high quality experience with limited test groups to establish a cluster preference before it reaches a mass audience.

2.1 Market Summary

DrinkTabs is entering a space that is still emerging and therefore extensive information regarding the social media application market simply does not exist. However, all technology trends suggest that this is a growing segment with basic statistics about mobile phone usage and number of users across various platforms supporting this valuation hypothesis.

Target Market

(Must fit both criterion)

Beverage, Alcohol Sector

Smart-phone Market

2.1.1 Market Demographics

The profile for the typical DrinkTabs customer consists of the following geographic, demographic, and behavioral factors:

Geographics

  • DrinkTabs geographic target will initially focus on several trendy, young, urban neighborhoods on the east coast with a vibrant bar culture.
  • After year 1, DrinkTabs anticipates expansion to several additional sites across the US.
  • The initial targeted population within 1 year of launch date is 100,000 users.

Demographics

  • There is an almost equal ratio between male and female users.
  • Our largest demographic is anticipated to be in the Generation Y age group of 25-34 with an estimated 50% of our user base. The next biggest age grouping will be Generation X, spanning from 35-44 and hosting approximately 35% of our clientele. The College Group, age 18-24, will be a smaller portion of around 10%. Lastly, anybody over 45 will fill in the remaining 5%.
  • We anticipate that the majority of our users will have a bachelor’s degree or at least some college coursework.
  • About 35% of our users make between $25,000 and $49,999 annually. An additional 40% fall into the $50,000 to $99,999 per year category.

Behavior Factors

  • Users are looking to build neighborhood relationships and have a strong sense of community.
  • Users are saturated with social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and are looking for more face-to-face interactions.
  • Users are familiar with current affairs, sports and/or popular culture. They are avid readers of blogs, have a strong aptitude for technology and are looking to socialize with familiar faces about the topics they have interest in.

2.1.2. Market Needs

DrinkTabs is providing the young, urban community with a hip new service that will be trendy yet functional.  As a company, we recognize that social networking applications and geo-location websites have nearly saturated the market, causing consumers to feel oppressed and indecisive; there seems to be too much selection and not enough utility among the various applications. Therefore, DrinkTabs will set itself apart by carefully evaluating service offerings and providing exceptional benefits to enhance its value proposition:

  • User Friendly Interface. We envision our interface to a simple point-and-click viewing window that customers can operate even after consuming a couple of adult beverages.
  • Customer Service. Exemplary service is required to build a sustainable business that maintains a loyal customer base. Considering that our service is completely reliant on the customer experience, we must ensure the satisfaction and happiness of our customers by evaluating feedback and investing money into activities that will get people into bars and using our service.

2.1.3 Market Trends

The social media landscape exemplified by applications like Facebook, Foursquare, and LinkedIn have been enjoying a rapid increase in use over the past five years as reflected in market trends.

DrinkTabs will provide:

  • An easy way to meet people who share similar interests
  • A user-customized profile to capture the uniqueness of the individual
  • Digital avatars representing local bars
  • An updated list of food and drink specials at each bar
  • An list of special events at each bar
  • A digital location tracker showing which bars the user’s friends are at (assuming the friends have DrinkTabs profiles)
  • Responsive customer service whose focus is giving the user the best possible experience

Privacy

Privacy is one of the social norms in our society that is evolving.  As people continue to use and be exposed to social media, they become more comfortable sharing personal information. There will be features inherent in the user interface that will give customers certain levels of control over their private information as well a security feature that asks permission before friends can be added to a user’s network.

Difficulty of the Approach

Years ago, men and women approached each other with greater ease then they do today. The social media of this generation has strongly influenced public perceptions about approaching people by overemphasizing both the gender roles of men and women and the importance of the approach.  By continuing to create a public perception that approaching a stranger is taboo, social media is inadvertently becoming the preferred method of communication for the younger generation.

Time Spent on Social Media

According to The Nielsen Company, global consumers spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook in December of 2009 (Global Web Traffic to Social Networking Sites).  This represents an 82% increase from December 2008 in which users were spending just over three hours on social networking sites. Furthermore, the overall traffic to social networking sites has been growing at three times the rate of overall Internet growth.

Interactive Marketing Expenditures

Recent studies have shown that marketing expenditures have recovered since the global economic crisis and are forecasted to continue to grow through 2014. What really bodes well for DrinkTabs is the projected increase in spending in online interactive media platforms (see exhibit below). In 2014, spending in the United States is projected to increase to $35.2 billion, up from $19.6 billion in 2010.  While this still is only a fraction of marketing spending in the United States, the compounded annual growth rates of mobile marketing and social media are 27% and 34% respectively.

Continuing Shift Towards Digital Media

Since 2008, there has been a nominal decrease in spending on traditional media while at the same time, spending on digital media has been increasing.  In 2008, United States spending on traditional marketing was $140.8 billion.  In 2010, spending decreased to $113.8 billion, which represents a 19% change in only two years (see exhibit below).  During the same time, United States spending on digital media grew from $15.5 billion to $19.6 billion, a 21% increase.

Social Networking Application Downloads

In comparison to other applications available for smart-phones, downloads of Social Networking applications have been steadily increasing. In December of 2009, Social Networking applications accounted for 47% of all downloads to smart-phones (% of Nielsen recent downloaders who have used each category of apps in the past month).

2.1.4 Market Growth

A number of different factors point to strong growth in social networking applications and websites. As previously mentioned, both Internet traffic to social networking sites and time spent on social networking sites have increased dramatically over the past 3 years.  This is due in part to the increase in smart-phone usage.  In 2008, there were 15 million smart-phone subscribers.  That number increased to 26 million in 2009.  As seen in the diagram below, the number of smart-phone subscribers continues to increase, which is causing direct increases in mobile penetration.

The chart below shows United States Internet usage broken down by sector.  Social networks are highest ranked sector, representing 22.7% of time spent on the Internet as of June 2010 – a 43% increase from June 2009.

Top 10 Sectors by Share of U.S. Internet Time
RANK Category Share of Time
June 2010
Share of Time
June 2009
% Change in
Share of Time
1 Social Networks 22.7% 15.8% 43%
2 Online Games 10.2% 9.3% 10%
3 E-mail 8.3% 11.5% -28%
4 Portals 4.4% 5.5% -19%
5 Instant Messaging 4.0% 4.7% -15%
6 Videos/Movies 3.9% 3.5% 12%
7 Search 3.5% 3.4% 1%
8 Software Manufacturers 3.3% 3.3% 0%
9 Multi-category Entertainment 2.8% 3.0% -7%
10 Classifieds/Auctions 2.7% 2.7% -2%
Other* 34.3% 37.3% -8%
Source:Nielsen NetView – June 2009-June 2010
*Other refers to 74 remaining online categories visited from PC/laptops

As would be expected from the chart above, time spent on social networks and blogs is the highest of all Internet sectors at 906 million hours per month as of June 2010.  This is more than double the Games sector, which United States Internet users spend 407 million hours on per month.

Current estimates reveal that 21% of mobile subscribers in the United States are smart-phone users.  The total number of mobile subscribers is as of 2009 was 285.6 million, which means that there were about 60 million smart-phone users.  The Nielsen Company estimates that 50% of mobile subscribers will use smart-phones by the end of 2011, meaning that the United States smart-phone market would increase by 82.8 million users in that time.

2.2 SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis provides us with an opportunity to examine the internal strengths and weaknesses that DrinkTabs must address in additional to potential market opportunities and threats.

 

DrinkTabs has a number of strengths that will contribute to its success. These strengths include low overhead and maintenance costs, strategic geographic positioning, youthful business and social insight, an aggressive advertising campaign, diminished regulations, and no official product-approval channels.  Although DrinkTabs has many strengths, there are weaknesses as well.  These include a lack of brand recognition, reliance on angel investor funding, and a lack of experience in managing a smart-phone application.

DrinkTabs strengths will help it capitalize on promising opportunities. These opportunities include entry into an increasingly popular market, a viral media presence, instantaneous volume potential, an ample supply of bars and neighborhoods for future expansion.  Threats that DrinkTabs must recognize are its replicable software model, competition from already established social media giants, and the presence of individuals that use social media in an inappropriate manner, which could result in legal issues for our company.

2.2.1 Strengths

  1. Low overhead and maintenance costs. Due to the fact that DrinkTabs only oversees a smart-phone application and a website interface, overhead and maintenance costs are very low.
  2. Strategic geographic positioning. The chosen target markets that DrinkTabs will pursue have vibrant cultures rich in social media.
  3. Youthful business and social insight. The relatively young age of the DrinkTabs team combined with its strong business background allows the company to take full advantage of social trends.
  4. Aggressive advertising campaign. DrinkTabs’ presence at major neighborhood bar events in each of the target geographic locations gives the company a strong footing from which to generate brand awareness.
  5. Diminished regulations and no official product-approval channels. The very small size of the DrinkTabs organization allows it to make changes to its business model and/or service very quickly and adapt to the changing social media environment at a rapid pace that many competitors cannot match.

2.2.2 Weaknesses

  1. Lack of brand recognition. Due to DrinkTabs start-up status, it must build from scratch to implement brand recognition.
  2. Reliance on external funding. DrinkTabs must rely on monetary infusions from angel investors resulting in an outstanding loan and equity sharing.
  3. Heavy reliance on fee-for-profit model. Current social media companies have set the standard for pricing and most of these services are open-source. DrinkTabs must therefore demonstrate utility to justify a premium.
  4. Lack of experience managing a smart-phone application. None of the DrinkTabs team members have experience managing a smart-phone application.  Therefore, a learning curve will be inherent.

2.2.3 Opportunities

  1. Entry into an increasingly popular market. The market DrinkTabs is entering is becoming increasingly popular over time.  The potential for future growth in this market is very strong.
  2. Viral media presence. DrinkTabs use of video introductions as user profiles gives the company a presence in the world of viral media, keeping the application hip and current. We will also maintain a firm blog and Youtube presence.
  3. Instantaneous volume potential. Users of social media are typically attracted to various applications and websites in large groups.  Rapid growth in the usage of a website or application can instantly transition into exponential numbers as the Snowball Effect begins to take place.
  4. Ample supply of bars and neighborhoods for future expansion. There are a plethora of bars and neighborhoods that maintain a vibrant culture just like DrinkTabs.  There will be no shortage of bars in neighborhoods across the country that our company can expand to in the future. Three such potential targets after year 1 are San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago.
  5. Strong bar attendance despite monetary concerns.  Despite economic indicators, people continue to spend money at bars, sometimes with an even greater propensity in depressing economic times.

2.2.4 Threats

  1. Replicable software model. The DrinkTabs application, like all social applications     and website, can be copied and modified by skilled software engineers. Direct competitors may emerge, using a slight variation of the DrinkTabs application or website and taking away DrinkTabs’ competitive advantage.
  2. Competition from already established social media giants. Although indirect, competition from established social media moguls such as Facebook is a reality.
  3. Presence of predators that use social media as a stalking mechanism and the resulting legal issues. As with any social media application or website, some users violate the privacy of others.  Stalking has been a very common problem as of recent and could potentially result in legal issues if not monitored very carefully.

2.3 Competition

The dual product/service nature of the business, DrinkTabs faces competition on two levels.  DrinkTabs competes not only with social networking applications, but also with geo-locater sites.  It is important to note that customers can use many of these services in conjunction with one another, so competition isn’t as much of an issue for free, or very low-cost, smart-phone applications. Additionally, DrinkTabs will carve out its own niche space and will not face any direct competition, as there is no application like it on the market that solely focuses on meeting people at bars. DrinkTabs is unique because it is a bar information tool, a public neighborhood forum, and geo-locater all in one.

Fourquare might be the closest service to ours as we mimic their check-in to a location via a digital interface method. SCVNGR operates in a similar manner, though it’s important to distinguish that both Foursquare and SCVNGR are games where the customer is awarded points depending on how frequently they check into unique locations. There are other services in this discovery, geo-locater space such as Loopt, Brightkite, and Yelp, which aid customers in finding business spaces in their neighborhood.  All of these groups currently offer their respective services for free and rely on advertising as their main source of revenue (though we suspect that they will eventually start charging for service or for upgrades).  This suggests to us that there are plenty of consumers in the geo-locater space that will look favorable towards DrinkTabs since it is an application that they can use without having to be distracted by annoying advertising pop-ups. We believe that customers will be happy to pay a nominal fee to alleviate this inconvenience.

2.4 Product Offering

Our initial product offering will be simple, with little customization. We will offer our digital platform through the web and as a smart-phone application that will promote three services: creating a video profile, viewing area bars and their patrons, and digitally checking-in at various bar locations. This limited service offering better focuses our capital on the attractiveness of the feature and thus enhances our ability to generate awareness with a strong user-base. After our initial product launch test period, users may have the option of further enhancing DrinkTabs service with add-ons and/or more customizable features.  We will re-evaluate the product after year one and year two, and consider user feedback before deciding the future and possible redesign of DrinkTabs.

2.5 Keys to Success

The Keys to the success of DrinkTabs are the rapid and consistent generation of brand awareness, preserving its image as hip and creative, and most importantly, establishing a highly effective and efficient interface that provides users with the best possible experience while using DrinkTabs. We anticipate that brand awareness may be disproportional to user volume as it may take time for customers to adapt to this type of networking and interaction. Our initial investment should provide enough of a safety net where we will not need to generate revenue immediately.  Also, this type of fiscal leniency will be essential for our brand’s vitality until we reach our break-even point after year 2.

2.6 Critical Issues

The worst issue that an application can face is being unpopular. Unless we can immediately promote DrinkTabs as a hip, new trend, it will lack the momentum needed to be sustainable.  This may be challenging as our primary audience is out of college and may not be as socially conscious as they once were in regard to current social trends. The second issue is if the service isn’t useful and people are unhappy with it. To combat these issues, we need make the features as obvious as possible and encourage word-of-mouth promotion of our service.

3.0 Marketing Strategy

The key to our marketing strategy is essentially pitching DrinkTabs to two different groups of participants. First, we need to appeal to bar-frequenting consumers to get them on board with our service. The other key component of DrinkTabs is cooperating with bars for better transparency on their events and specials through our digital interface.  Because so much of what DrinkTabs offers is community-oriented, a large part of our strategy is playing up what makes each of these neighborhoods unique and getting its residents to take pride in the bars and people that make the place in which they live so special.

3.1 Mission

To 20-somethings in urban areas, our DrinkTabs application is the bridge between social networking & face-to-face interaction that permits people to no longer be strangers in their own neighborhood and share a drink with potential new friends.

3.2 Marketing Objective

The marketing objectives of DrinkTabs for the first two years of operation include:

  • Acquire a customer base of 100,000 users over the first 12 months of operation.
  • Build customer loyalty through a high quality experience and neighborhood exposure.
  • Generate interest from area bars through promotion of DrinkTabs and its benefits to each bar.
  • Keep the DrinkTabs brand image fresh and edgy by consistently developing new promotional merchandise and event sponsorship.

3.3 Financial Objectives

The financial objectives for DrinkTabs are to:

  • Generate revenue and pay off all debt after two years of operation
  • Maintain a budget that allows for hiring, R&D, and expansion opportunities into three more cities by the end of year 1.
  • Achieve a double to triple digit growth rate for the first 3 years; achieve exponential growth by the end of year 3.

3.4 Target Markets

Our initial plan will be executed with careful deliberation. As we’re already launching in trendy neighborhoods which are strategically located in metropolitan areas, the bars we have to generate interest from will fit a certain profile. Each of these bars should have a vibrant ambiance, a well-stocked draft beer selection, assorted bar-games (darts, pool tables), happy-hour specials, and an on-going, hip jukebox selection. The bars that initially participate on our interface cater to a younger crowd and have achieved moderate success in patronage. The types of customers that we will attract already frequent these bars on an irregular basis, but by pitching DrinkTabs to these bars, we in turn broadcast to potential customers.  Adding bars to our map interface will be technically simple, so as DrinkTabs gains momentum, we will work hard to thoroughly represent every popular bar within the targeted geographic radius on our application.

 

Our target customer is one who has lost interest in the typical social networking applications like Facebook and who prides himself/herself on having something to say.  Additionally, we will be targeting our application to people who have relocated to the neighborhoods and do not know the people or places around them. Ideally, this application will be well suited for these individuals who desire to meet more people and increase their friend base. However, this application will still be useful for tight-knit groups of friends who wish to easily keep track of one-another without having to schedule times to meet up or coordinate meeting locations.

3.5 Positioning

The launch of DrinkTabs can be considered to be parallel to the entry of the numerous smart-phone applications that are hitting the market.  However, we do not anticipate the market to be so saturated that a well-designed service will be lost in the crowd. The functionality that we offer will be perceived as a tool that can enhance the consumer’s social utility.  Therefore, we aim to retain the customers we attract so that they can encourage their friends to sign up. This word-of-mouth advertising frees up some of our budget, so we can dedicate these funds to sponsoring and hosting parties and events. Our logo will be conspicuously placed at bars and various locations throughout each neighborhood in the target geographic locations. This niche positioning will enable DrinkTabs to fully employ its core strategies of encouraging people to get out, socialize, and have a good time.

3.6 Strategies

The two core competencies that DrinkTabs will explore are staged at different time intervals. Immediately we will undergo aggressive advertising campaigns and then in the distant future, DrinkTabs can potentially generate additional business by collecting fees from bars in exchange for marketing research.

  • One of the central issues explaining why it took Foursquare so long to generate consumer volume is a lack of advertising. DrinkTabs anticipates dedicating a significant portion of its investment capital to an active marketing campaign. A major part of the campaign will include launch-parties at popular area bars.  In addition, the DrinkTabs logo will be placed on matchbooks and coasters. We will sponsor various events such as live music and art expositions. DrinkTabs would also like to have various spokesmodels, such as local celebrities, who can be seen using our service. We can then utilize other media sources to virally access a broader range of consumers. For instance, DrinkTabs will post videos of average people using our service on Youtube, provided they allow us to.
  • Bars can freely participate in our map interface, but in the future, we may consider it as a second revenue source in addition to our application fee. Aside from providing meet-up services to customers, we can also generate market research for bars pertaining to how many people using DrinkTabs check into a respective bar each night. If a bar was evaluating a certain promotion or event night, DrinkTabs could provide information on how many of our customers check into that bar in comparison to its normal, expected volume. Bars do not usually have access to or choose to pay for any kind of market research and we anticipate that this could be a valuable secondary service for DrinkTabs to pursue.

3.7 Marketing Mix

DrinkTabs’ marketing mix is comprised of the following approaches to pricing, promotion, customer service, and public relations.

  • Pricing. Service will be offered for free for the first year.  After that, customers will be charged a one-time fee of $0.99.
  • Advertising and Promotion. Several different methods will be used for the advertising effort as discussed in strategies and further itemized in the financial section.
  • Customer Service. DrinkTabs will strive to achieve the highest level of customer service through the use of several roaming field agents and an interactive feedback forum.
  • Public Relations. DrinkTabs additionally utilizes their field agents to interact with bar managers and promote the brand.  They will be visible and specially chosen to represent the image DrinkTabs would like to promote.

3.8 Marketing Research

DrinkTabs employs 3 field agents per location whose job will primarily focus on perusing the neighborhood bars, conducting informal surveys, sampling various customer reviews, and posting on community blogs. These roaming representatives will report back regularly on their findings and be on call should we desire them at certain events or if a customer is having a negative experience.

4.0 Financials

This section will offer a brief financial overview of DrinkTabs’ marketing activities. DrinkTabs will address revenue projections, break-even analysis, and expense forecast, relating each of these figures to our marketing strategy.

4.1 Revenue Projection

We cite the favorable industry conditions of the app market when projected potential revenue. DrinkTabs will be able to leverage low overhead costs and virtually instantaneous accessibility to our product into exponential growth by the end of year 3. Base on our projections, we expect to have 100,000 downloads after our first year. Once we overcome the barrier of being a new market entrant, we expect our growth numbers to increase dramatically as we expand into several more locations. Citing the successful growth of other industry leaders, combined with our target niche, we can realistically expect to have 1.2 million users by our second year and 3.4 million users by the following year. Considering our service fee of $0.99 per user, our number of users is directly proportional to generated revenue.

4.2 Break-Even Analysis

The break-even analysis indicates that DrinkTabs will be able to pay back its investors and recoup its equity after year 2. To achieve this objective, DrinkTabs will issue back $1M to our investors and an additional $89K to roughly cover the 10% equity share that we gave up upon seed funding.

4.3 Expense Forecast

DrinkTabs has received an angel funding capital injection of $1M to get the company off the ground. The following is an expense report for the first two years of the company.

 

 

Year 1 Year 2 Total
Salary
Executives @ 30k each X 4 $120,000.00 $120,000.00 $240,000.00
Engineers @ 24k each X 4 $48,000.00 $0.00 $48,000.00
Field Agents @ 10k each $90,000.00 $180,000.00 $270,000.00
Overhead
Internet Technologies $10,000.00 $10,000.00 $20,000.00
Legal Retainer $20,000.00 $20,000.00 $40,000.00
Office Space $24,000.00 $24,000.00 $48,000.00
Advertising
Merchandise $10,000.00 $12,500.00 $22,500.00
Events $102,166.00 $154,334.00 $256,500.00
Sponsorships $15,000.00 $25,000.00 $40,000.00
Other $5,000.00 $10,000.00 $15,000.00
Total $444,166.00 $555,834.00 $1,000,000.00

 

  • Our executive team will consist of a President, a CMO, a CFO, and a CTO. We will contract two software engineers to develop our application interface and website. Our Field Agents are considered part-time employees and will be employed in each city DrinkTabs enters.
  • Merchandise will consist of DrinkTabs apparel that will be distributed at each bar we are associated with. This will include matchbooks, lighters, pint glasses, etc. DrinkTabs will also sponsor events at the bars, such as Trivia Nights, Live Music, and Drink Specials.  Our Field Agents will have a large part in helping customize events to bar specifications. Sponsoring existing events will help create market awareness for our service.  As an example, in Albany, events such as Tulip Fest, Lark Fest and Alive at Five will be considered as potential event opportunities.

Milestones

Milestones Start End Budget Manager
Marketing Plan January-11 May-11 $0.00 Exec. Board
Application Development June-11 August-11 $48,000.00 CTO
Beta Test September-11 September-12 $154,102.00 CMO
3 Additional Cities Launch September-12 September-13 $325,834.00 CMO
Break-Even September-11 September-13 $1,089,000.00

5.0 Controls

The purpose of DrinkTabs’ marketing plan is to serve as a guide for the organization. The following areas will be monitored to gauge performance:

  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Number of users
  • Customer feedback
  • Number of locations

5.1 Implementation

The process for entering a smart-phone application is a very simple process. Blackberry, Apple, and Droid all have a step-by-step protocol for uploading these applications from a firm’s server. Customers will be able to download the application from the market icon built into every smart-phone. The user fee will be transmitted to a company Pay-Pal account.

5.2 Marketing Organization

The DrinkTabs Executive Team, created and led by the founder of DrinkTabs, TA, will head the marketing effort. Mr. TA has considerable field experience in social media, and is backed by a strong team consisting of members with backgrounds in both marketing and management.  Additional employees will need to be hired as field agents.  Also, depending on the extent of DrinkTabs’ success, future geographical expansion will also require adding additional employees to the DrinkTabs team.

5.3 Contingency Planning

This marketing plan is what we expect to happen based on our research.  However, things do not always work out according to plan and it is possible that DrinkTabs will not reach its outlined projections.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, we must be prepared for overwhelming success.

 

The following are some possible scenarios:

Revenues exceed projections – Based on the user growth of other popular social media applications such as Foursquare, we project that our penetrated market could reach roughly 7 million users with in 3 years. This surge in popularity will make DrinkTabs attractive enough to be bought out and incorporated by much larger Internet companies like Facebook or Google. The DrinkTabs executive board is open to the idea of this exit strategy should a potential buy-out amount to a multi-million dollar offer.

Revenues miss projections – Should the DrinkTabs application fail to gain momentum and generate revenue by the end of year 2 the company will have no assets to liquidate and will default on its investors. However, let it be noted that even if DrinkTabs does not become a cash positive company after year four, it will still be able to pay off our investors and settle any other debt.

Appendix

Logistics:

Profile – Like Facebook, the user will have a log-in id that will also be used in the bar forums. This will be called a MugShot (preferably the user’s name) and will be accompanied by a recorded video profile with privacy settings to control who sees it. The video is limited to 30 seconds, simply including current interests pursued, books read, movies seen, meals cooked, or anything else the user would like to include. This can be updated/changed at anytime to include nightly objectives, i.e. what to talk about.

Map Interface – Each user will be able to click an icon that says BarCrawl, which takes the user to a neighborhood interface that looks similar to Google Maps, except there will be small digital icons representing bars at their respective locations within the neighborhood.  Users will also have the option of scaling/zooming out in order to view various parts of the city.  Lastly, there will be a drop down menu with a list of area bars.

Interaction – Once you click on a bar, a page will open up.  All bar pages will look the same with several icons that can be clicked on. There will be a menu icon that will display any specials or deals or the day (events can also be included on this list, such as bands or trivia).  There will also be a forum button and live-chat feature that will allow users to post discussion topics and/or post comments. Additionally, there will be a guest list that people will check into as they enter a certain bar and can RSVP to be there at anytime.

Features – As people within a user’s circle of friends enter a bar and check in (just like in Foursquare) the DrinkTabs application will keep track of this. On the map interface users will have a button that shows their friends as dots at the bar location where they are currently located.  If a user feels like keeping a low profile for the night, he/she may choose to not check in at the bar.