A Contrast with Other MSA SBUs
written report due 23 APR
The report is to be a situation analysis for the downtown area of Texarkana. This report should maintain focus on the marketing environment and should be suitable (with minor modifications in its objective) as the first part of a larger strategic plan.
Our objective is not to recommend specific tactics with regard to specific spaces, but rather to assess the present state of the downtown area and to suggest what can be done strategically to increase interest in investment into the downtown area. Downtown Texarkana is merely one SBU in a portfolio of SBUs in the Texarkana MSA; we need to understand how downtown is an economic asset or liability in this business portfolio and how investment into the downtown area results in an overall gain or loss for the portfolio that makes up all of the Texarkana MSA. Importantly, our assessment must consider the perspectives of a variety of constituencies, each with different priorities.
Although we don't have a specific client for this assessment, this assignment was made after a conversation with an interested party who has invested in multiple downtown buildings. Several classes have worked on similar assignments over the past dozen years and many people and organizations across that time have shown an interested in the results of student analyses. Note that the outcomes of these analyses have changed over time because our downtown has changed over that time; tracking these changes has been part of the reason for local interest in our projects. Some of those people might be at our final presentation and some might want copies of student reports, so don't forget that your deliverables will be on public display.
Some Important Rules:
Please take special precautions if you discuss this project with anyone outside of the class. Some information that is distributed or discussed in class might be confidential. Equally important, we do not want anyone outside of the class to be misled by our activities. We must be especially careful that anyone outside of our class understands that this is a learning exercise for the class and that this is not otherwise an official undertaking of the university. Please exercise restraint when expressing personal opinions about project issues outside of our class meetings.
For a variety of reasons, you are prohibited from conducting primary research excepting some kinds of observational research that would not reveal the nature of our project. This has caused serious enough problems in the past that I will immediately drop you from the course if I have reason to suspect that you have interviewed or surveyed other organizations, business leaders, prospective customers, etc. Engaging in these activities could, for example, jeopardize our relationships with university clients, could jeopardize relationships with university donors, and if running surveys, could jeopardize federal funding that our institution receives.
You are, however, expected to do outside secondary research for this project. This could include, for example, finding demographic information that is related to estimating the size and location of potential target markets, finding information regarding industry trends, and such. Keep copies of all information that you find because you will be required to cite all sources of information in your final report.
Generic Report Structure:
The attached generic outline might provide some guidance with regard to writing an environmental analysis in general, but strict adherence to this outline is not expected where not appropriate for our client's project. This is not a creative writing assignment; it is a technical writing assignment. Length is expected to be no more than 20 pages of text (exclusive of appendices) and will probably be much shorter if you use a report style that will be discussed in class.
All reports must have some sort of introduction that explains the nature, focus, and objective of the report to the reader. The body of all reports must in some way address opportunities and threats in the environment and address the strengths and weaknesses of our client, client resources, or client product. All reports must also end with some sort of recommendation. That is, the report should lead to some speculation regarding the outlook for our client organization or product, the strategic direction that should be set for the organization or product, and some suggestions regarding how it is that the organization could go about heading in this direction.
Although some sort of strategic recommendation is required, most of the text of the report will be associated with a scan and assessment of the current environment that logically leads to a strategic recommendation. You should suggest some elements of tactical implementation, but this must be very limited and absolutely must follow from logical development in the report. A report that focuses on a list of tactical recommendations in absence of an environmental analysis that leads to a singular strategic recommendation is a candidate for a failing grade; without taking this course, anyone can "shoot from the hip" to create a laundry list of suggestions in absence of analysis.
SUGGESTED COMPONENTS OF A SITUATION ANALYSIS|
Adapted from Guiltinan and Paul (1990), Marketing Management: Strategies and Programs, New York: McGraw-Hill.