What I did this week

Our group hasn’t had the chance to spend much time together will week. It has been busy due to assignment hand in’s and some personal unavoidable issues by myself and others.

This week I looked at the business plan and tried to fill in some of section 12 about managing market risks and 13. about pricing.

I tried writing down some bullet points about market risks and how we can help combat them. For example one risk could be that competitor enters the area in the future, this means we need to quickly develop brand loyalty – based on marketing and user experience. We would also need to ensure that our prices are lower or service is better than the competitor, if they entered the market.

Another market risk could be the cost of materials rising (e.g. steel, aluminium), raising the cost of our bikes. We would need to ensure that we have regular reviews of costs, to make sure that this is reflected in our rental pricing. We will need to regular review alternative suppliers to leverage the best deal, or make an agreement with an existing supplier that prices will be fixed for a period of time.

Regarding the pricing – we have informally already compared with competitors to construct a price table, so this time I compared our price table with national competitors, as we haven’t located local competitors renting standard bikes. Using the information now gathered we can fill in section 13., giving the price range of a competitors against ours, for equal or equivalent service. We will however have to identify a genuine reason for these lower costs, this could be due to lower costs outside of a city, or through the use of additional revenue schemes.

Over the weekend I reviewed our presentation just to remind myself where were are currently at with the project. I also looked at the technology plan, to watch out for any mistakes as some ideas have developed since original drawings.

As you can see, there has not been a high work rate this week. I believe that we are at the level of other groups, however we need to put in a lot of hours over the next week, otherwise we are bound to fall behind and lose marks.

Time:

Own: 4 hours. Group: 2 hours

What I learnt this week

Chris gave us a recap on what we’d learnt regarding marketing, some of which started many weeks ago – so this weeks lecture was useful.

The recap including the basic principles of marketing, you have to bare in mind the – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Using the 7 O’s can help understand how to market the product with the information that you have, or what you need to find out to market the product by using market research.

Market research begins by identifying the problem and creating research objectives. You can then find out where you are going to find the answers (your data), for example you could perform test marketing by building a sample of a product, before releasing it to a group of people so that you can judge approval of the product, this will help come up with how likely others will also be happy with the product (depending on test market and target market). The results can be analysed after this has taken place, these should contain answers to the problem defined at the beginning.

Chris then gave the details of a number of cast studies, so that we can understand what it means to define the Product, Price, Place and Promotion in varying situations.

For people who were stuck with the marketing plan, an example structure was also given in a slide. We already had most of these down to go in the marketing plan, but the example structure does help us decide where things should be going.

What I did this week

This was work week, where we had some time to prepare for the presentation to give to Chris. The aim was to make a presentation to explain what the business was, how it worked, the progress and the future aims.

We had completed the majority of the presentation last week, therefore on Wednesday we reviewed the presentation and thought about what each of us would say in the slides. This was continued on Thursday when we re-worded some parts of the presentation and re-edited some screenshots so that it would be clearer. This totaled about 4 hours work.

On Thursday evening I continued to go through my slides, writing down extra content that I would say, that was not included in the text on the slides. I didn’t bother practicing out loud at this stage, as there were only a small number of slides that we had already booked time to go through on Friday, before the presentation.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the rehearsal and the interim presentation, due to personal reasons. I contacted Chris about this as I believe that I had given a good amount of input up until this stage and had prepared all of the content that I needed to present, along with previously putting the skeleton of the presentation together.

After speaking to my colleagues, I found that the presentation wen’t really well – so  I’m glad about that. Feedback received from Chris:

  • use cases and rich picture do not need to be in the final presentation
  • where do you get discounts on the payment page
  • make affiliates clearer of how make money – do we make money or do they make money
  • in the final presentation Chris suggested that to help sell our idea that we try and set the scene e.g a new student starting university how would we sell to them
  • need to look at how else we can enhance the webiste
  • long term rentals how website might benefit from them
  • payments by parents
  • could have discounts if people renew their rentals sooner

This was very useful feedback and has left us with a couple of things to think about. The website enhancement is one of them, how can we make it attractive to customers and how can we make to accessible on many devices (responsive web design perhaps).

The idea of a discount for early renewal is a good one, I believe that instead of taking a cut on income, the bonus to the customer could be a one month extension or some other incentive that adds value to the proposition.

I was unable to do work at the weekend and our group has not met up this week, as we have been working on an assignment which is due in at the end of the week. This week I have not put in the same amount of time as in previous weeks, however I hope we have a productive week to come.

Meeting time: 4 hours.Own time: 2 hours.

Total: 6 hours

What I did this week

Our group spent most of the BIT project working time to plan and put together the presentation, which we are giving on Friday.

On Friday 16th November, we will present what progress we have made with our project to Chris, so that he knows about what our business is and how far we have got with things. This presentation isn’t the final one that we’d show to a company or investor, it should be factual and to the point.

We had a meeting on Thursday (November 8th) where we discussed how we would approach the presentation. We also looked at what we had done and what was talked about during lectures so that we knew what were the important parts to cover in the presentation (soe of us already had notes). During the Thursday meeting we decided that the following should be explained to Chris during the presentation:

  • What does our business do?
  • How will the business make money?
  • What examples of scope documents have we completed ? (such as use-cases and storyboard)
  • What market research have we done?
  • How have we progressed with the business plan?
  • Who has done what?
  • What work is left to do and who will do it?

The rest of the Thursday meeting covered the feedback received from Chris. We opened up the original document so that we could see the section along with the feedback. We have some corrections to make with the business plan, however we should be able to work on that next week. The following notes were made about who should work on different parts of the presentation content (or the quality control of that section, if completed as a team):

  • Seb – Website Draft, mention website/app, Price list. Advertising.
  • Me – How are we going to make money, Business Plan, Figures, Presentation skeleton slides
  • Tom – General Idea, Rich Pictures, Affiliates.
  • Ian – Marketing, Figures, Plan of work until Christmas.
  • Sam – Use Cases and Presentation Plan

During the weekend I reviewed what documentation we had already completed and had uploaded to Facebook, to give me an idea of what to put into the presentation. I put together a skeleton presentation with titles, in some of the sections I put a few bullet points in to speed up progress at the next meeting. I then chose a design and jigged the slides around until I thought it looked like it was in a logical order, it should go something like: What is the business? > Why is this good? > What are the technical elements? > How will it make money? > Any other supporting materials and information > What next?

The Monday (November 12th) meeting involved putting content into the presentation. We had it up on a big screen and all bashed our heads together to put content into the slides, with live critical analysis. It is now 90% done, we just need to meet before Friday to check it through again, add notes that aren’t on screen and to do a test run of it. I think it is best if 2 people (or maybe 3) present this presentation, with everyone else present for questions. We spent the rest of the meeting picking holes in the project, such as our over emphasis on the business side of things and not enough about it being a software project. We came up with some ideas on how to resolve this, such as making sure we discuss the mobile site options and describe technically how our website would work.

On Tuesday (November 13th) I reviewed the marketing lecture and wrote this blog, looking back at last week’s work.

Time spent: Thursday 2.5 hours, Weekend 3 hours, Monday 3.5 hours, Tuesday 1.5 hours.

Total: 10.5 hours

What I learnt this week

Ian Harris gave us a lecture on Market Research, one of the tasks that we need to perform in our group project and next year.

I learnt that market research is the collection, analysis and communication that assist in marketing decision making. In general terms, it takes place to find out the following:

  • What is the potential market? (Which one’s should we be in?)
  • What features of a product are valuable in that potential market? (What do they need and want?)
  • What is the size of the market?
  • Are there any competitors or threats to consider?
  • What price would they be willing to pay?

Following market research, normally you would report the findings and conclusions, along with recommendations on how to proceed.

Ian also told us about the seven o’s we are trying to prove:

  • Occupant – who are the market (genfer, age, education, race, religion, income…)
  • Object- what do they buy (competitor analysis)
  • Objective – why do they buy (USP, why might they buy yours?)
  • Organisation – who buys (individual, group, company)
  • Operations – how do they buy (payment method)
  • Occasion – when do they buy (one-off purchase, regular purchase, when?)
  • Outlet – where do they buy (website, app, shop, catalogue)

Finally there were some survey tips such as – remember to introduce the survey, keep it relatively short, make it easy to understand (no jargon), allow space for comment, have logical development during the survey and incentivise it if possible.

What I did this week

We had a meeting on Wednesday 31st October to discuss the technology plan. We had all previously been assigned tasks to do, so this was a chance to show each other the documentation that had been produced, discuss any issues with completing the documentation and provide constructive comments on the documentation of others as quality control. I discussed what I had found while researching what prices other companies were charging for their bike rentals. After considering a number of sources, I produced an Excel spreadsheet with a proposed pricing scheme for Aber Bike Hire – the feedback that I received from the team was positive and that the pricing seemed relatively easy to understand. I just need to tidy up the Student category so that the term pricing description looks more attractive. As a group we need to clarify what other extras there will be and how much we will charge for them – a helmet is a basic non essential extra that could be rented for a small income, however others may disagree.

Tom discussed his rich picture and showed us the first draft that he had created. The feedback on the rich picture was positive, none of us had produced one before but this one seemed to be clear and covered most of the stakeholders involved with the business. Tom said he’d send the rich picture to Chris for some feedback, just incase anything was missing.

Seb showed us some early prototypes of the website that he had created, so that we can use them in a storyboard format later. They looked very good, we discussed the layout of the site and how the form would function so people could go through the steps of renting a bike. We identified that a new step needed to be added, or additional information to the form, as far as I remember I think this was due to extras being missing from the form. The others then discussed their pieces of work and we spoke about the project in general. It was good to have the group actively in the loop with each part of the documentation.

The others also presented the work they had done, for example Ian had come up with some customer expectations for customers in different categories (e.g. a Student will expect rentals to be cheap, or expect student discount)  Sam showed us where she’d got with the use case diagrams development.

On Friday 2nd November we met up and discussed any further issues people were having with their work and talked about how we would approach completing the business plan. I showed the group the two data flow diagrams that I had produced, the feedback that I got was generally good – I don’t think any of us are confident enough with DFDs to know if there are any technical errors, I brought up that this was being covered later in another lecture and we could come back to it then.

Seb had produced some further web page mock ups to cover additional pages, including a revised order form. I discussed the functionality of the form with Seb, we discussed how we could make the order process as easy and as quick as possible for the customer. I pointed out that there must be a way of the form recognizing an existing customer in an efficient manor, so that the personal details of the customers would be pulled from the database and pre-filled into the form (such as name and cardholder address). A way of implementing this would be a reminder to login at a step before the address details, or to have a login option on the step in the form that requires the address details, so that the user can save some time. This needs to be done in such a way so that new customers are not deterred.

Tom showed us the latest version of his rich picture, which contained some revisions – I think it was at this point where he had added some short descriptions, explaining how the stakeholders were involved. Sam had finished all use cases that were previously just drafts, she said that she’d email them around later and did. Impressive descriptions to go with the functions, I must say! Ian had worked on the questionnaire for market research, but didn’t have finished questionnaire document yet.

It was agreed that we have progressed with the technology side of things and progressed with some of the business parts, such as pricing, but next we must tackle the business plan as a priority as at this point in time we only had short notes for each section and no collaborative document with information.

On Sunday 4th November I looked through the business plan document ready for Monday’s meeting. I made some bullet points for sections such as the business idea, what we will do and I also identified some sections that I’d like to take on if anything gets handed out for completion, such as “11. Profiling competitors” as I have already profiled other hire companies that have a web presence. I also updated the student term data on the rental price list.

On Monday 5th November we had our major meeting of the week, the main aim of this meeting was to make extensive progress with the business plan and we did.
We opened up the business plan on a computer with a wireless keyboard, connected to a large plasma screen so that we could make an input into the business plan together – with information close by on Blackboard or through Google that we could look at.

We filled in sections 1-10 of the business plan, which is over 50% of the document. These sections are not complete as such, but all of these sections have a decent amount of content that we think is of a good quality. We made some notes in some of the sections, these notes were so that we could come back to these sections after asking Chris questions or after future progress in other areas of the project.

I believe that our main difficulty was with the numbers – the quantities and the values. How much product can we sell to each area of the market? It is easy to make up figures to fit, but our figures must be reasonable with reasons to back it up. We can only make those numbers look more credible after backing it up with market research that hasn’t been completed yet. We tackled this by looking at the Student population of Aberystwyth, with this information we made a reasonable suggestion about how many bikes we will hire out.  During them meeting Tom located a Ceredigion Council tourism analysis document, which includes information about how much tourists spend in Ceredigion. Tom only really had a chance to skim it, but tried to find some useful numbers. This document should be analyzed incase it provides us with some useful feedback regarding our pricing (e.g. if something indicates they spend a lot on recreational activities, then this is good information). In a later meeting we will discuss market research further, we have a surveying lecture coming up at the end of the week.

The document is going to be sent of to Chris by Ian, so that we have have some feedback on the sections where we are stuck. On Wednesday we can discuss this document again and complete more sections.

On Tuesday 6th November I discussed the questionnaire with Ian. I sent him some suggested questions, however he had already come up with the same or similar ones. So instead I came up with some different answer ranges that Ian can consider, incase they provide better feedback. I also completed this blog.

Wednesday meeting – 2 hours

Thursday work – 1 hour

Friday meeting – 2 hours

Weekend work – 1.5 hours

Monday meeting – 3 hours

Tuesday work – 0.5 hours

Blogging and slide review – 1.5 hours

Total: 11.5 hours

What I learnt this week

This week I had an introduction marketing, I learnt how to approach marketing and advertising a product.

It’s basic terms marketing means letting potential customers know about your product and sell this product at a price where everyone is happy (customer sees value, business sees the expected return).

I learnt about market positioning, this involved knowing what product your are selling, what price you will sell it at , where can the customer get this product and how will people know about the product.

Chris went into more details about each of the positioning steps, one example is with pricing. A naive view of pricing is that price is or should be – x (cost) + 5% = y (price). A better view is the price should be what it is worth to the customer, a business wanting to maximize revenue will try testing the highest they can charge for it, while still keeping customers happy. For example Apple usually sell products for higher prices than competitors, they do this because they sell their products well as premium solutions to problems (there are many other aspects too).

It is important to understand that when people buy a product (a product can be physical or service), they are actually buying a solution to a problem. It is important to use this when selling the product to a customer, what will the product solve? Can you make it look like this product will offer a solution to more things than you had originally thought? Perhaps some aspects of the way the product is positioned in the market can lead to more sales!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology which can be used to tackle peoples needs at different levels. The theory is that once people meet their needs at the lower levels, they will concern themselves with the higher levels for fulfillment – can our product fulfill these needs?

Image

(source)

These can be categorized broadly as physical needs, security needs, relationship needs, appreciation needs and attaining your full potential. The most basic needs are at the bottom (like food to live), more complex needs are near the top.

We looked at a range of adverts, one that is memorable for me is the advert for a Dodge Charger which tells man that he goes through the day to day, being told what to do, doing work, being bothered by others – but buying this car is a reward for all of this work “man’s last stand”, and this car will somehow make it all worth it and make him happy. This one clearly attacks the higher levels such as “Esteem” (confidence, achievement).

A product’s customer must also be identified by looking at age range, what interests them, what they know about, how much money they have to spend etc etc. The customer may not be the user of a product, for example a parent buying a toy for their child.

More things about marketing, such as surveys will be coming up next week and in the future.

I found out that the intermediate presentation is like a progress report.

  • We should let Chris know how we are coming along with our solution / product, while explaining what it is.
  • We should explain the roles in our team – what have I been doing in the ream, what am I going to be doing in the team?
  • We should present the key parts of the business plan that we have completed so far – what company are we? What are we selling? How many? How much for? And how will we make money?
  • We should present the key points of the marketing plan that we have completed so far. What have we done to explore how to market it? What are we doing next?
  • We should let Chris know what other things still need to be done to get the project completed