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Australian Institute of Sport: Strategic Marketing Report


Executive Summary

The business sector has always realized the importance of developing a strategic marketing plan. Similarly, the sports sector has also recognized the need to establish a marketing plan to ensure high-quality performance and success. Many researchers in the field of sports argue that sports will not survive without a strategic marketing plan. The reason for this is the increased competition inherent in the entertainment industry.

The A.I.S, as Australia’s main national sports institute, is not exempted from implementing a marketing plan. A.I.S was founded with the aim of improving the sports industry in Australia. Since its inception, the institute has served successfully the nation’s sports industry. However, as the world is constantly developing more innovative programs, A.I.S faces many challenges and competition from other sports institutes that provide high quality and entertaining sports. To remain competitive in this sector, a marketing plan is crucial.

The strategic marketing plan examines the current state of the institute and analyses in detail its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats accordingly. The analysis also seeks to develop a marketing strategy for A.I.S that will help the institute improve by the year 2022. This involves examining the products, prices, promotion and place, commonly referred to as 4ps in business terms. Analysis of the 4ps helps greatly in implementation of action approaches aimed at improving the entire institute. Therefore, AIS needs to take some action plans to effectively sort its problems and continue to be in the lead.

Situation Analysis

Overview

The Australian Institute of Sports (A.I.S) is a sports training institution well known all over the world. Opened in 1981, A.I.S provides modern training facilities and support services that promote sports training. The organization hires employees to work in its sections such as the field sector that involves field officers in sport science and medicine. The employees of the organization are experts in various sports-related disciplines including sports nutrition, skill acquisition, and physiology among many others (Morgan & summers 2005, p. 39).

The Current Situation of A.I.S

The A.I.S has a large capacity that can accommodate many people undertaking different activities along with a 5200 people capacity for indoor activities such as gymnastics. The A.I.S has an outdoor seating capacity of 25,000 that hosts some of the most popular games like football and hockey. The Institute has won many awards in different disciplines across Australia and is a popular tourist destination. This implies that the institute is doing well at international levels.

The Australian Institute of Sports has several programs and partnerships, which are aimed at ensuring that it achieves its goals. One major program is the high performance program which has to ensure that Australia becomes a top 10 athletics nation by the end of 2012. National performance centres are located all over the country and focus on individual athletes. They make use of the available infrastructure to bring out the best talents with the help of the world class coaches. This program helps train individuals thereby ensuring that athletes become real professionals without having to attend training at headquarters. Similarly, this program offers several scholarships to different individuals who have shown talent and devotion to sports.

A.I.S programs have a scholarship system, which ensures that talented individuals who cannot afford tuition are trained to elite levels. The elite program offers university education in sports that enhances professional standards. Essentially, this program is a high performance type and is aimed at achieving the best athletic results at international levels. Essentially, the program prepares highly talented athletes who are ready to enter the world championships in their particular disciplines. Scholarships are open to Australian citizens who have reached 17 years of age and have completed secondary education.

The A.I.S camp scholarship year starts on April 1st and finishes on September 30th when the trainees are re-assessed in readiness to join the camps from 1st October to 31st of March. All applications are reviewed and only the most qualified athletes are selected for scholarship consideration. Those who are considered to join the scholarship programs must achieve the AIS qualifying standards and must be eligible for selection to national teams at the Paralympics and Olympic levels. In addition, the athlete must show a high potential to improve the current performances and must be willing to attend injury rehabilitation programs before taking the full program.

The main consumers of A.I.S are spectators. Generally, spectators pay a lot of money to watch the athletes performances and competitions. Through organized national sports, the A.I.S attracts millions of fans who love watching games.

The trainee is another consumer of the A.I.S. The A.I.S provides programs in several sporting disciplines which are of interest to secondary school graduates. The main professional courses offered in the institute are sports science and sports medicine. These courses are very popular and in high demand. Currently, the Institute does not offer as many professional courses as expected, although it is becoming increasingly popular in Australia.

Products

As in most sports organizations, the main product of the A.I.S is the athlete. Athletes are the main source of money since millions of people from all over the world come to watch them playing. The AIS has athletes in different games and sports such as basketball, cricket, football women, football men, athletes with disability, diving, cricket, rowing, hockey, skiing, netball, gymnastics, rugby, sailing, squash, swimming, softball, tennis, volleyball, cycling and many other games. All of these are products of A.I.S and continue to prevail the market of Australia as well as foreign markets. These games attract millions of fans who willingly pay to watch their favourite athletes.

Competitors

The effectiveness of any industry is measured by the amount of profit it makes (McDonald & Payne 1996, p. 97) However, in case of sports, the effectiveness is measured by the games won. The A.I.S. is facing many challenges as it tries to improve its performance and meet international standards. As Other sports organizations and teams are emerging and developing and, thus, creating a great threat to A.I.S.

Unlike the A.I.S, these organizations are training their athletes at a lower price although the facilities are almost the same. As a result, many trainees have to change organizations to some cheaper institutes, which they can more easily afford. Moreover, these small institutions are picking talented athletes who have not been recognized by A.I.S. These athletes are trained and become elite thereby increasing their chances of becoming well renowned.

It is well known that sport is all about talent and passion without which one cannot succeed in this field. It means that many people who are talented and interested in sports choose cheaper clubs and organizations, in Australia and internationally because attaining a position in A.I.S is quite selective and expensive, which makes this organization less attractive and affordable.

The main supplier to the A.I.S. is the athlete or a player. These can let the institution down or vice versa. For AIS to improve in its performance, proper training is required. Even though A.I.S has provided adequate training facilities, a lot needs to be done. With technological advancements and innovations, advanced facilities are required in order to meet the international standards. Every day, a new talented player is born, perhaps even more talented than the previous ones.

More and more world records are broken every day as players advance. To keep up with the pace, the A.I.S needs to do more, especially in training and provision of modern training facilities. Current facilities are neither sufficient nor not up to standards to consistently produce competitive players.

The performance of employees also needs to be taken into consideration in any industry. The most important employees in A.I.S are the trainers and coaches. The Institute employs approximately 70 high level, elite coaches. However, since competition is increasing and new talents are emerging, the need for more competent coaches is also increasing.. The performance of athlete depends largely on the input of the coaches and the trainees themselves. Currently, athletes have been facing competition from outside players and have lost several games. This calls for some more complex measures and the need to motivate coaches to achieve more.

The number of sports consumers is directly related to the number of teams or the attractiveness of the industry. This means that the better the results of the athletes, the higher the number of consumers. Basically, revenues of sports institutions come from the spectators, members and sponsors. The competition that A.I.S is facing has led to the loss of many of its consumers who have shifted to the small clubs that specialize in some particular sports activities. As a result, sustainability of products, which in our case are the spectators, is faced with untold challenges. Other international organizations are becoming more popular and entertaining placing them in a competitive advantage over the A.I.S.

SWOT Analysis

Analysis of strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats is significant for any marketing plan (McDonald 2011, p. 67). Just like any other institute, the A.I.S. has a share of its weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats commonly used in business analysis.

Strengths

The A.I.S is a world class sports institute and is famous not only in Australia but also internationally. It has several facilities including a 65 hectare field in Canberra offering multiple services. Apart from this field, facilities like gymnastic halls and swimming pools are available for various indoor activities. In addition, there are several fields for soccer, hockey along with the sport science building. Moreover, the Institute hosts a number of tourists from overseas who also enjoy the variety of services it offers. Simply, The A.I.S. is a sports tourist destination area with a high capacity to host both national and international sports events. As more tourists make use of the facilities, the A.I.S. continues to develop and improve its reputation.

Whenever people use the AIS facilities, a fee is paid. Being an international institute, the fee is quite high as compared to many other sports facilities providers. An example of the facilities offered by the institute includes the modern biomechanical parameters used to measure and interpret information about the. The biomechanics services are found in big and modern sport organizations around the world.

They are mostly used in track and field athletics, swimming, rowing and cycling. Not many organizations can provide such facilities as they are expensive and complex. In cycling, the bio mechanical facilities aid in assessing the ergonomics of the bicycle in order to optimize the power output while reducing the aerodynamic drag. Essentially, this ensures that an optimal position of the cyclist is achieved for faster cycling.

In case of swimming, there are three major championships per a year that are used to analyze the competition. Here, the coaches are provided with the start and finish times together with the turn times, stroke lengths, velocities and stroke frequencies. Graphic output is then produced representing the entire data set. Such facilities are very rare and can only be found in big, modern organizations. The fee charged to use these facilities helps in strengthening the Institute by adding more modern facilities for further development. With its attractiveness, the A.I.S has the high capacity and good management and leadership to develop.

Another great advantage that A.I.S has is the capacity to employ high-qualified international coaches. World class coaches would not hesitate to join such a focused and well known institute. This places the A.I.S. at a great advantage over other small institutes that are developing. The role of coach is very important especially when there is a need to improve athletes’ performances. The fact that the A.I.S can afford to employ efficient and well paid coaches means that it is on the right way to success. Many sports organizations cannot afford to pay coaches well. The capacity of the A.I.S. to support high salaries is an added advantage for the organization.

Weaknesses

Lancaster (1996, p. 26) argues that, in the modern world, technological advancements and innovations are outdoing some of the institutions that have failed to adapt to the new advancements. The field of sports is equally affected by this trend. The A.I.S has experienced some delays in adopting some of the emerging innovations necessary for improving sports. Its 65 hectares of sports fields are not enough to accommodate more sporting activities. The facilities available require much improvement to respond to the requirements of advanced technology.

Many people have realized that sport is a great professional field. This means that more people are willing to become elite athletes. This requires the A.I.S to implement new strategies and create more vacancies to accommodate more talented people. New talents may lack space in the Institute and opt to improve and nurture their talents elsewhere.

Opportunities

The A.I.S has several opportunities that can be exploited to improve its performance. The Institute is strategically placed with several airlines and other transport providers close by. It has facilities that can be modified to attract more sports tourists. The infrastructural facilities in the Institute’s environment can be used as a tool to develop the Institute even further. Being a national institute with many facilities, the A.I.S has an opportunity to improve its performance and products.

This can be done by holding tournaments and various types of competitions throughout the year. Management may invite popular athletes and teams to hold tournaments, and consequently give the players a chance to compete as well as train. This would encourage athletes morale and encourage them to train more and improve their performances. The A.I.S has a high capacity of holding several competitions and tournaments and should make use of the available opportunities.

Another great advantage over many other institutes is that A.I.S has a great chance to attract donors and sponsors. By just improving their performances, the institute attracts several sponsors who are willing to be associated with a prestigious sports institute. Making use of these sponsors will greatly aid in maintaining its name and better still, invest in modern facilities.

Threats

A large number of private sports institutes are chartered every day. This means that the A.I.S is facing much competition from private sector providers aiming to make use of modern facilities to attract more consumers. Unlike the A.I.S., these institutes are employing new talents, even from overseas. There are many great athletes outside Australia and buying or sponsoring them would aid in promoting the A.I.S.

Today, sport has become a professional career that attracts huge sums of money. More people are willing to join this professional career more than ever before. In response to this, entrepreneurs have found promising and profitable ventures in the various sporting disciplines. Several private sports institutes have been formed to cater for the high demands of athletics. These new entries have become major competitors of the A.I.S resulting in loss of market share and profitability. This is placing AIS at a disadvantage over the other organizations and an action plan at this stage is important.

Objectives

The following objectives will be used to improve the performance of A.I.S:

  • Promote sports development.
  • Promote business development.
  • Enhance better performance.
  • Promote people development.

Enhance Better Performance

To ensure that the institute improves its performance, more talented athletes will be trained with the aim of ensuring that they meet the international athlete programs. This will be met by employing more elite coaches using criteria based on their credentials. A criteria for assessing the coaches before employment will be based largely on their previous performances in other organizations. Similarly, an efficient network of services will be provided by the Institute, together with the development of teams that have strong passion for sports and, most importantly, that are highly talented. Co-operation between the athletes and coaches will be prioritized to ensure that the objective of high performance is adequately met.

Promote People Development

This objective seeks to provide the trainees with various development activities and tools to ensure high performance. To achieve this, all members of A.I.S will be provided with the necessary information and resources to access the sport. Additionally, a sound leadership strategy needs to be developed for all the staff. This objective will simultaneously promote international relationships as well as improve the Institute’s standards.

Sport Development

To improve the performance of the athletes, a cohesive system of sports needs to be developed with clear leadership and direction. Accordingly, strengthening of sports at grass root levels will be prioritized. A developed strategy to enhance and protect access to training venues and sports facilities needs to be formulated and implemented. Awareness that communication is vital in any development process, the A.I.S will seek to improve communication to ensure optimal outcomes.

Sport development will be enhanced by the provision of safe training environments and the provision of adequate access to the Institute at regional levels. More land will be bought to accommodate all the training activities at ease. This will include opening up organizations in various parts of the country and providing them with the necessary facilities.

Business Development

The A.I.S will enhance its brand by making use of commercial opportunities. Marketing activities need to be improved so as to provide reliable sustainable revenue. This will provide attractive returns to corporate partners while optimizing the benefits incurred from sporting activities. To optimize all these, qualitative research will be conducted to improve the effectiveness of the Institute. An events management strategy will be implemented to provide world’s best events that deliver high performance competitions for all Australian athletes.. At the same time, a strategy to strengthen information and communication capabilities will be implemented to ensure success of the whole objective.

Marketing Strategy and Action Programs

Product

Athletes are the major products of A.I.S, without which the institute would not exist. Athletes’ performances are what keeps the institute moving, meaning that, as a result, marketing them is vital for the survival of the Institute.. The attractiveness of the product to the consumers is determined by how well they play their games.

Price

Pricing is a major factor in enhancing the success of a business (Brooks (1994, p. 35)). Pricing should reflect consumer value. Currently the arena is never full, reduction of prices will ensure that more people will be willing to pay for the tickets and fill the arena. VIPs are normally not affected by the increase in price as they consider it to be more prestigious. A.I.S pricing and tickets should cater for the needs of all consumers.

The ticket price for adults will reduce by 3% while that of VIPs will increase by 5%. This is so for all the spectators of the competition events held every year. By doing so, more spectators are expected to come and fill the arena to maximum. The overall outcome is that the adjustment in prices will increase the profits by a significant percentage.

Another major adjustment in the price will be the tickets for individuals who use A.I.S facilities. The current records show that the numbers of people paying to use the resources have decreased since prices were increased. This calls for strategic measures with an aim of winning back the consumers and adding more. The number of people who attend the swimming pools has reduced, while the number of customers who attend gymnastics has increased significantly.

The main reason for this is market segmentation. More children visit the swimming pools, whereas more adults use the gymnastic resources. Many children cannot afford to pay higher prices for swimming pools, while adults can easily afford paying for the gymnastics training. The prices for children visiting swimming pools will be reduced significantly to accommodate more children who will be attracted by the affordable prices. The prices for the gymnastics discipline will remain the same since consumers are used to the prices offered for using these facilities.

Place

Distribution of products at the right place and at the right time can improve the entire institute and put it at a competitive advantage over the competitors (Baker (2010, p. 65)). To achieve this, market research will be conducted to ensure achievement of the whole strategy. Weather forecasts can greatly aid in recognizing the best time and place to hold events. Some events are better held in summer while others are best offered during the winter season.

Research on the best times to practice and hold events will ensure high performance of the institute as the desired outcome. For example, skiing is best done during winter when there is abundant snow, whereas swimming events are best suited in the summer period when the weather is sunny and warm. Strategic management of events in this way will attract more competitors and spectators at the venues of the events and improve the Institute’s performance.

Promotion

The role played by promotion is very crucial and needs to be implemented effectively to enhance the Institute (Kaser and Oelker (2008, p. 42)). Promotion involves communication of the product’s ability to satisfy the needs of the customer through various methods including; advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, public relations, sponsorship and, promotional licensing.

A.I.S advertisements will be distributed through the media – both electronic and print. The adverts will be done in a very captivating way to capture the attention of consumers. It will be done through the most popular media channels so as to ensure majority people get the information on the A.I.S. The advertisements will target the most popular programs as there is a greater likelihood that many people will receive the required information on the Institute.

Using popular celebrities and models attracts the attention of consumers as they would like to be associated with them. Advertisements will consume a huge amount of money but essentially, they are a necessary risk.

Other promotional methods will be equally used. More sales representatives will be employed to sell the institute and increase sales significantly. Fliers, brochures and handouts containing information about A.I.S will be distributed to all corners of the country. People with knowledge and good public relations will be used to educate people on the facilities and services offered by A.I.S. Another major factor that will promote the institute is the use of internet. Currently, there is information on the internet about the A.I.S including Wikipedia. However, the information is not adequate. More information on the A.I.S needs to be put on the internet for more people all over the world to access the same.

Physical Evidence

The physical appearance or the aesthetic value of any institute has a great capability of attracting new consumers while maintaining the existing ones (Kotler 1997, p. 144). With this in mind, the A.I.S will be restructured and renovated to make it more appealing to the eye of consumers. This strategy will increase consumer consumption as many people are attracted to aesthetic value exhibited in a place. Qualified engineers and designers will be consulted to improve the aesthetic value of the whole institute. Re engineering definitely consume a huge sum of money so a good budget needs to be effectively implemented. This project is also expected to attract more international tourists.

People

People are responsible for delivering various events and most importantly, a major distinguishing factor in the process of consumption (Smith et al. 2002, p. 78). In other words, they are the focus of the A.I.S events without which there would be no event. Concentrating the efforts toward people, who in the case of the A.I.S, are the spectators, will improve greatly the institute as expected. Comfort of the facilities will be enhanced to come up with a people cantered institute. A sports institute that does not focus on people’s interests is inefficient and at risk of decline. Therefore, all efforts to cater for the needs of the spectators and other people using the facilities should be delivered optimally.

Conclusion

Efficient implementation of the plan will improve A.I.S institute by the end of year 2022. Meeting of the objectives and implementation of the action programs will ensure that the institute becomes one of the best sports institutes in the world. Essentially it meets all the needs of the consumers both nationally and internationally.

References

Baker, M., 2010, The Strategic Marketing Plan Audit: a detailed top management review of every aspect of your company’s marketing strategy, Axminster, Devon, Campridge Strategy Publ.

Brooks, C., 1994, Sports marketing: competitive business strategies for sports, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

Kaser, K & Oelkers, D., 2008, Sports and entertainment marketing, Thomson South-Western, Mason.

Kotler, P., 1997, Marketing Management: Analysis, planning, implementation and control, (9 edn.), Prentice Hall, New York.

Lancaster, G & Massingham, L., 1996, Strategic Marketing Planning and Evaluation, Kogan Page, New York.

McDonald, M & Payne, A., 1996, Marketing Planning for Services, Butterworth- Heinemann, London.

Mcdonald, M., 2011, Marketing plans: how to prepare them, how to use them, John Wiley Chichester.

Morgan, M & Summers, J., 2005, Sports marketing, Thomson, Southbank, Vic.

Smith, P, Berry, C & Pulford, A., 2002, Strategic marketing communications: New ways to build and integrate communications, Kogan Page, London.

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