Professor Rotfeld
Auburn University, Alabama
Term Paper Assignment

Based on an assessment of the client's mass communication needs and possible audience reactions, you will recommend communication goals, plus mass media and message strategies to attain those goals. The focus of the assignment is on your strategic recommendations and (more importantly) your pragmatic and research-based reasons why you think they might be the optimal approach.

The paper must present a tight, logical, step-by-step assessment, such that each section is based on your discussion of information and materials that came before it and all data presented must be relevant for decision making. Do not write lists or bullet points. For the entire paper (except for the reference list and optional appendices), you are to write in prose form, with sentences and paragraphs.

Below is the outline you are to follow in writing the paper, with each bold <> numbered item a major subhead, and each letter item in bold a minor subhead.  The rest of the statements in regular type describes the information that should be included in the discussion.

<1> MARKETING EXPECTATIONS. A short specific statement of the client's priorities and concerns.
[See the videos on the project for more details, particularly the just-instructor-and-camera video segments that goes step by step through the project outline. Realistically, most subject businesses wouldn't be able to tell you marketing goals as described in the readings and class. At best, they could tell you what they think they can do in the coming year. For example, a small motorcycle dealer would say how many new bikes they sell, or used bikes, how much in equipment, and so on. For the project, this preamble is to be a couple sentences that most of the time can be assessed by just looking around the place, giving me a statement of the type of place you studied, the mix of products or services that drive their revenue. In other words, what are they? This is not asking for a textbook statement of marketing goals, but a more general grounding in stating what the business is in making the project about a real business.]

A. Product Features
An analysis of the client's attributes and how those features are (or might be) perceived by present and potential customers. This is not a list of features and should be a critical review.

B. Present & Potential Customers. Tied to <1> and <2>A, analysis of the "types" of people who are customers, possibly in terms of benefit segments of what gets them to buy the first time & what brings them back. As the basis for mass communications decisions, emphasis must be placed on mental perspectives (beliefs & benefits desired). As explained in class, demographic data are only necessary for media tactics, and this project is focused on strategy, any reference to demographic variables should be minimal. Since the original research directions are very small scale, the results are qualitative, not quantitative, but that does not mean the report has license to be haphazard.

A. Target Audience
. Based on <2>, recommendation of primary target audience and why it was selected. Again, since this is for communications, emphasis must be in terms of consumers' frames of reference and benefits, as well as relevant demographic data that might correlate with those segments. This must be based on situation analysis and provide a pragmatic and relevant basis for decisions.

B. Communications Objectives. A specific and measurable statement, with your logic and rationale for why these specific goals should be used. Based on the situation analysis, and as will be explained in class, you will need to use a model of consumer decision making for relating the communications goals to buyer behavior of the marketing goals. The discussion in this section needs to have adequate detail to provide guidance for your strategy recommendation. Accordingly, this section is the core of the paper and provides the basis for all that follows in section <4>. [As we will discuss in class, there are many useful consumer behavior models of their decision making that could link communications goals and the final consumer actions that underlie marketing goals, but we want the term paper to focus on decision making, not the value of different consumer psychology models. Therefore, despite its limitations as a model of consumer decisions, the goals will be stated in terms of the basic Hierarchy of Effects. More details on this will be explained in class.]

A. Creative Strategy
. Determination of message strategy that would be the central theme and message of the campaign. This copy platform must be both realistic and tied to communications goals, and should include: image to develop, engender and/or reinforce; how primary benefit(s) can be "creatively" conveyed to the target; and central appeal(s) to be made. Remember, the goal is to develop a coherent image for the client that is based on: a) how present or potential customers can realistically perceive the client; and b) what the customers consider important benefits.

B. Media Strategy, tied to communications goals, it should  include: (a) Selected allocation to media classes & your justifications; (b) A general statement of reach, frequency, continuity and size of messages; and, (c) Qualitative factors of media selections to optimize communications. Any discussions of relevant usage of publicity also fits under the media mix.

C. References: List of references of secondary non-textbook sources cited in body of paper.

D. (Optional) Appendix: Example of communications message tactics as an example of how the strategy would be executed. However, it is important to remember that the focus of concern of the project is on a proposed strategy.

E. (Optional) Appendix: Details of research materials not used for other parts of the report.