The marketing pyramid Featured

11:39am EDT July 31, 2002

Recently, I was introduced to a company -- let's call it Sylvia's -- that I admire for the way it has constructed its marketing plan. It sells health and beauty services and products to upscale customers.

It's been around for a decade and is going strong.

Sylvia's marketing plan takes the shape of a pyramid, with a few well-defined goals at the top and tactics and actions at the base. In the middle is a well-thought-out set of strategies, arrived at after considerable research and planning.

Sylvia's knows its objectives and how it will measure success. It intends to be the most sought-after day spa in a 100-mile radius, and it wants to be very profitable. Strategies include using and selling only the most exclusive products and making each customer feel like the most important one.

Hand-in-hand with those strategies is keeping prices high so it can attract and keep the best employees.

The tactical part of Sylvia's marketing pyramid includes things you can touch -- techniques that allow it to implement its strategies. The building is decorated in soft, tranquil colors. It has valet parking only. Accessories like robes, slippers, gowns and towels are of the highest quality.

Complimentary beverages and snacks are served, and an extensive library is provided. The staff is dressed in attractive but soft uniforms, all well-groomed and professional and using quiet speech to create an unparalleled experience of relaxation and well-being for the customer.

No prices are listed. If customers ask, they are given a brochure that discreetly includes pricing.

Any marketing pyramid must include the metrics that will be used to measure success. Sylvia's has been around for 10 years, and has enjoyed a profit margin of at least 18 percent each year. More than 58 percent of its staff has been there for eight years or more.

Sylvia's no longer takes walk-ins; it's so busy it maintains a waiting list for most services on most days.

Its third goal is to develop a business model that can be repeated in other locations. It is about to test it by opening additional spas.

I think it has a good shot at reaching that goal. Andrea Fitting is CEO of Fitting Group, a Pittsburgh-based agency that specializes in helping companies transition to deregulated markets.