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Ten Step Marketing Plan Template

Created by

Sequent Learning Networks


New York, NY
www.sequentlearning.com
(800) 606-2777 or (212) 647-9100

This Marketing Plan Template is provided by Sequent Learning Networks in the interest
of marketing education. Building the skills of those responsible for creating, managing
and marketing products & services can contribute to improvements in team
communication, business decision making, product profitability, and marketplace
success.

For further information and guidance, or if your company needs assistance in product
planning, product strategy, training or consulting services, please call Sequent Learning
Networks at 212-647-9100.

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Introduction

The purpose of this document is to provide you with the basic framework for creating a
marketing plan by describing the intent of the marketing plan and describing the general
steps you’ll need to take to create a marketing plan.

Marketing planning is a complex, cross-functional process. It is made up of a series of


interlocking activities and tasks. It should not be a hastily assembled set of programs
that are easy or convenient for the organization to carry out. For example, it is very
easy to have a marketing communications group design and conduct a series of
advertising activities to drive lead generation because the sales teams don’t have
enough prospects. However, if this lead generation activity is not considered within a
broader context of marketing strategies, the outcomes may not yield results of any
significance to the firm.

It should be understood that in marketing planning should be conceived and executed


within a broad corporate or organizational strategic context. Whether you’re running a
small business or you work in a big company, all businesses have some kind of
strategy. To that end, if you are in a big company, there are typically higher level
strategies (‘to grow our revenue by 25% in Europe within three years’), to business unit
strategies (‘to create two new product lines to sell to consumers in France and one new
line in the UK’), to product line strategies (‘to use the new abc platform and designs to
acquire new customers in market segment A and to target replacement purchases to
market segment B).

In an ideal world, strategies at all levels of the organization should be well articulated
and understood. Interpretation of these strategies can then result in realistic, well-
defined marketing plans and programs which can be created and acted upon. In some
firms, strategies are not fully understood or are misinterpreted, leading to ill conceived
marketing plans and programs.

In today’s competitive marketplace, consumers and businesses have many choices


available to them to solve personal or business problems. Organizations can have a
greater chance of being successful if they develop deep understanding of markets and
the customers within those markets. Successful companies are expert at identifying
customer needs in a variety of ways. They just don’t ask customers about their
problems – they observe, probe, and draw inferences from those observations. These
successful companies are acutely aware of their competitors and try to figure out, not
just how to beat them but how to better satisfy the needs of those customers whose
needs they believe are paramount. Market focus, therefore, is critical in the formulation
of marketing plans. Deciding who to pursue runs as an undercurrent to all plans and
programs.

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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The marketing plan then, is a dynamic document which focuses on bringing marketing
strategies to life, serving as a roadmap for carrying out marketing activities and
implementing marketing strategies. It is a multi-step process, which considers the
following:

1) Formulating a strategy of your company or your division and making sure that
appropriate linkages are made between company strategy and marketing
activity planning.
2) Analyzing the environment within which you do business to make sure you
consider the marketplace, the industry, competitors, and other influences.
3) Carrying out market profiling, enabling you to identify market segment, target
customer types, and overall demand. Additionally, analysis of the industry and
competitors, coupled with analysis of customer types, enables the creation of
demand possibilities and the resulting forecasts. It also allows you to formulate
appropriate value propositions, and to position the product’s key benefits to the
target audience, and finally, why a customer would choose your solution versus
the competition. and expressing key values and benefits to the target audience
4) The marketing mix, which considers a combination of activities which come
together harmoniously, in bringing the product to market and sustaining it while
in the market, which includes:
i. Deciding on which products meet the need of identified market targets
ii. Pricing those products so that the true, competitive value is recognized
by the market targets.
iii. Defining promotional programs to reach those targets, which can include
communications and advertising programs.
iv. Creating channels to effectively distribute your products to your target
audience.
5) Determining who you’ll need to work with in successfully bringing the product to
market, including sales teams (to make sure that volumes can be attained),
6) Launching new products or product line extensions as needed.
7) Training the sales force to competitively position the product or service.
8) Budgeting of marketing programs so that the appropriate sales goals and
corporate strategies can be attained.
9) Executing on the plan - creating marketing project plans, and understanding
dependencies on other organizations. Also included are measurements to
determine the success of your marketing activities.
10) Identifying risks.

Each of these sections are covered in the pages that follow:

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 1 – Define the Strategy

Strategy is carried out as a multi-step process, defined as:

1) Assessing the current situation (where you are)


2) Identifying the desired end state or goal (where you want to be)
3) Mapping a path to achieve the goal (the strategy)
4) Creating measurements to determine success factors
5) Re-assessing the situation and revise the strategy

Each is described below:

SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and


threats. The overarching goal of SWOT is to determine where the company’s
products, services, or product lines fit within the context of the internal and the
external environments. Conducting this analysis helps you to figure out where it is
today, and where it needs to be in the future. Use this table to organize the elements

Strengths (what you’re really good at) Opportunities (how to leverage your strengths)

Weaknesses (where you’re falling short) Threats (your vulnerabilities due to your
weaknesses or competitor strengths)

An outcome of the SWOT analysis is to help you define what you’re good at and to
leverage those strengths to determine the opportunities you might be able to take
advantage of. Weaknesses reveal your vulnerabilities. By harnessing this data, you’ll
have a way to validate and guide your marketing investments. From this exercise, you
can also derive some key marketing objectives which carry through to the next exercise.

The ultimate goal is to uncover opportunities on which your company can capitalize.

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 2 – Business Environment Analysis

Analyzing the business environment is situated as Step 2 in this template to


emphasize its importance in data gathering. Steps 1 and 2, formulating strategy and
business environment analysis can actually go hand in hand. The reason is that
these are surveying techniques that allow you to put the information into perspective.
Business environment analysis actually can help feed SWOT analyses. The reason
for this is that the business environment influences your strategies. For example, an
competitive threat influences how you identify or prioritize new opportunities.

Marketing professionals often refer to environmental analysis as ‘scanning.’ Business


environmental analysis is not a one-time event; it is an on-going effort. It is incumbent
on team members to adopt a focus on scanning the horizon and be constantly on the
look out for shifts and changes. Since the marketplace is always changing, your
awareness helps you to understand business drivers and evolving customer needs,
which leads to the identification of market opportunities, alert you to potential problems
with customers, competitors, and the industry in general. Another area on which you
may with to focus when deriving strategies for products or markets has to do with
understanding of Key Business Issues – what are the compelling issues impacting
current marketing strategies and programs? Are there overwhelming issues relating to
unmet demand or business need which has been uncovered?

To help understand or visualizing business issues is to organize them in a table like the
one shown below. List each key business issue and each possible marketing strategy
which could be considered in relation to each business issue – and then list any
resource requirements. Summarize these in the table below:

Business Issues Summary Matrix

Business Issue Possible Marketing Resource requirements


strategy when the marketing
programs are
assembled

Finally, write your business environment analysis based on the data you collect and
make sure it’s aligned with the opportunities identified in your SWOT.

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© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 3 – Market Profiling

Market profiling involves the market research that needs to be carried out. The
ultimate goal is to identify the attractiveness of the marketplace and the competitive
posture you wish to assume. From this, you can determine the ultimate demand for
your product or service with respect to market share, revenue potential, and
ultimately, the profitability of your products and services. Market profiling is made up
of the following activities:

1) Analyzing the industry in which your company compete. Here are some
approaches to identifying the characteristics of the industry:

a. Identify if there are any political issues in the geographic area of interest.
b. Determine the general state of the economy.
c. Understand any of the societal trends or issues which may be prevalent in
your area of interest.
d. Consider the state of the technologies used in this market space
e. Secure actual growth rates of the industry using visuals to show the trend
lines.
f. Find out if there are any trends you can discern being used within this
industry space.
g. Determine how products and services are actually delivered from supplier
to customer.

2) Understanding the competitors with whom you compete. In order to carry


this out, here are some suggestions:

a. Make a list of competitors, along with the products they offer. Can you
determine the total revenue of all competitors combined? This could
give you a rough estimate of the size of the overall marketplace.
b. Determine the brand images of each of the competitors.
c. Identify how each of the products are positioned in the market and with
respect to other competitors.
d. Find out who their suppliers are.
e. Determine the number of employees on staff, and whether they are
hiring more people or cutting back, and why.
f. Make a list of the kinds of activities they engaged in over the past year
or two. For example, did they introduce new products, adjust their
prices, embark on advertising campaigns, etc.
i. Take this list and figure out what you think they might do next,
and…
ii. Make a list of the kinds of things you might want to compete.
g. Use the following table to create a profile for each competitor:

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Name of Name of Product Estimated Market What is the What are the Why should a customer
Competitor or Products Share (and strategy of this weaknesses of the choose our product over
supporting competitor with product? Is the the competition?
assumptions) respect to this competitor
product? vulnerable?

3) Identifying market segments and ultimate customers to pursue. Market


segments represent groupings of customer types who have similar needs.
Market segmentation helps the product manager or marketing manager to tailor a
specific marketing mix to satisfy the needs of a group of customers (a segment).
Market targets are sub-groups with similar needs. For each of the following
exercise, you may be broadly defining market segments, or defining market
targets within those segments. The more finely focused your efforts, that is, on
your target markets, the more focused your marketing programs will be. Since
customers are driven by needs (problems that need to be solved), your complete
understanding of these segments, and the targeted groups will help you with
more finely tuned marketing programs. Use this questioning technique to help
you:

a. Name the segment or segments


i. Use age, geography, or other means
• Example – People living in the northeast states
b. Define the target
i. Use more detailed categorizations
• Example – Employed males aged 50-60 living in New York
State with incomes over $75,000
c. Define the buying process. Depending on the kind of product and the
market (business to consumer products versus business to business
products), you need to be able to define how people make purchasing
decisions. In businesses, the decision maker may be different than the
actual user of the product. Consumers, depending on whether the product
is a daily staple, durable necessity (cars, appliances, etc.), or impulse
item, the buying process is different.

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4) Forecasting sales volumes and market share. Most people equate forecasting
to short-term estimates of sales or unit volumes. Forecasting to evaluate market
opportunities and potential profitability is a long-range planning activity and is
more complex. The reason becomes clear when considering that all businesses
try to create forecasts so they can put business and marketing programs into
perspective. For example, marketing programs may require periodic investments
or product groups may be considering the launch of a new or improved product,
or businesses may be considering expansion into new markets. Therefore, key
decisions are made based on forecasts. Unfortunately, most forecasts are
inaccurate. That’s because they are forecasts. It is a difficult task at best
especially in industries where market conditions can change rapidly.

However, we can try to minimize the errors of forecasting by trying to understand


as much about the market environment as possible so that we can determine if
there is a market for a product or service, where that market is and how much of
it can be captured over what period of time? Once the market is understood and
believed to be attractive, one can then determine what investment should be
made in marketing activities to access that market. Your market share forecasts
may be driven by some of the following (although these will vary by industry and
market):

a. The maximum number of customers in a market area


b. The number of customers whose needs create an interest in specific
products and services
c. The rate at which customers actually use products
d. The affordability of products being offered
e. The value and benefits of the products being offered

If you were running an airport and wanted to find out the probability of success
for a retail store selling travel supplies and impulse items, you might need to
find out how many passengers go through the airport every day. You would
need to understand the number of planes, their capacity and schedules in
order to figure out how many people would actually be passing through a
given area, and then make assumptions about the number of people who
would have an interest in shopping in that store. Further, you would want to
figure out how much an average purchase might be in that store and multiply
that amount by the number of people who you believe might go into that store.
This is just the beginning…

Without further elaboration, it can be seen that the research involved in market
profiling is critical. You need to understand the industry, the competitors and
potential customers to understanding the size of the market for the opportunities in
which you are interested.

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© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 4 – Marketing Mix

Once the market segments and the market targets are determined, actionable elements
of the marketing plan can be uncovered. The Marketing Mix is a commonly used term
appearing in many marketing publications and is used widely by marketing managers
and product managers to describe the framework for actual marketing plans and
programs for a company. To describe the marketing mix, one expression has become
predominant – the 4Ps, which include:
• Product – a complete description of the product, its attributes, and how its
benefits and value are positioned in the marketplace.
• Price – A translation of the value or willingness of a customer to pay for the
product.
• Promotion – how customers are informed about the product or how businesses
communicate benefits, value, pricing actions, or product attributes.
• Place (distribution channels) – the manner in which businesses deliver products
to customers.
The marketing plan should contain a description of all of the elements of the marketing
mix. Imagine that each P is a lever in a ‘marketing machine.’ As the product moves
through the market, the product team and/or marketing managers will be making
adjustments to those ‘levers’ of the marketing mix. The goal for this section of the
marketing plan is to define each of the elements of the marketing mix and how those
elements will come together in a cogent plan.

In managing the Marketing Mix, it is important to understand that no one lever is pulled
on its own. These levers are adjusted in a synchronized, holistic manner in response to
a variety of observed conditions or data about market conditions. For example, your
promotional mix may be made up of a series of print advertising campaigns, events, and
email advertising. Your pricing programs may include promotional tie-ins and discounts,
and your promotional campaigns may focus only on select channels..

Additionally, your marketing mix activities should be accompanied by market driven


metrics. Metrics may focus on things like customer satisfaction, revenue growth, market
share, customer retention rates, etc. Your company may establish many metrics which
may need to be modeled or analyzed using simulations or sensitivity studies to show
how one specific marketing mix model and the variables which may influence market
outcomes.

Key practices to consider in the marketing mix are the creation of value propositions
and in positioning the product. The Value Proposition is used to define and prove the
economic or strategic benefit of the product or service for a given target market. It must
be expressed in the customer’s terms. The proof should be expressed clearly (e.g.,
improves revenue, saves time by…, improves operating efficiencies by…., enables
more rapid decision making with…ensures higher levels of quality or integrity

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The Product Positioning Statement is a tool to describe how you wish your company
and your product to be perceived by your target audience. You may wish to start with a
statement describing your company or your division: Who are you? (your company,
business unit?) – as an optional contextual opening statement. This is particularly useful
if you combine company positioning (as advocated by Ries & Trout) with product
positioning.

To prepare your positioning statement you need:

1) The name of the product


2) The target market
3) An understanding of the needs of that market and how those needs are to be satisfied
with your product or service
4) How your product or service is better than that of the competition.

Step 5 – Resources Identification

None of the elements of a marketing plan can be carried out unless the contributions
of all resources are known and understood. Depending on the size of the company
and degree of specialization, the resources should be identified, the known work
items should be defined, and the timelines and schedules should be clear to all
stakeholders. Here is a template to use with an example

Name/Department Deliverable Date Dependency


John Doe Brochure June 30 • Product description from
product management
• Legal review
• Quality dept. review

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 6 – Launching Products and/or Services

If the marketing plan includes the introduction of a new product, a line-extension, or


derivative, a formal launch plan should be established. The product launch is an intense
series of activities and tasks that actually begins in the early product development
phase. The product launch should be treated as a complex project with a variety of
dates and deliverables, and is a representation of the confluence of development and
marketing activities, and is best achieved through efficient cross-functional team
interactions. There are complex dependencies between cross-functional team
members.

In the table below, the launch plan activities (deliverables) are shown by function, with the
appropriate start and end dates. Of utmost importance is the understanding by all functional
launch team members, are the dependencies of one team on another. The synchronization of
tasks, activities, and deliverables is critical to achieve an on-time launch. You will want to
create a plan similar to this for your products.

Product Launch Start End Resp Dependency on other Risks


Deliverables date date org. or functions or needed
person information
Marketing
- Collateral
- Promotions
- Events
- PR
Customer Service
- Call Center Set up
- Staffing
- Training
Finance
- Metrics
- Systems
Sales
- Training
- Staffing
Product Devel.
- Product testing
- Quality

Ten Step Marketing Plan Template


© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 7 – Training the Sales force

As products and services evolve, the sales force should have updated information and training
so they are prepared to qualify customers and represent the value and benefits provided by the
products and services they represent. Whether or not the sales force is direct or indirect, they
need to be equipped with the right tools to drive the revenue objectives of the firm. This section
is devoted to defining the work needed to help the sales force to sell. It should be written simply
and concisely and in an objective style, and should include:

• The markets on which you’re focusing


• Overviews about the products, services, or solutions overviews they’ll be selling
• Methods to qualify opportunities and to understand customer needs
• Methods to capture the customer’s attention by providing compelling value propositions
• Positioning for the product against the competition
• Customer references
• Resources where more information is available for sales teams

1) Selling Strategy – Provide a paragraph or some bullets that can be used to help the
sales teams to be successful

2) Describe the product, service or solution. If there are simple diagrams or product
architectures, they should be included here. Furthermore, provide the following:

a. List price and possible discounts


b. A marketplace summary, including segments, targets, and ideal customer
profiles. Also, help them to identify key buyers, users, influencers, or decision
makers, if the situation warrants this.
c. The availability dates, which correspond to the established market windows.

3) Teach the Sales force to get the customer’s attention and get them excited about what’s
being offered. Each target group has a specific set of needs. These were identified
during the market segmentation and targeting. Compelling information which serves to
surprise customers and prospects because of your knowledge and understanding of
their specific issues and challenges will be highly beneficial to establishing rapport. The
following sub-sections establish this framework for you, and were described in other
parts of this marketing plan.
.
a. A description of the market segment and the target groups in this segment
b. Listing of observed customer issues and challenges, which may be articulated as
‘needs.’
c. The value proposition (see earlier sections on this topic) which can be used to
describe the benefits of the product, service or solution
d. The positioning statement. Pay particular attention to your advantages versus the
competition.
e. An analysis of the competition

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Step 8 – Budgeting

No marketing or business plan is complete without a financial plan. The budgets established for
this marketing plan should be prepared within the context of the financial targets for the firm.
Furthermore, the financial plan establishes some of the metrics against which actual
performance will be evaluated as the plan is executed.

Here is a sample profit and loss statement with a more detailed view of the marketing plans and
programs magnified, to show how these marketing budgets are integrated with the financial
plan. The numbers are fictitious and are used for demonstration purposes only.

SALES PLAN
- Number of Units 1,000
- Price/Unit $ 5.00
- Total Sales $ 5,000 Marketing Budget:
COST OF GOODS SOLD (COGS) Print Advertising: 50
- Number of Units Sold 1000
Direct Mail: 30
- Cost per unit $2.00
- Total Costs of Goods Sold $ 2,000
Printing: 15
eMail Newsletters: 20
Gross Margin $3,000 PR Team: 25
GM % 60% Marketing Strategy: 85
Events: 40
DIRECT EXPENSES Premiums: 15
- Marketing 350 Promo Discounts 20
- R&D 500 Radio 30
- Sales 750
Training 20
- Depreciation 50
Total Expenses $1,650

Earnings Before Interest & Taxes $1,350


Interest Expense $35
Earnings Before Taxes $1,315
Income Taxes $250
Net Income (Profit) $1,065

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As a direct input to the P&L for the product or business, the marketing activities that are
intended to be carried out, require detailed budgets. Therefore, this table is provided. I will help
you in the creation of a budget for each intended marketing activity. It doesn’t mean that each
and every program will be carried out. These may need to be evaluated on a case by case
basis, depending on the state of the business, affordability, etc. Provide as much detail as you
can. Indicate any assumptions that you can to support each item.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total

Print
(trade periodicals, etc.)
Direct Mail (letter
shop/postage/printing)
E-mail
(list rental, email tools)
Premiums
(spell out details for each)
Events
(provide details)
Ad agency fees/creatives
(define each program)
Promotional discounts
Sales training
Radio/TV
Travel
Staffing

- Totals -

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Step 9 – Executing

Just like the Launch plan, the marketing plan is usually carried out by a number of
individuals from other business functions, or other groups within the marketing
department. If, for example, there is a pricing team, and their programs are dependent
on the advertising and promotion team’s work with outside agencies, their work plans
need to be coordinated and the associated dependencies identified. As the marketing
teams meet together, or with the cross-functional product team, the deliverables and
metrics should be fully understood so that program status and issues can be
communicated.

The table below can be used to define each marketing plan element, the committed
time frames, responsible department, etc. This can be used to both summarize all
deliverables in one place, so that programs can be tracked.

Marketing Date Due Responsible Issues and Risks Resolution


Plan Element Functional plan or
Department escalation
path
Magazine June 30 for Media Planning Agency and Will check by
Advertisement August Issue and Advertising Creative must be May 25 to make
done by June 10. if sure on target –
not, will miss if not, CMO will
deadline for contact head of
submission to agency.
magazine and will
miss August issue

Add more rows as needed to cover your


specific marketing activities

Measurements (or metrics)

Every dimension of the marketing plan requires an investment. Whether it’s carrying
out a research project or investing in a big advertisement. All activities are planned to
drive business. Therefore, measurements need to be put into place to determine
whether the investment yielded the intended results. Typical measurements might
consider:
- Did the marketing program generate the number of sales leads?
- Were the number of sales leads sufficient to create proposals which led to new
business?
- Did the advertisement generate more visits to the website?
- Did the new product generate higher levels of customer satisfaction?

It is up to the person, team, or organization to determine which metrics to use, the


frequency with which they are evaluated, and the follow on action plans which clarify
or redirect the business in deriving new marketing initiatives.

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© 2006 Sequent Learning Networks, Inc.
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Step 10 – Risk Analysis

As described, all operational elements and project plans need to come together
seamlessly, results tracked against performance metrics, and corrective actions taken.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. This section should be used to articulate the
risks and issues that may emerge if deadlines aren’t met or results aren’t achieved.

The mere mention of these items is only the first step. The real challenge is to define
the alternative action plans should a specific condition be encountered

Conclusion

A marketing plan, like other plans, is a roadmap, enabling a business to define its
current situation (where are we?), its goals (where do we want to go?) and the path
to get there (the marketing strategy and the tactical plans, as represented by the
marketing mix). Carrying out this process requires a degree of discipline, structure,
and some creativity. It cannot be emphasized enough that market profiling and
research be carried out on an ongoing basis. The marketplace is filled with so many
dynamics, that by not paying attention, you could lose your competitive advantage.

For additional information, contact Sequent Learning Networks, your trusted source
for marketing and product management training and advisory services.

www.sequentlearning.com

Suggested reading list:

Selling the Invisible (Beckwith)


Positioning, the Battle for Your Mind (Ries and Trout)
Crossing the Chasm (Moore)
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries & Competitors (Porter)
Competitor Intelligence (Fuld)

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