Although many, aspects of Industry have morphed and changed over the last, few decades, there are several outposts that continue to find their way. In spite of technological advances, process improvements, changing Market and Customer demands, fierce Competition and even the advent of the Internet and powerful, Marketing platforms – like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – the prevailing mindset has not changed dramatically.
In 1981, we submitted a manuscript to Harvard Business School for review and consideration. It was titled, “Market Technology: The Missing Link.”
It certainly would not rival Ted Leavitt’s “Marketing Myopia,” however Market Technology approached the fundamental issue differently and distinctively.
The actual manuscript was a “library of congress” class of document complete with concept overview, relevant models, heavy detailed, descriptors, case examples to demonstrate that the stuff had been applied to the real world, etc.
In its raw form – Market Technology advocated that companies must treat their marketing, sales and business development needs similarly to the way core engineering and product development are handled. Determining the right response and the right mix for a company’s marketing and sales programs is no different than determining a company’s products and services. In fact, conceiving effective programs is as complex and critical to the company’s success, as conceiving its product set. This meant that the Marketing discipline and process need to be integrated into the business. In fact, with small-to-medium, sized companies – the Market Program – is classified, as critical – in that, it could make or break a company.
For smaller firms – they must get it right – out-of-the-gate, and may not get a second chance.
This is one aspect that distinguishes smaller companies from their larger counterparts – as the larger firm can absorb a missed opportunity or loss more readily.
How many companies have you been associated with that thought and operated this way?
Market Technology represents a Mindset, framework, methodology, process orientation and an implementation -ready, program all rolled-up in one, complete package.
In your company, what role does Marketing play?
Most, will respond by indicating that Marketing plays a support role for either the product/service or to provide mainline support to the company’s Salesforce or Distribution Network (Channel Partners).
Reference will be made to Trade Show support, MarComm, collateral material, brochures, data sheets and even the dreaded “lead generation program.”
In your company, what is the stature of Marketing?
There are exceptions (depending on the Industry and Company make-up), however most will indicate that it is not a Leadership role (although the Marketing Team wants it to be).
What is the missing ingredient?
Is it that Senior Management did not come from the Marketing discipline and will not give it its day and cut it loose?
Is it that companies have experienced too, many false starts with their Marketing Program or it just doesn’t work?
Is marketing too, risky and costly compared to making investment in other areas of the company?
Is marketing viewed, as a luxury vs. a mainline contributor?
There is no silver bullet answer, although some combination of these factors may be the root to understand the dynamics going on here – in your company.
Let’s revisit the elements of the All-in-One package referenced above:
*The Mindset – we continually get bombarded with messages that advocate a company must migrate to a Market-Driven or Customer-Centric state – well, how many successful transitions have you been involved in or led?
The point is that this involves cultural and many times, organizational change – and that is not a small step, but a giant leap. It may demand shift changes in focus and direction, which may also have an impact on the make-up of the Senior Leadership Team.
It takes careful assessment, planning, timing and relentless dedication to pull something like this off, however the starting point is the Mindset. If there is need to infuse or change the company mindset to embrace Marketing – then it must start with the Top Dogs (Senior Leadership Team) and then filter into the organization. Although the mindset sounds like “soft science,” if the company environment is not ripe and receptive and the mindset is not understood and put to practice, then there is no need to invest any time, resource and effort into driving this forward. It’s a Dead stop!
*Framework/Methodology – most companies’ Marketing efforts look-like a disjointed, puzzle. The pieces are laid out and some fit, however it just doesn’t hang together. The reason for this is that the make-up of the Marketing Program is comprised of discrete events (activity-based) vs. a well-thought out, integrated Program (defined and driven by Strategic intent). Further, there are times when something is put in-place to satisfy the interests of the Top Dog or to appease the Sales Team – avoid these activities like the plague. They will not serve the organization well, deliver the desired results and most likely put a “black-eye” on the Marketing function or diminish its value.
When defining the baseline Marketing Program, it is useful to utilize a simple framework that identifies and breaks down the Marketing Sphere into its core elements: 1. Research (primary and secondary) 2. Market Planning and Strategizing (industry, market segment, application, customer, product, competition, pricing, packaging, etc.) 3. Market Program Development (consistent with Strategic Business Plan and critical priorities) 4. Advertising, promotions and communications (various platforms and vehicles – company capabilities, positioning, customer profiles, product coverage, etc.) 5. Sales Development (market, business, sales, product, etc.) 6. Product Management (market, technology and competition). There are other elements that can extend the framework, although these are the basic, building blocks.
The framework can be viewed, as a group of circles, where each element is inter-related (like a Venn diagram – math term). The circular flow is continuous and self-feeding. Market Research (the Homework), for example, can be integral to defining the profile and make-up of a Market Program – like a Product Launch Campaign or a Competitive Attack Program or building/developing a Strategic Alliance and Partner Network. To have a shot at developing effective, Marketing Programs – it is necessary for your firm to utilize a framework to guide the Marketing challenge. This will also assure that your program is fully-integrated from the get-go. This must be aligned with the Strategic Business Plan (and its priority set), although there are times, when implementing a tactically-driven, program has purpose and value. These are usually opportunity-driven. Once the framework is understood – program considerations are mapped-onto the framework to represent the make-up and selection of your Phase One Market Program. The driver for Program selection should be those challenges, opportunities or problem-set, which are critical to business success – not something that is neat to do. We have many clients that utilize a framework, which has streamlined the Marketing task and not let them down. With the framework, you can “walk before you run” – selecting a few, sample programs, putting them to the test and then extending your reach. Over time, mastering the framework and having all of the elements working in your business – is the target objective.