52 Tips for the Reluctant Marketer - A Weekly Marketing Guide

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For an organization concerned with implementing its strategy 40 Preparing for the Market ing Strategy rather than simply formulating it, stakeholders may hold one of the keys to success. Apart from the evolutionists with their particular brand of commercial Darwinism, all schools of strategy see the vision as central to any form of worthwhile strategy or plan. Again it centres on the key implementers.


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This vision, sometimes written, more often than not implicit and mutually understood, needs to be clarified and defined before taking the process any further. Henry Mintzberg Observer, London, 12 June has been quoted as saying: Many of the great strategies are simply great visions.

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Visions can be a lot more inspirational and effective than the most carefully constructed plan. Only when we recognise our fantasies can we begin to appreciate the wonders of reality. The vision is not the same as an objective because it is not normally quantified. Rather it is a picture of what the future of the organization looks like. Vision enables the organization to set a broad strategic direction and leaves the details of its implementation to be worked out later. It has been argued by Mintzberg and others that the visionary approach is a more flexible way to deal with an uncertain world.

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Importantly, details of implementation are left vague to allow for operational change as market and economic conditions change in time and geography. No matter how scientific, logical, rational and elegant the eventual plan, if it conflicts with the personal values of the key team, the business objective will not be achieved. The key implementers may ignore the plan; they might sabotage the plan or even leave the organization.

In the absence of a clear vision articulated or not , the organization will probably be in trouble.


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Without some light to guide it, the organization will flounder aimlessly. A vision is categorically not the same thing as a financial target see Section 1. Having said this, organizations without a vision are really quite rare. The vision may be unclear, ragged around the edges or even rather too emotional for senior managers to admit to — but it is normally there.

It is often better to dig deep to find what makes people come into work in the mornings than to go through the often pointless exercise of trying to create a vision from scratch; what people are happy to put down on paper may not be what they are really willing to fight for. Putting together the vision statement can be quite a lengthy process of discussion within the organization.

Indeed, practical experience suggests that visions that emerge like a brand new car model from behind the locked doors of the senior management group tend to be less effective than visions that emerge from discussions that involve staff and the other stakeholders that affect the organization.

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So we are faced with the inevitable long discussion period that will produce a multitude of views, feelings and beliefs from all sectors. Unfortunately, this lengthy discussion period is also likely to generate a mission statement that runs to not one but maybe two or more closely typed pages. If we have to keep, preserve and enshrine the full-blown version for official use in the annual report and accounts, then so be it.

This page intentionally left blank 2 The external environment It is very important. It is necessary to have all reconnaissances made at the Topographical Bureau of War in order that we could, if necessary, send the generals all suitable instructions. Then, from the commencement of war, they would know the defensive campaign fieldworks that will have to be prepared in the various positions in case of unfortunate developments.

Napoleon Bonaparte In Chapter 1, we tried to uncover the most important internal drivers of the business. If the organization has a mission statement or a clearly articulated vision, this will help us focus our attention on the more important aspects of the external environment Figure 2.

Knowing that information must be gathered is one thing, knowing how much and what to gather is quite another. We will deal with such issues in much more detail in Part Two see Chapter 6, sections 6. Napoleon Bonaparte We will deal with the whole question of customer orientation and organizational culture in much more detail in Part Two see Chapter 6. For the moment though, we will consider this question from the data-gathering perspective. When it comes to the customer and market orientation of the business, Mintzberg is as myopic as other strategy writers, concentrating for the most part on how strategic planners do, or should do, their job.

A state of mind that is inward looking rather than outward looking not only chooses to uncover the wrong data from the environment, but is also most likely to misinterpret the data which is collected.

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This emphasis will become clear as we progress through the book. Napoleon Bonaparte Auditing the environment in which the organization must operate is arguably the most important and most significant data-gathering activity that any business, firm, The external environment 45 service or even government department can undertake. Ten or twenty years ago, managers could turn round, with some degree of justification, and say that they had the market tied up.

They may not have been completely satisfied but more often than not they had no real choice in the matter. More dangerously, some chief executives are still saying the same thing today. In the UK, the USA and the majority of the western world, the s and s was the era of the large corporation. Size and economies of scale were everything during this time.

With size, naturally enough, came power to control. Size gave corporations the ear of government, always concerned with balance of payments, international trade and, of course, employment. It also followed that, compared with these issues, the satisfaction of the individual customer was considered relatively unimportant.

The net result was that the larger corporations had a degree of real control over the environment in which they operated — and they used it. The s saw the beginning of a shift in power away from the producer towards the customer, ignited by the work of Ralph Nader and others. In the s, this trend accelerated. The late s saw a brief displacement as the dot-com era suggested that they had discovered new rules of economics and sales revenue and profits were no longer measures of business success.

Meanwhile, international trade has become more liberal and the barriers to international competition have started to be dismantled as more governments seek actively to promote competition in national marketplaces — well apart from agriculture and steel and where are the political marginal seats at the moment? What the early consumerist movement started has now produced a greater degree of choice for the customer and in many instances a reduction in the absolute market share of the larger corporations.

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With the wider range of products and services in 46 Preparing for the Market ing Strategy the market, customers have had to learn how to evaluate and choose among the competing offerings and as a result have become more sophisticated in the exercise of that choice. While there still remain examples of markets where free choice really does not yet operate British and European banking, fixed line telecommunications and public utilities, among others, still have a long way to go , generally organizations today do not and will not be able to control the environment in which they operate.

The environment will control them. It is only by achieving a much better understanding of its environment that the organization can possibly hope to establish its market position and flourish over the longer term. Another of those words which, of course, means everything and nothing. We must break it down into its most important constituent parts or we will once again get lost in a morass of unnecessary detail. Remember, at this stage, we are still concerned with the overall problem of discovering what is going on in the broad business and social environment, within which the organization must operate.

We need to understand how we should position the organization relative to its competition and likely future shifts in marketplace demand. The more detailed analysis of specific target markets is not pertinent at this point; this will be considered in more depth later see Chapter 6. Political Technological Environmental Figure 2. These are explained in slightly more detail below. These relate to the question of Competition and the specific analysis of the industry within which the organization operates and the Customer.

These two sub-headings are important today, so much so that they should have a separate place in the information-gathering phase. We will deal with these two subjects later see Chapter 6.

To these six headings, you may wish to add a further two — International and Environmental. While twenty years ago, an organization might justifiably have maintained a purely domestic and non-environmental stance, the nature of competition and customer demand have forced us all to look beyond our traditional frontiers. Also, nobody can ignore the environmental issues that governments will make sure we have to face in the future. You might also decide to add a seventh heading that is particular to your business.