The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Big and Small

By Brian H Meredith

From the NZBusiness"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published November 2012 

I am increasingly of the view that our finest marketers are not our biggest businesses with the biggest budgets and, purportedly the biggest brains but are, rather, small businesses with limited resources.

Furthermore, I am increasingly of the view that it is smaller businesses, not major Brands, that really do “get” the concept of marketing, albeit that many may not realise that what they would regard as common sense is, in fact, at the core of the marketing concept.

Imagine for a moment that you are trying to deal with a really tricky issue with your bank, your telco provider, a utility provider or an airline for example. How easy, typically, is this experience likely to be?

Contrast that with dealing with a similarly tricky issue with a high street retailer, owned and operated independently. Would you expect a better attitude? Better process? Better outcome? I suspect you would.

Let’s consider another scenario – that bank, telco, utility of airline screws up a whole series of things for a whole bunch of customers. Would it damage their business permanently, irreversibly, significantly? Or would it simply be consigned to history with perhaps, at best, a hollow apology and a luke warm promise to do better next time.

Contrast that with the bar or restaurant that opens up in Ponsonby, Viaduct Harbour, Courtney Place or The Octagon and screws up a whole series of things for a whole bunch of customers. It would likely be out of business in a week.

But surely, I hear you say, this stuff is all about Customer Service, not Marketing? Well, yes, the examples I have given are about customer service but then customer service is a vital part of a business’s marketing understanding, market orientation, marketing state of mind and marketing effect. As is, in fact, just about everything else that a business says or does – it has a marketing effect, good or bad but never neutral.

And it makes sense that a small business, where the owner and operator is dramatically closer to the front line than the CEO or CMO of a big organisation, is going to understand, value and strive to implement policies, strategies and activities that place the customer at the centre of their universe. But that’s where the customer is, whether you realise it or not, acknowledge it or not, or like it or not – at the centre of your business universe. There is nowhere else that the money comes from.

A small business uses common sense to grasp this reality and to endeavour to reflect it in everything that they say and do. A big business is far more likely to become focussed on issues that are not market oriented and suffer from the reality that the CEO and his Senior Management Team really are a very long way from the front line and are therefore disconnected from it.

A prime example of this, in my humble opinion, is the recent ditching of the National Bank Brand by ANZ – by any standards, a dopey, costly and naive move that, apart from anything, reflects a complete lack of understanding of the marketing concept, the role, power and value of a brand and its brand franchise and the dollar value of the goodwill that is at the heart of that franchise.

If there had been a deep understanding of the marketing concept and the role and contribution of an established, valuable brand franchise, then this would surely not have happened. Or, perhaps that deep understanding did exist but did so in a place from where there was inadequate representation at the top table where such decisions are made. In big organisations, marketing is typically very poorly represented at that top table which is typically dominated by beanies and lawyers.

Marketing, as a concept, is at the heart of the business universe. A business is, before it is anything else, a marketing organism. It is, therefore, intriguing that so few larger businesses appear to understand and respond to this simple reality. Someone wants something. Someone else is willing and able to provide that something. The cost of doing so is a dollar. The price for doing so is two dollars. The difference is a dollar. That dollar is profit. And that is the core of the business concept. The rest is just about doing that again. And again. And again.

Small businesses get that. Big businesses seem to forget that.



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