The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Got The Right Orientation?

By Brian H Meredith

From the NZBusiness"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published March 2009

Now, perhaps more than ever before, it is crucial that a business be truly market oriented if it is to survive, let alone thrive, in the current and anticipated economic climate.

Let’s remind ourselves of a couple of core principles that reflect inescapable business truths:

Customers are the only place money comes from

Marketing is about identifying and/or creating the needs and wants of a chosen target market and fulfilling them, at a profit, time after time after time.

Are you utterly confident that your business understands and embraces these core principles?

Are you sure that your business has considered each of these principles carefully and has come to understand and embrace them in everything that it thinks, says and does?

We all know that times are tough and going to get tougher. But the upswing will come.

After all, a wise man once observed that Recession was like pregnancy – there was no evidence that either had ever lasted forever!

Economies have changed. Markets have changed. Customers have changed. Have you adapted to those changes?

How well placed is your business to not just weather the storm but be ready to benefit from the relative calm that will inevitably follow?

Are you confident that your Sales & Marketing Plans, Strategies and Activities are the right ones for these times? (Do you even have Plans?)

It is not uncommon, in times of recession, for businesses to take a simple “slash & burn” approach to securing the future of their business.

Big ticket items on the expenditure budget get cut or removed – staffing and marketing being two of the most common “big chunks” to be attacked.

Staff numbers are reduced.

Marketing Programmes are curtailed.

And customers always suffer. (And so, therefore, does the business)

But is this the right way?

Sometimes it may be.

Mostly it is not.

All too frequently, the Slash & Burn approach damages rather than protects a business.
For most businesses, the most important action to take in such difficult times is to ensure that the business, at its most fundamental level, is in as great a shape as it can possibly be.

And the reality is that, for many businesses, it often isn’t.

Although the downturn was swift and sharp, we will see a corresponding upswing. A seismologist can predict with 100% certainty that an earthquake will happen but they cannot precisely say when.

Likewise, guaranteeing an economic upswing is child's play. Determining the time is the work of debating experts.
A few experts believe the upswing will be dramatic and quick.


Pent-up demand.

Will your business survive to that point? Will your business be ready to navigate its way beyond it?

Ideally you should seriously commissioning external specialists to subject your business to a marketing health check, reporting in detail in terms of where you are, where you need to be and what you need to do to get there.

If this is done well (and choose your specialists carefully) the exercise should, at least, be self liquidating and, quite probably, a healthy return on that investment will be accomplished.

However, at the very least, you can address the following questions yourself:

What am I selling?

Is my product or service mix the right one and is it based on a thorough and accurate understanding of market needs & wants?

My customers want outcomes – am I offering inputs? (Black & Decker need to know that whilst they make drills, their customers need holes – the difference matters)

Or, as Charles Revson (Founder of Revlon) put it:

“In the factory we make cosmetics. In the drugstore we sell hope”

Who am I selling it to?

Do I know enough about who I am trying to sell to?

Are these the right people for my business to be targeting?

Are there alternative or additional markets that I could more profitably exploit?

Why the heck should they want to buy it anyway?

How well are my business and its products & services differentiated from competitive offerings?

Am I really offering and articulating a clear and compelling reason for my existing customers to continue buying from me and for new customers to consider buying from me?  

Or am I (like so many businesses) locked into the “10 cents off” approach to competitive advantage?

Whether you retain the services of a Marketing Consultant to put your business through a rigorous “Marketing Warrant of Fitness” or you simply begin by addressing the above questions, one thing is for sure; things have changed and will never be the same again.

Have you adapted to that change?

I am reminded of something Anthony Robbins (famed life strategist) said:

“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don't think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”

Now that seems a good place to start.


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