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Start Publishing: 12-01-2017
Has Your Market Orientation Strategy Lost Its Way?

Has Your Market Orientation Strategy Lost Its Way?
by Gerhard Vierthaler
"Market Orientation" is defined as a business approach or philosophy that focuses on identifying and meeting the stated or hidden needs or wants of customers. 
Theodore Levitt, an economist and professor at Harvard argued in the early 1970s that sales orientation had things backward. Instead of making the product, then trying to sell them to the customer, businesses should start with the customer, find out what they wanted, and then produce it - the customer becoming the driving force behind all strategic business decisions.

Studies prove that companies embracing market-oriented growth strategies are more successful than others, especially in our ultra competitive economy. Although taken for granted for many years, there is still great potential for improvement in many areas of today's organizations. Setting the right go-to-market strategy is mandatory, as is successful implementation with the urgent needs of customers in mind.

Most Strategies are Focused Too Internal.

My experience over the years working on the development and implementation of effective strategies for client organizations shows that firms are focused almost without exception on their internal know-how and competence. This is mainly because sound market research and (critical) market gap analysis are more difficult to attain and interpret - nor is the difference of the two fully understood: 
  • Market Research helps organizations understand how to position, sell and distribute products and services into an existing market where demand is already determined. It fails to identify new markets where demand is greater than supply.
  • Market Gap Analysis is a systematic research approach to discover and uncover sales opportunities where market demand is greater than supply.
Future-proofing your growth strategy means you have to do your homework, understand the market as a complex ecosystem of different, interacting factors. Analyzing customer needs, demand, trust and value creation is imperative, followed by competitive differentiators and various economic influences to effectively formulate an actionable go-to-market strategy.

Focus on External Market Orientation.

The music industry has been surprised by the emergence of MP3 standards, illegal distribution and has slept for years to develop counter strategies. Apple's iTunes debuted in 2003, responding to consumers hunger for a legitimate way to access music. 

The business model must always be in harmony with the market. Business model review and adaption are key to counter changes in the market, with customer focused needs and market gap analysis important success factors. 

In many markets it makes sense to also consider lifetime value of customers when developing customer life-cycle management strategies. Companies must position their value above their competition - position themselves as thought leaders - seek differentiation and focus on specialized areas.

Align Internal Processes. 

Marketing strategy has to be aligned with internal processes to accommodate innovation and swift changes in the marketing approach. Best in class companies manage to align and coordinate their market strategy across the entire organization for cross-functional integration - linking strategy with execution. As a result, they also increase the responsiveness to today's crazy market dynamics - another prerequisite for success.

It is equally important that all departments understand the firm's market direction and value as an integral part of their corporate culture. It is not enough to create a warm & fuzzy vision and mission statement, there has to be a congruent communication of the firm's value and market position - reflected in every business process of daily operations.

Market Focus Pays Off.
In today's super competitive global markets, marketing has to break the narrow confines of the tactical 4P framework (Product, Place, Price, Promotion). Companies need to be perceptive, agile and create value on a much broader spectrum now - become pain management specialists and build consensus throughout the nurturing and prospecting cycle. The difference between good and world-class companies is persistent market focus, value creation and swift execution. Most leaders are under the assumption they are already doing enough, thinking they have an adequate understanding of their customers and markets. 
Wake up, it's a different world out there!
  • Take a good hard look at your marketing strategy - are you trying to be everything to everybody? 
  • Are you mimicking your competition?
  • Are you focused on red-hot pain points of your prospects?
  • Do your marketing channels lack well defined and irresistible offers?
  • Does your lead nurturing process follow a planned buyer's journey?
  • Does your firm view acquiring a new customer as the final destination of their journey?
Many markets still offer huge potential waiting to be exploited by savvy organizations willing to find their sweet spot - distilling their value down to its syrupy goodness - hitting the pertinent pain points and selling to an identified market segment.

"How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress."  
~Niels Bohr

Gerhard Vierthaler
Business Success. Delivered.


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