Shifting Plates Change Marketing Landscape
By Ronald L. Burgess – Originally published September 1997
“If there’s a way to do it better. . . find it” – Thomas A. Edison
Marketing will change more in the next ten years than it has in the last century. Geographic plates either shift gradually through erosion and minute movements, or rapidly as the result of quake or volcanic force. The rapid movement and subsequent explosion caused by major changes in technology and systems are causing a groundswell of activity, revolutionizing the marketing landscape into a terrain of incredible frontier.
Advances in computers, the Internet, and printing technology are propelling marketing processes into previously unchartered areas. Integrated Desktop Marketing Systems™ now provide easily implemented ways to get the job done – even better than before! Once limited to use by mega corporations, complete systems are now available to all sized businesses, leveling the ground between competitors.
Juxtaposed to these new technical possibilities is a relationally oriented philosophy that is permeating work and marketplace environments.
Philosophically diametrically opposed to one another, techno-efficient and psycho-sensitive approaches are actually creating a perfect polar tension in a rapidly changing industry. What has happened is that the influence of two diverse generations are creating a tension that’s effect is revolutionizing the way we do business.
Instead of being reactionary responses to the other, the people-intensive approach being implemented throughout the corporate world in team building efforts, (although it may be more a business gesture toward workers than it is a production effort), is a healthy response to the technological advances birthed from the worker bee mentality of the WW II generation.
While marketing books and periodicals have been pushing One-on-One and Relationship Marketing for five or six years, the fact remains that people alone cannot deliver. The cost is just too great. Technology takes up the slack where humans are too expensive. Today’s new technology gives businesses tools enabling them to deliver high levels of personalized service and support to their customers and prospects. Previously, this degree of service has been difficult to provide. . . especially for small to moderate sized organizations.
As an open market economy (capitalism), business is much the same as nature. In nature, survival depends on the successful occupation of an ecological niche. To successfully operate, business must likewise find a market niche, selling more than it spends.
In the past, large companies occupied very large niches, such as television, oil, steel, or utilities. Smaller companies found ways to pick up the scraps by finding small markets that the big ones never saw.
It’s a little like an elephant missing the ants on the ground. The elephant would starve if it took the time to find and eat only ants. On the other hand, small anteaters have adapted to efficiently find and eat enough ants to survive, flourishing at the elephant’s feet.
Technology gives the elephant the ability to acquire the anteaters’ tools without losing his trunk in the process. In other words, advances have enabled large companies to find and service very small markets while maintaining market dominance in large niches. This is not good news for small business.
On the other hand, brand new technology is easier for small companies to adapt to. It is more manageable and can help one company leap over another. It happens all the time. Only twenty years ago, Wal-Mart was a small discount chain with a top information system staff. The rest is history. The flip side of the coin is Sears Roebuck Co. Sears always had the best of the largest mainframes, but simply could not overcome the inertia of its size and old technology. You know the rest of the story. The point is that, just like in nature, rapid adaptation allows growth and prosperity to the companies that do it best. Robert Holmes À Court, of Bell Group International once said, “Business is Darwinism: only the fittest survive.”
Marketing processes, under academic discussion for the last twenty years, can now be monitored in a nearly real-time mode. New database research and marketing techniques make it possible to observe changing customer habits while they are changing — not years after the change.
The early bird gets the worm!
Products can be developed faster as the change in trends is monitored real-time. This rapid acceleration in response time is creating vast changes more rapidly than ever before. The fundamental process of the free market, combined with the ability to gather and interpret data, communicate instantly, and watch for responses, will impact the marketplace, thrusting the realm of record breaking potential forward like never before.
In order to succeed in this highly competitive market, many companies will have to learn the difference between product driven and market driven management strategies. Product driven companies are seeking customers to purchase a product they have developed. Marketing driven companies design products for specific customer profiles. The “processes” of listening to and delivering products to the customer,
requires some paradigm shifts for the product driven company. In order to succeed, many companies will have to learn the difference between product driven and market driven management strategies.
In high-tech businesses, the development of the each new product begins before the previous product is at market. Intel has two jumping frog development teams. The one that just released one chip, will now work on a design two generations away. Team two has already been working on the one to be released next for six months to a year.
Integrated Desktop Marketing Systems brings the software, hardware, techniques, and changing processes together to help small and medium sized businesses jump over their competition. However, all the technology available will not help the company that does not wish to learn new techniques and development processes required for administration. Systematic changes will allow companies to adapt to new technology and provide timely understanding of the ever changing niche markets they try to survive in. Integrated Desktop Marketing is a term coined in this column over two years ago. Burgess Management specializes in creating integrated marketing systems with industry specific programs.
Ronald L. Burgess is a Marketing Management Consultant in Redlands.