Is marketing at the core of your business?

I am often asked to assist organisations develop their business strategy. When I question their approach to market or their competitive advantage these things are sometimes seen as separate, as if their marketing strategy is something the marketing team focuses on and is an outcome of developing a business strategy.

Successful businesses, in my view, have marketing strategy front and centre, driving every decision they make. The ‘why, how and what’ they do. Simply put the overall value proposition. It is from this point that strategic decisions around how you structure and operate the business should be made.

Marketing strategy and business strategy are not two separate activities – they work together.

Viewed from that perspective marketing should not just be responsible for flogging products!

There was a time that marketing was seen as the department (if indeed you needed a marketing department at all) charged with promoting an organisations goods and services – more a communications team in reality.

Today marketing should be core to how an organisation orients itself to serving the needs of the market – in effect becoming market led.

So what is a market(ing) led organisation?

First, it is one that has a very clear view of who it serves – the core customer segments. And a deep understanding of their needs and how it will deliver solutions to meet those needs.

Second, it can clearly articulate its competitive advantage – why a customer will purchase its goods/services over the competition? Is it because you offer something unique? Perhaps it is a specialised approach to service? Or maybe the ability to excel at what I call the product surround? Whatever it is you need to know it, be able to deliver it and it must be of real value to your customers.

Third, a market led organisation is one that understands that its competitive advantage underpins the marketing strategy and overall operations. The products that will best deliver value to your customers are the starting point. Then you can make decisions around such things as how you position yourself in the market, your approach to service, your core processes, standards and systems and the values your team works by. Even how and where you fund your growth. These are all key strategic decisions driven by clarity around your marketing strategy. They will be the drivers of how successfully you deliver your value proposition.

Finally, market led businesses recognise that the marketing function of today is well placed to gather valuable insights into customer needs, desires and behaviour. Importantly, it becomes a strategic engine equipped to use this data to develop and refine a more meaningful strategy. A driver and source of innovation in a changing market.

Marketing should not only have a seat at the strategic table but is now a core driver of your strategy and eventual success.


James Atkins
BY James Atkins ON 8 January 2014
James Atkins is a director of Vantage, a boutique consultancy dedicated to helping people find strategic and marketing clarity in their business.