3.3 Implications of market orientation
An organisation that develops and performs its production and marketing activities with the aim of satisfying the needs of its customers is market oriented. However, using market-led ideas in the non-profit sector requires a fundamental shift in organisational philosophy. Identifying those people who add value to the service means renaming some users ‘customers’. It also means that you have to establish what they want before you begin the planning processes and you have to concede that they may have some influence over the goods and services you provide.
Kotler (Drucker, 1992) has no doubt that market-led cultures should be introduced into non-profit organisations:
Most people think that marketing is a tool, but for governments and not-for-profits it is a way of thinking. It goes beyond selling and advertising, it is a mindset that puts the customer first and ensures that the organization's philosophy is ‘without consumers there is no organization’.
This is a sensitive issue for some non-profit organisations. The problem is that many have missions that encourage them to take a long-term view about what is best for their consumers.
Professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants have to deal with this on a regular basis. Sometimes what their customers want in the short term is in direct conflict with their needs in the long term. Such service providers therefore need:
a thorough understanding of what their customers consider as added value
open communication channels with their customers
to foster an environment where customers trust their services. Think of the services provided by lawyers and accountants, for example. Their customers have to trust that they have their best interests at heart, even when the end result is not what the customer wanted.