The aim of the first section was to introduce you to the concept of the market-led approach to marketing (also referred to as pan-company marketing or marketing orientation) and to differentiate it from ‘marketing department marketing’. I used examples and case studies to make you think about the applicability of this concept to commercial (for-profit) and non-profit organisations, and gave you activities to help you apply it in your own organisation.
Five of the learning outcomes were addressed in Section 1.
Describe the difference between marketing as a function and the concept of being market led – A high-performance organisation understands that being market led is a cross-functional philosophy that has changed its organisational culture to include a value-driven structure and systems designed to co-ordinate all activities around the needs of the customer. There should be three issues on every manager's agenda – customers, competitors and inter-functional co-ordination.
Markets and customers have become the responsibility of every manager in the company – not just the marketing specialists.
A need to focus on meeting the needs of customers has been clearly identified. Managers need to move away from traditional marketing roles towards an organisation-wide process of ‘going to market’. This involves focusing on one of three value disciplines (while still paying attention to the other two value disciplines) to provide added value to their customers. These value disciplines are operational excellence, product leadership and customer intimacy.
Evaluate the relevance of marketing concepts to your own organisation and others, whether commercial or non-profit – The issues raised in the marketing of services in the commercial sector are similar in many respects to those in the non-profit sector. The growing competitive environment in which non-profit organisations have to exist is requiring them to take a more market-focused approach to their service delivery. The problems they face in changing to a customer-focused approach are similar to those in the commercial services sector. Because of the intangible nature of many services, customers tend to rely on extrinsic clues to make judgements about the quality of such services. There are many services (high-credence) for which customers are unqualified to judge the quality or are unable to ascertain the long-term benefits they provide. In these cases, organisations hold a fiduciary responsibility to look after their customers’ best interests.
Identify your own customers and consumers – I gave you the opportunity to think about your customers and consumers at the beginning of this section because the most fundamental process in any market-led approach is that of identifying customers and finding out what they need. It's not just a problem for non-profit organisations. If you are working in a small department of a large organisation, you may be able to identify your internal customers but may never come in contact with your external customers and have no idea who they are.
Identify the tangible and intangible elements of your own products and services – You were given an activity to help you identify the nature of the product(s)/service(s) you offer. That activity also made you think about the role of internal as well as external customers.
Evaluate whether an organisation is market led – I chose one book out of the many marketing texts to illustrate the way that organisations have to focus on adding value to their product or service offering. Treacy and Wiserma suggest that market-led organisations need to focus on three areas: customer orientation, competitor orientation and inter-functional co-ordination to give the best value to their customers. Each organisation also has to decide on a focus for their organisation – this can be operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy. The last activity in this section asked you to look at a case study of Marks & Spencer and to apply the Treacy and Wiserma concepts. Three of the learning outcomes related to Section 2.
Evaluate the role of relationships in adding value to market-led organisations – Managing relationships is seen as crucial to a successful market-led approach. I used Piercy's model of key relationships and Christopher et al.'s six markets model to identify the key roles of customers, employees, suppliers, referrers, recruiters and influencers as important stakeholders for any organisation.
Identify the key relationships and markets in a case study – I used the case study of Wace Burgess to help you identify markets and to understand their roles in the success of a company.
Identify key market-led relationships within your own organisation – In this session I have introduced you to case studies and readings that should have helped you understand how market orientation affects an organisation's performance. I have also asked you to look at your own organisation and make judgements regarding its performance.