STRATEGIC MARKETING IN GERMAN COMPANIES
There is a tendency among European (more specifically German) managers and decision makers to think that Marketing is something only related to a well conducted promotion campaign in order to maximize sales and that Marketing is more related to mass consumption products rather than to capital goods or services in B2B environments; Marketing is maybe one of the Management areas less valued by European / German Capital-Goods-Companies, where decision making is left to Marketing departments and managers who organize the participation in trade shows and design technical flyers and some promotional activities. Marketing is seen as a secondary activity and an accessory second to other operational areas like Product design, or production.
IVAN ZUBIAGA – Trade shows
Although over the years these flaws have been pointed out, very little has been made in order to correct this situation more specifically within the German “MITTELSTAND”.
Maybe unwillingly and unknowingly the classic German Marketing strategy has been over the years one thing: the focus on the product and within it: QUALITY, or better said: excellence in producing high quality products. This function is very important when a product is being sold in competitive environments however, more and more companies from all over the world have learned to also producing quality products but to a lower cost. Globalization has brought to our door´s competition from everywhere and this companies are nimble and getting more knowledgeable. So, although quality must be part of the equation, Marketing needs to interact much earlier in the product-development or problem-solving process in order to gain better traction within the company and enable an easier and successful access to final customers.
American companies on the other hand, are more aggressive when it comes to facilitate transactions in the marketplace and use Marketing as a strategic tool that goes through all levels within a company. And this is what German companies should emulate.
IVAN ZUBIAGA – Quality from all over the world
Marketing is not an isolated island within the company, it should be the backbone of the company that interacts with all departments from a very early stage in order to produce the best results when for example, launching new successful products. Marketing is a “philosophy ” and the CEO of any company should make Marketing the soul of the company.
Marketing is like dealing with “applied strategy”, it gathers first the data and inputs from the market place, with information from potential customers, tendencies, threats and opportunities; then a company can define specific goals to attend new needs or defend existing positions within a specific market, here Marketing should be involved in defining the path within the company, coordinating and helping define the best way to go, maybe the answer to the information from the market place is just an adjustment to one or some of the P´s of the Marketing mix, or maybe the answer is to enhance some characteristics of an existing product based on new trends, tastes or needs of existing or potential customers. The coordination should go all over the next steps through the value chain of the company including discussions about target-costing within production in order to match or enhance existing pricing in the Marketplace or to defend from attacks from other competitors and, finally an action plan to support the new strategy should define if a specific promotion campaign is needed, and to what it should appeal in a customer and how the sales force should interact with customers when transmitting this new messages.
Marketing is key and it is not only about creating nice brochures and flyers or implementing some adds and commercials over the existing media. Marketing is much more than that and companies are well served if they start taking the first steps towards making Marketing a strategic activity within the organization.
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