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Our thoughts on the latest developments impacting your business.

Evolution in business – it’s not for the faint hearted

Making your mind up
Which way should I go?

In 2014 our marketing and business development practice marks its tenth anniversary. I must admit that in 2004 when our company commenced trading I didn’t dare to think about whether we would still be in business ten years later. But looking back over our development we’ve learnt a valuable lesson which we can bring to the benefit of our clients.

During our near decade of client liaisons I consider our marketing practice has been quite fortunate in that we have been asked to tackle a very broad range of problems, for a very wide range of clients. Perhaps this comes from a level of versatility borne out of our willingness to deliver a ‘can do attitude’, or it may come from the trust and expectations that our clients place upon us, knowing that we can and do deliver what is required or it may come from a basic need to adapt and survive? Don’t think we wouldn’t reject a request if it doesn’t fit with our core competences because that is definitely not the case. We do periodically find that if our skills don’t suit our clients’ needs or if we have limited capacity at the time of the approach, then we will invariably turn work away or recommend others better suited. However, we always consider from the outset that if we are being asked for a particular service, it’s being asked for a reason.

As marketers perhaps we have the advantage of knowing that we must adapt to stay in business but only by offering subtle changes from what was once our core offering – direct marketing and database management (DM).

In 2004 our skills lay solely in communications, but by 2006 we had already seen a change in the markets which we worked that required us to transform our offering, not by completely discarding what had helped us survive for two years without any bank support, but by carefully introducing new services that would allow us to migrate towards new and more prosperous areas, namely strategic and research services. But how would we do this? Well expanding our understanding through a range of additional training would certainly be a prerequisite but so too would a change in our branding, from direct marketing and database management to defining marketing (DM). This subtle change would allow us to fully integrate our extended service provision.

Making these changes would allow us to remain of value to our existing clients, whilst creating the opportunity to secure new ones that would find our broader skills learnt from our inception even more valuable. If we are being asked for help in a new way it’s our philosophy as marketers to learn to adapt and to exploit these chances, after all many businesses aren’t even asked by clients if they can adapt what they provide, instead choosing to freely search out a new supplier who can offer what they seek.

But by changing our offer, not only do we learn to adapt but in so doing we keep our relationships ‘fresh’ and valued, that’s how modern businesses evolve, by not waiting for a market to become saturated and stagnate, and thus setting in process the route for a slow painful death.

We’ve all heard people say, “if only I knew ten years ago what I know today, how much better off I’d be”. However, what this statement fails to recognise for those who use it is that we should always be continuing to learn and adapt. Isn’t that one of life’s great stories? If we knew everything when we were younger there would be no need for evolution, especially in business and the world would be a much duller place in which to operate.

As marketers I guess we are fashioned by what we learn around us. The marketing model developed by Michael Porter and referred to as Porters Five Forces teaches us that impacts upon our businesses can come from known and unknown competition and can take many forms, either improvements to our offer or from new methodologies that render what we once did as no longer viable. Challenges to our position can come from several directions, so when opportunity knocks make sure you are ready to evaluate it thoroughly. One thing is for certain, customers and clients value what’s hot and rather than what’s not. In the case of our manufacturing clients this translates more importantly into whose making what’s hot and what’s not!

If you were to walk away from every opportunity that permits you to adapt and survive and instead you stay ‘loyal’ to what you’ve always done, then you would never learn anything new, isn’t that why the phrase, ‘invention is the mother of all necessity’ was coined?

By the time you’re old you’ve learned everything. You just have to be brave enough to learn how to use it when it will make a difference.

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