Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Innovation and Marketing, the Two Driving Business Functions

I have met a lot of entrepreneurs recently who have told me how superior their product or technology is compared to their competitors. But their competitors have far more customers and market penetration.
As a result, in the last several months I have found myself sharing some or all of the following quote from the great management thought-leader, Peter Drucker:

"Because the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer, the business enterprise has two--and only two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of business."

This may be a painful realization for some, but the best product or service doesn't always win. In business, usually the best marketer wins. So, here are some general recommendations for any entrepreneur who thinks their infatuation with their product is blinding them from being the best marketer among their competitors.

- Complete a market analysis relative to your competitors and your product, preferably with clear recommendations on the best segments of the market and the most valuable positioning in that/those markets

- Get someone on your team now who has marketed and sold to the same customers. This addition to your team should also get the hands-on, roll-up-your-shirt-sleeve mentality your entrepreneurial company was founded upon.

- Care more about how best to solve your customers' needs than your technology or product. Many entrepreneurs really struggle with this one, thinking that they know what's best for the customer. The challenge is always getting the customer to believe that. So get their feedback throughout your product life-cycle and be willing to shed features and design elements that you're holding onto because of your love affair with the product, not because of what is best for the customer.

- Have fun. Marketing is one of the most exciting parts of business. When done correctly, it is quantitatively based and often more measurable than many other things you do in your company.

This is just a 'starter' list. Does anyone want to add any more to the list?

These thoughts don't apply to products only. The same concepts can help in marketing services and can help in marketing you if you are looking for a new job or need to position yourself for a promotion.