- A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a lifetime’s experience.
- —Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
You are not alone. And neither are your customers. These basic facts are all too true for those of us in marketing who work tirelessly to get our message into the market. It’s too bad. If we were all alone—or at least the only one attempting to influence our customers’ decisions—our jobs would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, the trend is moving the other way. With increased competition coming from all corners of the globe, and customers learning just as much from each other as they are from any product or service vendor, the job of a marketing professional requires creativity and innovation to address potential customers through their most important sources of influence. And those sources change from country to country and customer to customer.
One of the major trends that marketers of the twenty-first century must be adept at is the new global world. The emerging global economy introduces a vast, complex, and competitive landscape. Firms must deal with new opportunities and pressures to survive and succeed. Although there is no one formula for success, companies must integrate into the fabric of the new global economy to understand and leverage the economic value it offers.
This requires a change in mindset that mandates marketers act locally while thinking globally. As one customer told me, “Developing countries grow gradually at first, then suddenly emerge as large markets. We must be prepared to respond quickly. This will require us to make fundamental changes to our business now, rather than implement event-driven reactions.” Analyzing this global (yet local) market is one of the most important jobs that a marketing team can do. The market changes quickly and unpredictably.
Changes in regulation, government, and competitors’ actions can have disastrous effects on business if they are not quickly identified, anticipated, and evaluated. A maniacal focus on what’s happening and who is gaining influence over your portfolio takes time, but it is well worth the effort if your business’s results improve, especially as you grow globally. A marketer’s job is to think about the future, or, as my chief marketing officer says, “Do a lot of forward thinking” to provide insight into the business. That insight must now expand beyond a round world to a new flat world, as articulated so notably by Thomas Friedman.
Listening and Analyzing in Both Old and New Ways
This chapter discusses how to keep abreast and anticipate the market in a global way with a local view. How to achieve the mergence of old and new approaches is of interest to Michael Sagalyn, a manager of market intelligence segment analysts in IBM’s software group: “An organization’s adoption of social computing techniques for marketing does not happen automatically. Leaders need to clearly communicate the vision of a new hybrid model for doing business; your staff needs to buy into the evolution; you’ll want to engage in skill building to achieve mastery of Web 2.0 technologies and techniques; and finally, the organizational structure might need to change in response to new processes and new functional disciplines.”
As you gain experience, you should consider how best to fold marketing innovation into the day-to-day operations of your firm. Figure 1.1 illustrates three ways the new world and the old world of marketing are required to work together to provide the insight needed for a glimpse into the future.
Figure 1.1 Analyze with three key focuses.
Although these are not the only ways to look at your market, outside in, they should provide the framework that enables you to see your world through a new lens. This chapter is followed by a set of case studies that bring to life the key points made. We look at Nortel’s segmentation and how the company has localized its segmentation by markets, and then learn the lessons of Lenovo, Dove, and IBM in leveraging insight, segmentation, and global-local lessons that drive growth.
Outside in is the new term for ensuring you are not focused on internal views but continuously looking outside your four walls. From the IBM CEO Study discussed in the Preface, CEOs identified that collaboration is the foundation of most innovative business models, and collaboration with groups outside of a company is the best source of innovative ideas. However, even CEOs see a collaboration gap as teams leveraging the outside view try to make better business decisions. There are many barriers, which, as expected, are tied to culture. Others are tied to deficiencies in existing processes and systems that inhibit them from extending outside the four walls of the firm. We discuss what you can do to overcome these challenges.
Every company needs to have forward-looking insight to compete in today’s 2.0 world. Whether it is exploring pools of profit, the competitive landscape, client needs, or the wisdom of crowds, companies need to see the world for themselves. Seeing the world today involves multiple perspectives and requires not just data but insight from multiple angles.