Marketing Eras


  • Production Era:  Prior to 1925, most firms operating in highly developed economies focused narrowly on production. Manufacturers stressed production of quality products and then looked for people to purchase them.  The production era did not reach its peak until the early part of 20th century.
  • Sales Era: Manufacturers began to increase their emphasis on effective sales forces to find customers for their output. Firms attempted to match their output to the potential number of customers who would want it. Companies with a sales orientation assume that customers will resist purchasing products and services not deemed essential and that the task of personal selling and advertising is to convince them to buy. Although marketing departments began to emerge from shadows of production, finance, and engineering during the sales era, marketing dominated sales and other areas. Selling is thus a component of marketing.
  • Marketing: Personal incomes and consumer demand for products and services dropped rapidly thrusting marketing into a more important role. Organizational survival dictated that managers pay close attention to the markets for their goods and services. The trend ended with the outbreak of World War 11, when rationing and shortages of consumer goods became commonplace. The war years created only a pause in an emerging trend in business: a shift in the focus from products and sales to satisfying customer needs.
  • Relationship: It emerged during the 90s. Organizations carried the marketing era’s customer orientation one step further by focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships. This effort represented a major shift from the traditional concept of marketing as a simple exchange between buyer and seller. Relationship marketing by contrast, involves long-term, value-added relationships developed over time, strategic alliances and partnerships retailers play major roles in relationship marketing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Choosing the Network Partners


Although many business schools and consultancies have a public commitment to learning from, and sharing, best practice, this has not stopped some of them, and those who use their services, from jumping of  techniques such as reengineering as if they represent a revelation.

Mindless copying can result in the spread of panaceas, hype and misunderstanding, and gives added momentum to the latest craze. While it may be good news, for those who ride bandwagon, it is not so hot for those whose toes get in the way.

When external suppliers, such as consultants, do get hold of a best practice ‘gem,’ their motivation is often to spread it around their client base as soon as possible. Thus the corporation’s competitive edge can quickly become industry commonplace.

Some consultants receive as good as they give. Companies invite various experts to pitch for business and then ‘do it themselves’ using ther best of the various ideas they have picked up. The learning organization is a voracious and insatiable plunderer and consumer of intellectual capital. The wary choose their network partners with care.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Yoking Technology with Market Opportunities


Developing new products that cost less or perform better has always been crucial for any technically based company. In our increasingly turbulent business environment, developing the know-how to keep pace with or even ahead of technological developments and competitors’ moves is more important than ever for several reasons. First, exploding technology is spawning new products and processes at an accelerating rate that threatens almost every product and process in place. Second, competition continues to intensify from abroad and a plethora of new startups and many substitute technologies that encroach on established products and processes. Third, product innovations that result in superior performance or cost advantages are the best means of protecting or building market position without sacrificing profit margins. This is especially true in today’s world when many industrial markets are flat or slow growth and excess capacity is commonplace.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Managing Cash and Liquidity


In a turbulent environment, cash returns are important, if not more important, than reported profit returns. Cash returns lead to liquidity, and liquidity is a top priority consideration whenever risks and uncertainties surround a business situation, as they do in so many cases today. Cash and liquidity put any company in a better position to withstand a surprise blow, adapt to sudden changes, and capitalize on the narrower windows of opportunity that are commonplace in a turbulent environment.

This doesn’t mean that profits and profit growth are not important. The whole purpose of any business enterprise is to maximize profits and profit growth, but this objective will  not be achieved if business unit managers do not focus more time and attention on managing their cash and liquidity. Any entrepreneur that has lived through a start-up knows the importance of cash and liquidity. The entrepreneur knows from experience that a business can go bankrupt even while it is reporting profits. But it will never go bankrupt as long as its cash and liquidity positions are strong. Most corporate executives understand this point also, but many do not follow through to make sure it is sufficiently stressed or understood at the operating level. This is where the problem lies. Most business unit managers who operate under a corporate umbrella tend to overlook the importance of managing their own cash and liquidity and look instead to the corporation as a never ending source of funds.

The results are apparent in most corporations. Capital expenditure proposals tend to be a “wish list” often justified on project volume gains or cost savings that never occur. Working capital is allowed to build without adequate regard for carrying costs on the cash commitment. In short, overinvestment in plant and equipment, and working capital often serves as a buffer to cover sloppy business practices and control. These are practices that inevitably lead to an investment base that is too big for the business and to marginal profit returns.

Many operating managers in a corporation are not even aware of the costs incurred while excess capital is tied up in the business. This is not an exaggeration. Just ask any four or five business unit managers how much it costs to carry their inventory. Most of them will acknowledge an interest cost of, say 7—8 percent, but few will recognize that total carrying costs, which include storage, taxes, obsolescence, and shrink, actually run closer to 30 percent in today’s environment. We would also bet that none of them have such charges against their earnings, even though it is a very legitimate cost of doing business.

Not every company operates this way. Most corporate executives are not tough minded or rigorous enough in challenging cash commitments, and most business unit managers have more cash tied up in their business than required.

Ideally, every manager should think like a small business entrepreneur with his or her own money at risk. If this were the case, we would not see so many companies with bloated balance sheets and marginal returns. Left on their own, most business unit managers do not think this way, however. Life is not easier when you can draw almost at will on coroprate resources to meet the payroll, build inventories, and buy supplies, tooling and a lot of equipment. Under such conditions you don’t have to worry very much about how to make ends meet.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Play your Cards Right


Business cards may be commonplace, but they are vital too. Wherever you are, you will do better with a formal style of card, without advertising, and with clear information in English on one side and the local language on the other.

Business card etiquette is no mere ritual. In places such as Japan a business card is both mini-resume and a ticket to the game of business; a certain amount of gamesmanship is necessary to make the best use of the ticket. The first rule is never to be without cards, any more than a samurai would be without his sword. Never being without cards in Japan means taking fifty or more cards to every meeting. The second rule is to respect the cards, keeping them in a distinctive holder. Keeping your cards in your pocket or in a cheap plastic envelop is like making a business call with a shopping bag instead of a briefcase.

The third rule is to handle the card with formality. The card is presented, not merely handed. Japanese books of etiquette even point out a variety of ways to hold the card. Fourth, try to hand cards out in descending order of rank. The fifth rule is to receive another’s card gracefully, using both hands and never stuffing the card recklessly into your pocket.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Just about Cash Flow


Cash flow is different from profit. Profit is the difference between revenues and expenses. Cash flow is the difference between receipts and disbursements of cash. Profit may flow whether or not anybody has paid for anything. Cash flows only when somebody pays for something. Time after time, businesses with good sales and good profits go broke. It is surprisingly commonplace. The problem is the the cash doesn’t flow when the profit flows.

The explanations for the large number of new business failures, undercapitalization, inadequate management, and poor marketing, may be valid, but the overwhelming reason is that the managers did not understand cash flow. They behaved as if profit were cash, which is not. They acted as if all that is needed to win the business game is to make a profit, which is not true. Cash is different from profit. You need both to win the business game.

A business can survive and thrive only if it has both positive profit (not losses) and positive cash flow (more flowing into the bank than out of it). To win you must produce more than you consume, and you must do it in such a way that you can meet critical payments as they come due.

Profit may be the most common measure of whether a business is winning or losing, but cash flow is the most critical measure. Businesses can survive a surprisingly long time without profit. They die on the first payday there is no cash.

Your company’s bank is like a jar is a reservoir, so it is the gas tank. And what is in the reservoir is easy to measure. The amount in the reservoir is what was put in minus what was taken out. A convenient way to measure whether the supply is increasing or decreasing is to measure whether more was entering or leaving during the most recent period of time. Cash flow into the bank account is such a measure. How much is in the reservoir is of intetrest, of course, but it is changed by changing the cash flow.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Dance between Talent and Roles


There is nothing very special about talent. If talents are simply recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior, then talents are rather commonplace. Everyone has certain recurring patterns of behavior. No one can take credit for these talents. They are an accident of birth, “the clash of chromosomes.” However, each person can and should take credit for cultivating his unique set of talents.

The best way to help an employee cultivate his talents is to find him a role that plays to those talents. Employees who find such roles are special. These people are naturally able to do what someone is prepared to pay them to do. We rightly label these people as “talented.”

The talent alone isn’t special. It is the matching of the talent with the role that is very special. It is like the performing arts, the secret to great performances is all in the casting. It is therefore not enough to say, “This person has a talent for assertiveness; I must hire him to sell.” You have to know very specifically what kind of selling you are going to be asking him to do.

As manager your job is not to teach people talent. Your job is to help them earn the accolade “talented” by matching their talent to the role. To do this well, you have to pay close attention to the subtle but significant differences between roles.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact http://www.asifjmir.com