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.

Best Practices of Winning Companies


Winning companies realize the strategic value of building successful partnerships. While all companies experience periods of highs, lows, and transitions in their respective performance and in stock prices, truly successful companies build lasting partnerships that sustain and provide long term value to all partners, employees, and shareholders.

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.

Changing Buying and Selling Processes


Winning companies are all focused on speed to market, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction—whether buying or selling goods, services, and solutions. Today, many leading companies are changing their selling processes and tools, including the following actions:

  • Expanding self-service sales via Web-based sales catalogs of products and related services available to buyers.
  • Creating customized electronic interfaces between themselves and their strategic customers to facilitate rapid order receipt and order processing. Typically, sellers provide their most favored customers with preferred pricing or large discounts.
  • Offering multinational companies global pricing policies for products and services with economic-related adjustments, i.e., variations due to labor rates in specific countries or regions, inflation or deflation, value-added taxes, etc.
  • Developing standard statements of work, acceptance criteria, and standards intervals for consistent on-time delivery worldwide.
  • Understanding the buyer’s business needs and budget in order to develop customized solutions priced to fit the buyer’s desired business case.
  • Providing financing to buyers to help them purchase products when required.
  • Offering extended payment terms to customers, well beyond the usual net—15 days, or net—30 days to net—90 days or net—180 days.
  • Developing Web portals to facilitate rapid and direct communications between sellers and their strategic partners.
  • Providing countertrade, offsets, or counter purchases, in order to secure large purchases.

These actions are just a few of the many innovative process changes, tools, or unique business arrangements that sellers are using to build successful partnerships with their best buyers.

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.

Mergers and Acquisitions


Regardless of what form a business takes—be it a sole proprietorship, partnership, or a corporation—the chances are reasonably good that its form will evolve over time. Companies of all sizes and types achieve a variety of objectives by merging, dividing, and restructuring. The terms most often used to describe all of this activity are mergers, acquisitions, and leveraged buyouts. The difference between a merger and an acquisition is fairly technical, having to do with how the financial transaction is structured. Basically, in a merger, two or more companies combine to create a new company by pooling their interests. In an acquisition, one company buys another company (or parts of another company) and emerges as the controlling corporation. The flip side of an acquisition is a divestiture, in which one company sells a portion of its business to another company. In leveraged buyouts one or more individuals purchase the company (or a division of the company) with borrowed funds, using the assets of the company they’re buying to secure (or guarantee repayment of) the loan. The loans are then repaid out of the company’s earnings, through the sale of assets, or with stock. Leveraged buyouts do not always work.

Mergers and acquisitions represent relatively radical ways in which companies are combined. On a more modest scale, businesses often join forces in alliances to accomplish specific purpose. In a joint venture, two or more companies combine forces to work on a project. The joint venture may be dissolved fairly quickly if the project is limited in scope, or it may endure for many years.

A consortium is similar to a joint venture, but it involves the combined efforts of several companies. Cooperatives also serve as a vehicle for joint activities. In a cooperative, a group of people or small companies with common goals work collectively to obtain greater bargaining power and to benefit from economies of scale. Like large companies, these cooperatives can buy and sell things in quantity; but instead of distributing a share of the profits to stockholders, cooperatives divide all profits among their members.

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.

The Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

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.

Supplier Partnership


An organization spends a substantial portion of every sales on the purchase of raw materials, components, and services. Therefore, supplier quality can substantially affect the overall cost of a product or service. One of the keys to obtaining high-quality products and services is for the customer to work with suppliers in a partnering atmosphere to achieve the same quality level as attained within the organization.

Customers and suppliers have the same goal—to satisfy the end user. The better the supplier’s quality, the better the supplier’s long-term position, because the customer will have better quality. Because both the customer and the supplier have limited resources, they must work together as partners to maximize their return on investment.

There have been a number of forces that have changed supplier reltions. Prior to the 1980s, procurement divisions were typically based on price, thereby awarding contracts to the lowest bidder. As a result, quality and timely delivery were sacrificed. It is stopped because price has no basis without quality. In addition, single suppliers for each item help develop a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust. These actions will lead to improved products and services.

Another factor changing supplier relations was the introduction of the just-in-time (JIT) concept. It calls for raw materials and components to reach the production operation in small quantities when they are needed and not before. The benefit of JIT is that inventory-related costs are kept to a minimum. Procurement lots are small and delivery is frequent. As a result, the supplier will have many more process setups, thus becoming a JIT organization itself. The supplier must drastically reduce setup time or its costs will increase. Because there is little or no inventory, the quality of incoming materials must be very good or the production line will be shut down. To be successful, JIT requires exceptional quality and reduced setup times.

The practice of continuous process improvement has also caused many suppliers to develop partnerships with their customers.

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

Locking Customers in


Winners care about their clients’ businesses. They take specific steps to become more intimately involved. They share information and knowledge and pass on leads. They are always on the look out for ways of ‘adding value’ or helping customers to solve their problems.

 

They lock out competitors by integrating their own systems and processes with those of their customers. They may become involved in joint planning and the development of their client’s services. Relationships they forge grow into formal partnerships with joint and mutual objectives, shared rewards and savings, commitments to specific and measurable performance improvements, open book accounting and simple, quick, low-level dispute resolution procedures.

 

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

Public-private partnership


In this era of modernization in many aspects of public administration, most developing countries continue to follow century-old concepts and structures. They seriously need structural adjustment thereby launching legislative and administrative reforms, which stress a reconsideration of the role of the public administration in the conditions of democratization and market-economy. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on effectiveness of the public administration. The practice and legislation of such countries should affect patterns of the role of public sector and influence fundamental features of the system of governance. A common goal should be to introduce a more contractual, participative, discretionary style of relationship: between different levels and agencies in administrative apparatus; between the decision-making authorities and operating units; and between administrative agencies and producing units, public or private.

A major reform objective in public sector management should be to increase, within the framework of democratic accountability, cost effectiveness in the public provision of goods and services. Both citizens and public administration accept the need for improved quality in the public sector.

They need to hold high the aim of structuring an effective mechanism for achieving policy objectives, determined at central, provincial and local levels for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in providing public services.

The legality and the efficiency of providing such public services are of great concern. Local authorities are empowered to do something that is intended to assist the carrying out any role.

Outsourcing is a way of contracting out one or more functions to specialist companies. This allows the public entity to concentrate on its core activities. There are three primary reasons for the public administration to outsource. The first is to achieve cost-effective provision of services. The second is to provide a choice for the citizens of producing and supplying public services of different qualities and kinds. The third is simply because there is no alternative due to a lack of staff with the requisite skills; need of relaxing the administrative burden, which somebody other could deal with even better and concentrating the attention on the core administrative matters; short deadlines for implementation. This last reason for outsourcing is to meet the needs, which exceed the capability of the public administration staff, because of a shortage of either staff or skills, or which give added flexibility to the administrative organization.

Thus, the outsourcing can be seen as a process through which relationships are managed and adjusted according to arrangements specified and conditions planned by the administrative authority in the contract documentation. The focus here is not on the legal issues of the contract rather than on the quality of contracting as a mechanism for achieving policy objectives determined at all levels of government for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. From this perspective the outsourcing by public administration can be considered as a joint commitment to partnership between public and private sector operating as a co-operative device for providing public goods and services.

The trend towards greater satisfaction of public needs and consumer empowerment underlies the role of outsourcing by public administration. The outsourcing is encouraged to secure higher quality of public works and services, whereby contracting managers are located closer to the consumer and so are better able to respond to their needs in actual delivery. The role of consumers and end-clients with respect to outsourcing can thus be increased. The strategies of improving responsiveness through outsourcing on the one hand, and hierarchical distribution of the administrative functions on the other, can be combined in a successful model of public service delivery. The administrative authorities – at federal, provincial and local levels – might participate in the specification of services and in the determination of contractual standards and terms of agreement.

As part of administrative reform outsourcing by public administration should be a high priority. The corresponding legislation should be based on three main principles—transparency, non-discrimination involving open selection criteria and open standards, specifications and standards regulated by law; and open competition.

The framework agreements are significant for ensuring the execution of the administrative power intent of the outsourced functions. The federal, provincial or local governments can use outsourcing as a tool for providing public services when carrying out their functions. They use outsourcing to get public results, which should be achieved when the governments exercise their administrative powers.

The outsourcing in some way can replace the direct administrative action. Such outsourcing has the compulsory nature same as this of the executive action which it replaces. The administration can use administrative or seek lawmaking authority to bring about the result it desires, if it is nonetheless outsourcing. A realistic view is that the process of deciding to outsource as well as the very process of outsourcing is a valid exercise of administrative power. The offered and agreed terms of the contract are also exercising of the administrative power. Once the contract signed, however, the particular relationships issued by outsourcing are moved under the regulations of the private law.

The government functioning can be improved by redefining its role: Policy-making instead of operative decision-making. It should stimulate tools for establishment of working, efficient, rational and fair practice, design of efficient allocation of financial and administrative wherewithal; transparency and control. The government must also realize that developing a training strategy for skills and incentives is badly needed.

The overall proportion of outsourcing in the field of public administration is generally expected to growing. Demand will increase for a variety of reasons.

Successful outsourcing, however, presupposes the existence of an efficient market. In

Pakistan the market for some categories of public goods and services is deficient of professionalism, integrity, and fair play. Such situation is creating conditions for corruption.

From another side, outsourcing itself contributes to developing the market.

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 www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Legal Fiction or Economic Reality?


Knowing the cost of your operations, however, is not enough. To compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global market, a company has to know the costs of its entire economic chain and has to work with other members of the chain to manage costs and maximize yield. Companies are therefore beginning to shift from costing only what goes on inside their own organizations to costing the entire economic process, in which even the biggest company is just one link.

The legal entity, the company, is a reality for shareholders, for creditors, for employees, and for tax collectors. But economically, it is fiction. Thirty years ago the Coca Cola Company was a franchisor. Independent bottlers manufactured the product. Now the company owns most of its botling operations in the United States. But Coke drinkers–even those few who know that fact–could not care less. What matters in the marketplace is the economic reality, the costs of the entire process, regardless of who owns what.

Again and again in business history, an unknown company has come from nowhere and in a few short years overtaken the established leaders without apparently even breathing hard. The explanation always given is superior strategy, superior technology, superior marketing, or lean manufacturing. But in every single case, the newcomer also enjoys a tremendous cost advantage, usually about 30 percent. The reason is always the same: the new company knows and manages the costs of the entire economic chain rather than its costs alone.

A powerful force driving companies toward economic chain costing will be the shift from cost-led pricing to price-led costing.

It will be painful for most businesses to switch to economic chain costing. Doing so requires uniform or at least compatible accounting systems at companies along the entire chain. Yet each one does its accounting in its own way, and each is convinced that its system is the only possible one. Moreover, economic-chain costing requires information sharing across companies, yet even within the same company, people tend to resist information sharing. Despite those challenges, companies can find ways to practice economic chain, costing now.

Whatever the obstacles, economic chain costing is going to be done. Otherwise, even the most efficient company will suffer from an increasing cost disadvantage.

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