The Marketing concept, or marketing orientation, focuses on “the idea that the social and economic justification for an organization’s existence is the satisfaction of customer wants and needs while meeting organizational objectives.”* Furthermore, the market orientation is “a philosophy that assumes sales does not depend on an aggressive sales force, but rather on a customer’s decision to purchase product. It is synonymous with the marketing concept.”
The preceding two definitions zero in on one critical point: the most effective marketing is customer-driven marketing. The two preceding orientations we examined were product and sales driven. However, the marketing orientation has one goal: focus on the customer! Or, as I frequently remind my clients, marketing is the process that delivers the product or service to the customer. All activities start and finish with the customer. If the customer’s wants, needs and demands do not shape your marketing, then you are not part of the marketing process. No customer equals no marketing. There is just no way around this principle. None.
Allow me to give you another retail example from my past corporate marketing life. A marketing colleague and I had developed a creative, value-oriented product for the flash memory industry. It was a USB drive that included a free game which came preloaded on the thumb drive. All the end customers we showed the product to loved the idea. We knew we had a winner. However, the buyer at this nationwide retailer just did not have the vision see this product from the eyes of the customer. He canned the product and it never hit their retail shelves. He reasoning centered around internal, corporate considerations and not a focus on what customers wanted. All was not lost. Other large retailers picked up the product and it did well in other channels. It was a clear example of how internal, myopic considerations can short-circuit what customers want.
As the marketing textbook I use at a local university class so aptly states:
“Achieving a market orientation involves obtaining information about customers, competitors, and marketing; examining the information from a total business perspective; determining how to deliver superior customer value; and implementing actions to provide value to customers.” *
So remember, demand for your product or service comes from the customer and not you. The customer is the magnet. The customer is the compass. The customer is the rudder. The customer is boss. Don’t make product selection too hard on yourself. The customer will do much of the work for you. And–if you listen–the customer will also pay you for your attention!
By Stuart Atkins