Fundamental principles - Marketing Strategy

Having stressed the importance of implementation we turn to the issue of what factors are required for success. These are summarized in Figure . Any successful strategy must be supported by each of these components. These cover the human aspects of business and a more objective process approach to management. Note that these factors can have either a positive or negative effect on a given project. Each is considered in turn.

Key elements in implementation.

Key elements in implementation.

Leadership

The role of the leader is to get the best out of people and deal with the unexpected. They should be viewed as facilitators. This is achieved by creating an environment where actions can take place. Leaders require effective people skills such as negotiation and delegation. Often leaders acquire their leadership position by means of technical expertise. This can be dangerous, since their primary function is to facilitate rather than undertake the work themselves. The leader needs transferable management skills in addition to technical and marketing competence. Adair (1984) summarizes leadership as:

  1. Task needs :aiming to complete the project.
  2. Group needs :developing team spirit and morale.
  3. Individual needs :harmonizing the above with the needs of the individual.

Depending on circumstances, the leader will emphasize task,group or individual needs (see Figure).

Leadership.

Leadership.

Leaders need to adopt an appropriate style of management. If a crisis looms then a more direct autocratic style may be called for. However, under different circumstances a participative style may be best suited. Hence leaders can move from task, individual or group orientation depending on the circumstances.

Culture

Much management theory relates to corporate culture. Culture can be defined as a combination of shared values and beliefs. These are commonly reinforced with corporate symbols and symbolic behaviour.For example, a company may wish to pursue a culture of openness and accessibility. The symbol of this may be to encourage all staff to dress informally on a Friday, to promote a more relaxed atmosphere.

Great care must be taken when implementing strategy. If the strategy goes against the dominant culture it is likely to fail unless a major effort is made to develop and maintain support. This could be achieved via staff training, appraisal and restructuring. The strategist needs to be sensitive to the shared values that exist within the organization.
Normally it is best to work with, as opposed to against, such values.

Structure

The structure of any organization, or project, has two primary functions. Firstly, it defines lines of authority denoting levels of responsibility. Current management thinking promotes a move towards flatter structures with more devolved authority. Secondly, structure is a basis for communication. Structures can filter out information, making senior management remote from the customer. In the area of implementation consideration should be given to how communication occurs.In relation to developing marketing strategy, it can be advisable to have multifunctional teams. A group with a diverse range of backgrounds can promote ownership of projects, identify operational problems in advance and enhance overall quality.

Resources

Any project needs to be properly resource. Leaders have the role of obtaining and making optimum use of resources. The re sourcing of project sis often more to do with internal politics than actual need. In many organizations there needs to be a more objective process of resource allocation. Resources will ultimately relate to finance and staff. Resourcing is normally budget driven. However, there is now a recognition of the importance of being time focused. For example, a three-month time delay is likely to be more serious than a minor budgetary overspend. The concept of‘time-to-market’ is dealt with in a later section. Remember, implementation never takes place in a vacuum – things change and it is important to be flexible and build in an acceptable degree of contingency (additional resource to be called on) within any implementation strategy.

Control

Control is simply a way of making sure what is supposed to happen actually happens. The term itself – control – often appears to have negative connotations and is seen as limiting and coercive in nature.This should not be the case. Astute management can develop effective control systems.The basic approach is a simple feedback loop. You measure progress, compare against some pre-set standard and if required take action.

Skills

The appropriate skills mix is required in order to achieve any aim or goal. Within the context of implementing marketing strategy, ‘softer’ human resource management (HRM) skills can be lacking. It should be remembered that project management is a skill in its own right. To summarize, successful implementation requires skills such as:

  • Technical/marketing skills, e.g. design, market research, industry analysis.
  • HRM skills, e.g. delegation, performance appraisal, training.
  • Project management skills, e.g. budgeting, re sourcing, forecasting.

Strategy

To state the obvious, there must be a strategy to implement. However,the fact that a strategy exists may not be apparent overtone, the strategy may not be seen as appropriate by all staff.The project leader must ensure people are aware of the strategy, the reason for it and their role in making it work. Potential strategy should be screened to ensure that it misappropriate to current circumstances. For example, what is the basis of competitive advantage? What organizational changes need to take place?

The development of strategy is an ongoing activity. During an dafter the implementation phase, management should review and adapt policy as required. While the overall objectives remain intact, there may be changes in how we set about achieving such targets.

Reviewing strategy.

Reviewing strategy.

Systems

Several systems are important in the implementation process landfall into two general groups: reporting and forecasting. It is necessary to have systems which aid management decision making. Note that these are aids to decision making and not replacements for decision making.Such systems will cover areas such as finance and budgeting,project evaluation/refinement and market research. The key factor is often the interpretation of information rather than the system itself.

The Seven S’s

The ‘Seven-S’ model developed by McKinsey & Co. provides a useful summation of these ideas. The model can be adapted as seen in Figure and split into:

 The Seven S’s

The Seven S’s

  1. human resource management (HRM) – dealing with the people-based aspects of implementation, and
  2. process – the policy, procedures, reporting and systems aspects of implementation.

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