Marketing myopia too close for comfort?

With hindsight, many would accuse the human race of being short-sighted in its destruction and invasion of the natural world. Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on economies, travel, people and business. At a macroeconomic level, this is affecting most countries to some extent. Some performed well, some not so well. Some businesses have thrived while others collapsed. Read on to discover why marketing myopia is so important.

Myopic or disorganised?

When Levitt unveiled his radical theory in the 1960s, his hypothesis was that growth comes to a halt because of a failure of management. At the microeconomic level, he suggested that poor financial results, low growth or contraction were due to poor management rather than market saturation.

Controversial? Yes. True? Very possibly. He proposed that there are no growth industries, only businesses capitalising on growth opportunities. Entrepreneurs, new ventures or new products and services to seize upon growth opportunities. How many times do we see businesses and investors pile into products and markets where there seems to be a ‘buzz’ and opportunity?

Failure of management

Nobody is suggesting that the crisis is due to bad management. Far from it. However, the degree to which people have responded varies dramatically. Think back to stories of distilleries repurposed to make hand sanitiser at the start of the crisis. Look back at how insignificant Zoom was at the beginning of 2020. Consider how finance houses have leased much equipment to the NHS to help them scale up fast. None of these responses happened by chance.

In the same way that sea travel and the railways gave way to cheap flights, bricks and mortar shops and monolithic headquarters now appear largesse. A simple shock to traditional shopping patterns and social distancing pushed many stores into administration and offices up for sale. Those who took a bold move to arrest decline had already switched away from physical stores to online. Businesses who were open to technology, flexible and remote working found themselves prepared.

Growth opportunities

Without a crystal ball, many opportunities could appear to be a gamble or a ‘hunch’ on the part of an entrepreneur, organisation or investor. Many companies appear to have thrived during the recession but it is not limited to those that were in specific industries before Covid-19. Wholesalers moved into PPE, software houses moved into virtual and security solutions, services transformed into products.

A few may have gotten lucky from the pandemic. Manufacturer of PPE? Great winner. Global distributer of home office equipment? Good year. Services to the NHS and Government? Exceptional year. These same businesses need to plan now for the ride down the other side of the roller coaster as the good times will only last for so long. Those that reorganised to capitalise on growth opportunities have displayed a dynamism that means they already know they will need to adapt in the aftermath.

Unfortunately, many businesses did not or could not redirect resources to capitalise on these growth opportunities. Was it a failure of management? Was it because the organisation is too complex? Is it because financial performance is steady and the executive team are complacent?

Seeing marketing myopia coming

The good news is that for many businesses, the situation is hopeful. This short-sighted approach often stems from a failure to understand how your business serves its customers. Alternatively, management believe they are in a growth industry and become complacent.

It is worth noting that growth opportunities do not always come close to home. Many management teams become comfortable with where the organisation is and are afraid to change course. It is easy to see why with the weight of investor pressure and share price sensitivity to stock market volatility. Expanding into new service lines, horizontal and vertical integration, setting up subsidiaries or networks in Europe and joint ventures with global partners are fraught with risk but also reward.

It's not too late to cure your myopia

In conclusion, Levitt places a lot of the blame at the door of management. Many management teams have had to pay more attention to strategy, plans, cash flow and continuity than ever. When our survival is threatened, people are capable of extraordinary feats and courage. For those b2b businesses who stayed the course or accept there is nothing they can do to benefit, start brainstorming, strategising and scenario modelling in case your fortunes wane.

See how businesses can address marketing myopia here

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