Tag Archives: Marketing Theory

7 Ps of Services Marketing – Framework Limitations

The 7 Ps of services marketing is indeed a popular framework used by marketing professionals to design the critical dimensions of the strategic blueprint while marketing a service. The services marketing mix is dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. In fact, the 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy for services in domains like banking, information technology enabled services or hospitality and tourism, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

However, one needs to be aware of the limitations of this framework while applying it in a business context. So in this article, we will discuss some of the major limitations of this services marketing framework.

One of the major drawbacks of the 7 P framework is that it does not address issues related to productivity in terms of both quantity and quality of service delivery. In integral services management, improving productivity during service is a requisite in overall cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers. These two deliverables are essentially opposite to each other in terms of goals. A firm would want to pursue a strategy involving cost minimization but still quality maximization. Hence a strategy that manages trade-off between such conflicting goals is needed to be optimized.

Similarly, another major important issue is managing the core competencies embedded within a firm. Services are essentially intangible in nature, by its very definition. Processes like service delivery address only a small part of the larger cake. Drawing from the resource based view, the organizational competencies are not matched through this framework, which is one of the building pillars of developing strategic frameworks which are external in nature. The viewing of internal resources in silos is somewhat a barrier for this framework, if used to develop an actionable strategy.

Another limitation of this framework is that it does not provide a mapping between the pricing strategies that needs to be followed, vis-a-vis the productivized version of the service. That mapping is often one of the most important drivers that can create or break the adoption of a service. A mapping of pricing to the critical dimensions (features) of the productivized service draws its theories from the pricing of services, which are often done in silos, since dimensions cannot be identified which are in unision but not over-lapping to the main delivery. Over-lapping dimensions create a perception of fluctuating utility among the consumers, and since these are intangible, the overall valuation of the importance and value of a service, gets impacted in a major way.

Understanding the limitations of any theoretical framework before applying it to practical scenarios is crucial for the success of the strategic plan. Please let us know, what you feel about this article. By the way, did you read about the 8 Ps of marketing, the new age marketing mix?

Marketing Theory – CCDVTP

CCDVTP stands for “create, communicate, deliver the value to the target market at a profit”, a term that has been popularised by Philip Kotler. It is being considered as an emerging lingo amongst marketing professionals ever since it was coined. This has caught the attention since it connects three ideals that are often existing in silos in marketing organizations. This has been identified as the value chain in marketing, among the other important marketing theories and today, surprisingly has become a buzzword in many interviews for marketing and sales jobs.

Creating value is synchronized with product management, whether the product or service is tangible or intangible. The product is what is the core of value creation, for your customers and also for your firm. Product life cycle management is thus one of the crucial activities in product management. Today, services and products need to be managed so as to deliver quality value consistently. There are many frameworks which enable the product management team create consistencies across delivery of the same. However, creating the best product or service offering will result in no value for the producer, unless the same can be communicated. This is where branding exercises are conducted.

Communicating the value of a product or service is branding and brand management. A highly valued product or service which a producer company may perceive, must also be conceived by the user as having similar value or more. Otherwise the whole exercise of creation of the offering through proper product management strategies, falls flat. Branding enables a firm to rely on the pull strategy rather than on the push strategy, and it has been observed that firms generate higher profitability from the pull strategy than from the push strategy.

Delivering value is synchronous with customer management. Value is generated at the point of consumption of any offering, be it a product or a service. Customer value management is the process by which this value may be tapped successfully to create value for the firm. This is the process by which the results of all the effort taken in creation of value is actually realized by the firm and directly affects the top-line of the firm’s financials. It has been seen that through proper customer management, customer satisfaction increases substantially which in turn reduces churn rate and increases revenue from increasing customer satisfaction.

So what do you think of this new mantra in marketing? We would love to know your thoughts.

Supplier selection criteria and models

Purchasing is among the most important activities in supply chain management, since it is the primary point of contact with most supply-chain partners. A major area in purchasing management is that of Supplier Selection Problem (sometimes called the Vendor Selection Problem). Research in this domain started in the early 1960s and over 175 studies have attempted to address this highly critical issue of procurement management. “Vendor selection criteria and methods” have reportedly been the highest area of interest in operations management research.

A wide variety of selection criteria have been used in different studies for the evaluation of suppliers which have varied due to the differences in requirements in different industries and also often had been purely firm specific. Typically the variety of supplier selection criteria that has been used has exceeded 50 criteria in over 65 research papers working on finding new criteria for evaluation of suppliers. These criteria have been enlisted in the matrix shown below.

Some of the most popular criteria in supplier selection which has been used in over 10 research papers and have also been widely cited are relative price, compliance with the delivery schedule, quality of the delivered goods to specifications, production capabilities of the supplier, geographic distance (of the warehouse), technical capability of the supplier, management capability of the supplier  and financial position of the supplier. All these supplier evaluation criteria have found massive application in the studies in this domain and are marked by subtle differences in terms of relative importance, as perceived by senior procurement practitioners.

Similarly another area of keen interest is the models which has been used to provide decision support to the supplier selection problem. Over 35 different mathematical models have been used for providing decision support to this extremely critical issue of procurement management. A study by Ho, Xu and Dey (2010) reveals that the Analytic Hierarchy Process, Mathematical Programming and Data Envelopment Analysis are the top 3 modeling paradigms used to provide decision support in supplier selection problems. Many other novel techniques like multi-attribute-deterministic models; mixed mathematical programming, outranking techniques; weighted sum of products; interpretive structural modeling; fuzzy set theory, neural networks; intelligent agent based techniques; TOPSIS, fuzzy multi-attribute frameworks; rule based reasoning models and multi-objective programming models have also been used. Typically the evolution of supplier selection models have been as described pictorially below, due to the evolution of the nature of selection criteria, from quantitative to a mix of quantitative and qualitative criteria.

As the trend highlights, there is a paradigm shift in the nature of the mathematical models used for supplier selection with a change in the requirements in the nature of business, mostly in the manufacturing industries and the maturity of the discipline. No wonder the area has attracted so much of attention to the consulting practitioners and theory developers in academia alike.

Do mail me if you have any queries regarding this post.

The content in this article is an original piece of research made to further the purpose of education only. You may NOT copy, distribute and transmit the work for any purpose without the express written permission of the author. Neither you may alter, transform, or build upon this work without express written permission from the author (arpan.kumar.kar@gmail.com).

PEST Analysis

PEST analysis stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis“. It is a framework for Strategic analysis of markets to evaluate macro-environmental factors used in the environmental scanning component. Some analysts add the Legal factors to the analysis.

Thus when the PEST analysis is expanded to incorporate legal and environmental factors; this is called a PESTLE analysis or a PESTEL analysis.

  • Political factors pertain to how the government intervenes in the economic functioning of the country (market) and more specifically how it affects the firm strategic decision making. Political factors such as tariffs, tax policy, labor laws, trade restrictions,environmental law, and political stability. Political stability is a major factor which affect the firm’s strategic decision making and overall legal framework.
  • Economic factors consists of interest rates, government bond rates, risk free rate of interest, economic growth, inflation rate (adjusted) and exchange rates.  These factors have major impacts on how a firm can operate in a market. Inflation rate and potential GDP affect the demand and prices of goods.
  • Social factors include the cultural dimensions of the population in which the firm will operate and include gender consciousness, gender based product/service bias, population growth rate, age spread, health consciousness, career attitudes and risk appetite of the target segment.
  • Technological factors consists of factors such as research and development focus in general industries, intellectual property protection laws, technology adoption rates, change assimilation culture, automation and the rate of technological change. They affect entry barriers, technology enabled products and service assimilation,  product prices, quality, and innovation.
  • Environmental factors consists of factors like ecological and environmental aspects such as forestry  and  climatic conditions which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance.
  • Legal factors focus on discrimination laws, intellectual property protection laws, labor laws, consumer laws, antitrust laws, employment laws, health laws, safety laws and social security laws which can affect how a firm operates, its bottom-line (cost structure) and the demand and distribution for its products and services.

The PEST framework has been recognized as an extremely popular framework for market analysis. It is a part of the external analysis conducted while demonstrating an in-depth strategic analysis during new market entry or doing market research for a new product launch or even sometimes during a product extension, and gives an overview of the different macroenvironmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. It is a useful theoretical tool for estimating market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations.

It is an important complementary extension of the Marketing Mix strategies and often it is used as an alternative analytical tool for Porter’s 5 forces model (although not appropriate for the same).

 

Business Negotiation – Tips to improve Skills

The Art of Negotiation

A ‘negotiation’ is a conversation between two or more parties where the outcome has yet to be decided. Many people enter ‘negotiations’ with a clear and defined outcome in mind and the intention to accept nothing less.  Making demands and negotiating are not interchangeable or even similar and you should be clear which activity you intend undertaking.

Most negotiations are stunted or hindered as both parties seek to gain advantage over the other.  These ‘aggressive’ exchanges often result in the focus becoming personal and subjective rather than impersonal and objective. Properly conducted, a ‘negotiation’ can be a very positive experience for all parties involved and not just during but long after the discussions are completed.

What is Negotiation

Every negotiation will result in one of 4 outcomes.

The objective of all parties conducting the negotiation would be to arrive at a Win-Win situation for both.

So How to play a Win-Win game?

Be Yourself.

People like to do business with people they can engage with and trust.  Make sure you’re open, honest and be very conscious of your non-verbal communications too. Sitting forward and encroaching could be seen as aggression; sitting back and slouching could be seen as disrespectful and flippant.  Avoid looking disinterested or resting your head on your hands.

Be attentive, sit up straight and maintain friendly, comfortable eye contact.  Use active listening skills such as nodding in agreement, making audible sounds of acknowledgement, gently imitate body language and speech rhythms and ask relevant questions.
If it’s appropriate, share some personal information.  Talking about family or interests could establish a rapport but be careful not to offend or alienate the other party with extreme views.

Never Lie
Don’t overstretch the truth; don’t over exaggerate and never ever lie!  You will be found out at some point and, when you are, all trust will be lost and you will never be in a position to negotiate again.

Be Present
Be present and in the moment, listening to everything that’s said and picking up on subtle verbal and non-verbal clues.  Use questioning to ensure you understand everything and don’t make assumptions. Understand fully your opposite number’s position – what are they proposing; what are they asking for; what do they want and not want; why they want it.

Establish Common Ground
Establish the common ground and then use this commonality to build on.  Where are the shared interests, goals, objectives?  How can you help them whilst also helping yourself?
This also affirms your positive listening skills, demonstrating that you’ve placed the wishes and desires of your opposite at the very centre of the conversation.

Show Respect
Show that you respect your opposite by taking some time to consider their views, desires and perspectives.  Dismiss nothing out of hand and be prepared to explain why you are rejecting something, giving them the opportunity to understand what matters to you.

Make your offer
Now you’re ready to make your offer and this should be based on your expectations but also on the preceding discussions reaffirming that you’ve been listening and that you’re trying to encompass your desires with your opposite’s. This is also the perfect time to discuss where you could negotiate further and what’s non-negotiable but it also helps to explain why some aspects are non-negotiable.  If you can’t move on price because of overheads, say so but explore where you could offset this (perhaps with reciprocal marketing or something mutually beneficial).
The ‘Art of Negotiation’ is quite simply getting a good deal for all parties involved or reaching a consensual agreement for mutual benefit.
Be careful not to compromise too much – this is a business transaction and whilst mutual respect, honesty and flexibility will aid the process, the outcome may be that the deal on offer isn’t for you and you walk away, happy that you’ve explored all options and haven’t betrayed yourself or your organization. That doesn’t mean you don’t respect each other, in fact quite the opposite – you respect yourself as much as you respect them.

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This article was authored by Collin Millar (Twitter @colin_millar), a guest blogger at Business Fundas.Colin is the Chairman of Chartered Management Institute (CMI, Glasgow), an EFQM Business Excellence Practitioner & Accredited Assessor.  Colin Graduated in Management from the Open University Business School and has held several senior positions including Head of Criminal Records Bureau for a Scottish Police Force and Head of Operations for a Scottish based charity.