Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Global marketplace diversity as business ecosystem niche space – 4: conveying the message as realized business niche

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 4, 2011

This is my eighth installment in a series on marketplace diversity in Business Strategy and Operations (see postings 160-162, 167, 172, 174 and 180) and my fourth of that to discuss the application of a rigorous niche and niche space ecosystems model to the business context.

I have been developing a very specific business and marketplace-centric model, looking at businesses and their structure and operations as from the outside, as they fit into the marketplace. And I have been discussing competition and unique value, and parameters that would create them from this outward, context-driven perspective. And that brings me to a point I have touched upon, but without exploring in any of the details.

• A point of difference that could be seen as setting a business apart is only a meaningful distinction if it offers specific value in the marketplace, and to the people that business would reach out to as customers.
• But customers have to at the very least see it as a source of value to them, and ideally would perceive it as a source of significant, unique value to them for it to actually offer real value.

Regardless of the merits of any particular offering, this can only work if customers and potential customers are aware of these points of difference offered. And this makes effective marketing an essential part of a business and a core competency area. But marketing is also an area that many if not most businesses, large and small outsource and in part or whole. And this brings me to a very fundamental question:

• What aspects of marketing and communications can effectively be outsourced and what really should remain in-house?

I discuss this starting with a simple set of context questions in mind.

• How often have I seen marketing campaigns that do not seem to connect to the businesses they claim to represent?
• How often have I seen marketing that is not and cannot be cost-effective as done, or that at the very least looses opportunities for creating cost-effectiveness?

And I start addressing my primary, first bullet point question here by paring away some easily identified areas that for most businesses should be managed by third parties.

• Web site and social media presence hosting.

First of all, the technology that is required for this falls way outside of the core competency areas for most businesses and organizations in general, so it makes more sense to have this handled, and handled more cost effectively by third party providers with expertise and core competency there. Second, for large areas of online presence, and certainly for communications areas such as social media, there is real value in connecting into and leveraging the established reputations and community involvement that established third party providers can bring to bear. In an earlier generation, only a company setting out to develop a new phone book as their product would build a new yellow pages listing to market themselves through. Today the only businesses that would seek to build their own short message services counterpart to Twitter, or social networking site like Facebook are businesses that are seeking to break into those fields and build their own unique value propositions in the face of the competition already there. Any other business should simply tap into their name recognition and established technology base and connect out through them. As a general principle,

• Outsource where you need to access the results of having a specialized technology base and its specialized expert supporting staff, but where that technology and its staffing requirements do not directly fit into your core capabilities and where you would be getting less on your own while robbing yourself of liquidity and capacity to fulfill your own mission.

This brings me to a second point for consideration here:

• Web design, to a significant degree.

This is not as simple or clear cut as hosting and related technology are, as there are some areas that clearly make the most sense to turn over to third party specialists, but there are areas that really need to be maintained in-house as core competency resources. So you may not, for example find value in having teams of database or internet user interface programmers on staff or experts at drafting and using wireframe models and other web development tools. But you really do need to be able to reality check anything that third party providers offer and whether that means building from a standard template or building from scratch as a fully customized solution, just for your business or organization. You own your business’ products and services, and your core brand, and you have to be the one from in-house to make sure that whatever a third party provider offers, it at the very least supports your vision of your business. This is crucially important for any customer and marketplace facing areas of your online presence.

• Branding and message?

In general, you should hold this in-house except for specific types of areas of responsibility that can be taken as special exceptions. If for example, you are seeking to break into a new market and expand your business to address the needs and interests of members of a new-to-you community, you may need expert help there. This definitely applies where that means crossing language barriers and significant cultural divides and you want your message to be translated into a form that your new, larger audience would find attractive and compelling – and not jarring and awkward.

You may also need to bring in a fresh set of eyes and a fresh mind and new ideas if you see your standard in-house branding as having gone stale and you are not sure how to correct for that from your own experience or through your own staff. But bottom line, what you represent yourself with as brand and message has to accurately, effectively, appealingly reflect your business. And that means making the finalizing decisions in-house and it means bring your business’ input into the design, branding and content to make this your own. And if your business offers a unique value proposition to the marketplace, that should shine through and that message has to come from within your organization.

And I come to the core area you always need to retain in-house and never simply want to outsource to a third party provider – any third party provider:

• Your core vision of your business and what it is and does, and your internal processes for understanding and formulating your core message.

This definitely includes maintaining in-house all aspects of your unique value propositions and the bases you hold for maintaining market share, and your message as you publically define and present them. And how you do this defines functionally, and as a source of value to your business, a very significant part of the business ecological niche that your business will be defined by the marketplace as occupying. And with that I offer what I might suggest as a viable axiomatic assumption, to only break as a matter of specifically considered special exceptions.

• If your core marketing and communications messages form a core component of the ecological niche that your business occupies in its marketplace and they do, then retain in-house those parts of your marketing and communications that specifically define and add value to who you are as a business, and as the holder of a value defining niche.

I expect to come back to this set of issues, and to add further postings on modeling businesses to better represent their diversity, and their competitive strengths and limitations in their marketplaces.

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: