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The Changing Scenario of Management Education in India
Prof. C. S. Venkataratnam, Member, FICCI Higher Education Committee & Director, IMI, New Delhi
Ms Shobha Mishra,
Joint Director & Team Leader, Education & Health Services Division, FICCI
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path: MBA in Retail Management
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Excelling in a changing business environment

By Dr Ranjeet Mehta

Any fool can paint a picture but it takes a wise man to be able to Market and sell it.
A business can have excellent products and services but without effective marketing will ultimately fail. Excellent marketing skills and techniques are essential for a company’s success.

What is the purpose of a business? Every time I ask this question during a class and seminar, the immediate answer that I get back is, “To make a profit”. But this answer is wrong. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. If a business successfully creates and keeps customers in a cost-effective way, it will make a profit while continuing to survive and thrive. If, for any reason, a business fails to attract or sustain a sufficient number of customers, it will experience losses. Too many losses will lead to the demise of the enterprise.

Today’s customers do not want products; they demand solutions, and solutions do not come in a box. They must be designed, fashioned to meet the customer’s specific needs. Making such marketing effort takes a lot more than charisma. Today’s marketing is system marketing, solution marketing and consultative marketing; it entails analyzing customer needs, designing alternative solutions, scrutinizing costs, developing and implementing systems, and more.

Modern marketing is a team sport, and a complex one at that. Winning at it takes discipline and structure. Making it up as you go along is a recipe for disaster. To compete in this era of cut-throat competition--the very first thing the marketer has to keep in mind is: Customer Care. You need to think “outside the box”, or beyond common sense and standard rules to market your products and services.

Customer care should be a mind set for business success

Customer care is not a technique, it is a mindset. It is a customer-focused corporate mindset and culture that inspires teams to keep creating and delivering extraordinary customer value and thus helps companies acquire new customers, provide superior customer satisfaction, and build customer loyalty.

Good marketers never forget that their business is ruled by the market place

You do not decide what business you are in; the marketplace decides that for you... People will only buy what they want to buy, or are afraid not to buy, at a given moment in time. Tailoring your business plan to what the market will buy is always a more successful strategy than developing a new product or service without knowing precisely the customers for it and hoping that people would buy it because it’s good. Many things are good, and people need many things. But the “need” is not enough. Nobody buys what they need. Before people will buy something they “need”, two things have to happen:

* They have to recognize and accept that they need it.

* They must act upon that recognition and acceptance.

Before people know they need something, you often have to spend lots of money educating them about why they need it. While preparing your business and marketing plan, anticipate also the curveballs that the marketplace will throw at you and may cause you to change direction.

Offer excellent customer value proposition

As a great marketer your company should deliver a particular customer value proposition to a definable market in order to exist. The delivery of the customer value proposition relies on a business design, which uses key business processes to harness the distinctive capabilities, competences and resources of your firm to deliver superior value to relevant markets. Customer value propositions and business designs compete and collaborate for customers, resources, infrastructures and skills on strategic landscapes.

New definitions of value

In the new rapidly changing economy, the focus must be on the way in which the nature of value is changing, involving new ways to price goods, information and emotion. The implication of these new forms of exchange is a transfer of power from the producer to the customer. There are multitudes of values present in every buyer-seller exchange: economic, informational and emotional. These exchanges increasingly happen so fast that there is no time to translate them into precise monetary terms. Businesses will need to identify these hidden values and think more accurately about their worth before accepting the price proposed. The implications are profound.

Unique positioning and differentiation

The two most important words to keep in mind in developing a successful customer base are positioning and differentiation.

Positioning refers to the way your customers think and talk about you and your company when you are not there. The position that you hold in the customer’s mind determines all of his reactions and interactions with you. Your position determines whether or not your customer buys, whether he buys again and whether he refers others to you. Everything that you do with regard to your customer affects the way your customer thinks about you.

Never forget six rules to excel

* Create customer value through complete solution.

* Challenge the status quo, encouraging creative out-of-the-box thinking mixed with pragmatic business judgment. Come out of the comfort zone.

* Quality matters the most. Produce top quality product at and bring them into the market before the competition.

* Make cross-functional involvement the path of least resistance.

* Be receptive to change, but selective in accepting requests for change.

* Innovation is the key. Always encourage new knowledge about innovation, including reinventing the innovation process itself.

The author is Professor and Head, Training, Rai Business School