I just had a very short debate on Twitter. It went like this:
Me: "If you're a good marketer in good times (not just an order-taker), wouldn't you be a good marketer in bad times?"
Response: "A good marketer in a bad market will still only command their respective (albeit large) share of said market."
Me: "I think a good marketer strives to create their own pie (not share of market), own the whole shebang, and work to make it bigger."
Response: "I agree, but no matter what your product, there's SOME competition- it's a zero sum game, you can't fabricate cash 4 them."
Me: "I don't subscribe to the zero sum game. Business markets are too dynamic."
Response: "So, how's that going for you? Are you manifesting markets for your products?"
Clearly this person has no idea who I am and doesn't realize I am a legend in my own mind.
But all seriousness aside, I do think he has a too-common attitude shared among most business people and marketers. It's the old, "Let's create this cool new product and then go find people to buy it!" Yes, there are winning examples, but overall that's the tough way to succeed.
Typically, when we create a new product, it's "more of the same, but better." We are familiar with an industry and a particular product line and think we can improve on it. "Our frammajammet will be 10X faster than the current market leader!"
In these cases, yes, it's a zero sum game. We go out and take market share away from the other players. The trouble with that is the other players tend to fight back, responding with a new, even faster frammajammet…or the speed is as fast as yours, but cheaper. When you are product-driven, you fight that kind of commodity-based battle.
My preference is to be market-driven. Select a market, research it to death, understand its problems and pain, then create a solution. The market can be an existing, defined market, or it might not even exist yet. If your responsibility is business development, I'd recommend being market-driven.
Market-driven companies can establish non-traditional relationships, connected by intangible threads that are difficult to replicate and break. They want to literally read the market's mind, developing solutions the market wants desperately, but doesn't know it yet. My debate opponent got it backwards. It's not "…manifest markets for my products." It's "manifest products for my markets."
That's truly the secret of a market-driven company. Reading the market's mind. It's not asking the market what it wants. Markets NEVER know what they want. Henry Ford once famously said, "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."
That's also why market-driven companies don't play a zero sum game. They define their own markets and pull out all the stops to own that market. If they're really good at it, would-be competitors won't even get on the playing field. In fact, competitors may not even KNOW there is a playing field.
My debate opponent may have thought he got the last word in with his little dig, but he doesn't know, does he? He doesn't know about MY playing fields.