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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Need for Middle-Out Development of Marketing Strategy

The current tendency to move decision making closer to those concerned with implementing decisions in order to make use of their local market and customer knowledge is timely, particularly in relation to marketing strategy. This tendency is reflected both in the shift away from broad strategic analysis and towards encouraging strategic thinking throughout the organisation; and in the emergence of more decentralised strategy development through structural innovations such as Strategic Business Units. For the manager-in-the-middle who has historically had the task of relating the broad corporate strategies to the detail of delivering products and services to the customer, this shift in emphasis creates new stresses, for it is not possible for him to assume, even in the most stablished consumer goods companies, that the strategic development of such activities can be construed within the traditional marketing mix (4Ps) framework. Under such circumstances, he needs a framework which enables him to take account of the crucial interactions going on within the market's infrastructure itself between customers, competition and channels (3Cs). If the manager-in-the-middle is then to be effective in responding to his increasingly complex responsibilities in relation to such markets, he must also be given the ability to manage the micro-organisational context within which he delivers products and services. This micro-organisational context is crucial because it determines the quality of the relationship that can be sustained with the customer. The higher the quality of the relationship, the tighter the coupling that can be maintained with the local market. Such tight coupling makes the relationship with the customer more defensible against competition. It therefore provides the basis for sustaining and developing the profitability of value-adding products and services so necessary to long term corporate survival.