The Marketing Continuity Factor
You’re ready to step down. Here’s a handy transition plan as you hand over the reins to the next generation.
The question of functional continuity arises when the first generation of a family-opened company is ready to hand the management reins to the children or when the founder becomes incapacitated. This affects key operational areas of general management, finance, production and marketing and is a crucial time for deciding the future of the company.
The success of business continuity rests on the sibling most competent to assume one (or several) posts in the company. Change is inevitable and, considering that the elder generation has cultivated the next generation for management roles, the expected movement in the organization is an orderly transition of the heir taking the helm. However, when change is the result of a sudden death, the new head of the company needs to learn the ropes of the business quickly.
How do you ensure continuity in your business?
Research, Research, Research
Undertake research studies especially when you (the incoming heir) don’t know a thing about the company, its products and its customers. Establish the marketing mix that the company presently follows. Conduct interviews with the personnel associated with the marketing function, talk to suppliers concerned (ad agency, material suppliers, etc.) and the top 10 customers of the company. Conduct a formal market survey of your target market (Usage, Attitude, Image or UAI) and the trade through a third party service company. The research study can include the issues of affordability, sales channel visibility, competitive assessment and consumption patterns.
Your research will help you determine whether the company and its products are doing well in the market or not. It will also tell you about its weaknesses and threats to help you better decide.
Evaluate the Marketing Game Plan
Prepare a marketing plan that sets the tone of how the company should go about the function. Inputs can come from the results of your research and translated into a matrix called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). You will be surprised what this will reveal for a first timer. Some companies will be forced to take another business direction or take a paradigm shift.
If there is a marketing plan already in place revalidate the objectives, strategies, budgets and forecasted results. The new executive must have a clear idea where he or she is supposed to go, how far the destination, how long the journey, the best route to take and how much gas is needed in the tank to reach the destination.
Get Consultants to Effect Continuity or Change
Consultants can jumpstart the change needed, or vastly improve on the continuity that may be decided. They shorten timeframe and provide fresh insights on the latest developments. Get the services of an advertising agency to improve packaging, brand image and advertising or sales promotions program.
Hire Professionals to do the Marketing and Sales Function
The next generation managers of family-owned SMEs may want to hire qualified individuals to handle its marketing functions. Their professional presence should enable the company to move forward faster. Pay these professionals the right wages, provide them with the right working atmosphere and motivate them to excel. Remember, without a good marketing and sales team, a company’s commercial viability is at risk. Or if it already exists, review their performance and look at ways to motivate them to further excel and deliver the business objectives.
You can also outsource these services on a contractual arrangement with the right service providers to reduce costs.
The author can be reached at mbpidmbc@I-manila.com.ph or at Market Bridges Phils., Inc., 11-0 Burgundy Corporate Plaza Bldg., 252 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Tel: (63-2) 886-4122 to 23
Source: Business Line Vol. 2 No. 2 2004