Is your business model outdated?

In recent years, I keep hearing the same comment pop up in conversation when discussing the fortunes of any, particularly successful company. It goes something like this:

“Ah yes, but they’re really just a marketing company who sell _____ (insert product or service here).”

What’s wrong this model

I’ve lost track of the times I’ve heard Wetherspoons described this way, as some ‘marketing company who sell beer’, could there be something to it?

The reality is that Wetherspoons have simply realised the massive potential of marketing, not only for forging external opinion and creating awareness but for also for driving the internal cultures and practices of the company.

But the did make me think. Your traditional business model probably looks something like this:



To work this way you need systems and procedures that allow for expansion and continuity. You’ll even need sales and marketing to raise awareness and generate revenue, while also requiring a healthy cash flow to fund it all. But is this the only way?

Could the world be wrong?

People recognise this business model the world over and have done so for centuries, with one slight exception. Marketing.

In fact:

“The first marketing course was only offered in 1905 when the University of Pennsylvania offered a course called ‘The Marketing of Products’.”

Before that, the recognised business model only featured Sales and Advertising, or often just Sales. Marketing has only really come into its own over the past 30 years or so.

Its ‘breakaway’ moment from being simply ‘something you do with advertising’ and being considered a discipline in its own right was probably with the advent of ‘relationship marketing’ and Kotler’s observation that customers cost considerably more to acquire than retain.

New thinking

With banks now insisting on a marketing plan as part of a company’s business plan, and Marketing Directors taking their place on the board alongside the FD and MD, do you need to revisit your traditional business model to make your own company more successful?

Companies such as Wetherspoons, Starbucks, ASDA, easyJet, Google seem to have done just that.

Their successes have come from this new approach and having a business model designed for today, probably something more like this:



As social media now allows you to have a dialogue with consumers and makes ‘shopping around’ easier than ever, then doesn’t it make sense that the role of your marketing should be ingrained even deeper into the running of your company?

Deeper marketing roots

What do you want from your local pub? Affordable beer, good quality food, a seat, friendly bar staff or just being able to hear yourself talk.

Not everyone wants the same thing, but a lot do, and Wetherspoons gives it to them in bucket loads.

Their marketing influenced their approach to staff training, pricing policy and ultimately cash flow to end up with arguably the most successful pub chain in the UK today. And this is true for so many major companies around the world today.

I believe that your current business model has to change to help you survive in the current economic environment and help you to compete effectively.