Monday, July 11, 2011

Probably my favorite HBR article of all time: Marketing Myopia

Since I read it as a MBA student in the early-1990s, this has always been my favorite marketing article. Its simplicity belies its importance. I'd say that over three-quarters of all strategy errors I've seen have to do with not understanding the basic question Levitt asks:
Marketing Myopia, 50-Plus Years On : Why has 'Marketing Myopia' lasted so well over a 50-year-period when so many management big ideas have gone the way of the failed industries Levitt cites in his classic? Its clarity and its ambition. Since its original publication in HBR in 1960, 'Marketing Myopia' has thrived in large part for its everything-you-know-is-wrong premise. It's built around the question 'What business are you in?' — and it invariably prompts the answer 'Uh-oh, not the business I thought I was in.'
Read the whole thing, then spring for a couple of bucks and read Levitt's paper.

Business models may change, its technologies and techniques may evolve, but when all the details are swept away, at the basis of every business model there's a match between firm resources and consumer needs. Understanding how this match works and how it creates value is still how managers create successful strategies.