Markides is a professor at the London Business School. The basic idea in this excellent strategy book is as follows:
STRATEGIC POSITIONING is simply the sum of a company's answers to three questions:
> WHO should I target as customers?
> WHAT products or services should I offer them?
> HOW can I best deliver these products and services to these customers?
Strategy is all about making tough choices in these three dimensions (who, what, and how). Remember that deciding what NOT to do is just as important as deciding what to do...
The next issue is then to construct the appropriate organizational environment that will support the choices made. Also in this area, Markides contributes with a refreshingly clear and practical approach.
Markides argues that even the best of strategies will only have a limited life. Thus, companies must continually evaluate their performance and position in order to be able to quickly create and colonize new strategic positions. Strategy is a dynamic concept - not static. A very practical approach to innovate strategic thinking is to keep starting the process at different points: who/what/how, who/how/what, what/who/how, what/how/who, how/what/who, how/what/who, and finally how/who/what.
Thus, The marketing philosophy always starts externally at the customer (who?) and works backwards towards solutions (what?), and finally adapts the firm's delivery system (how?). But a strong trend during the last decade has been on the internal perspective on core competences, such as procurement or production. This method means that we start with own unique capabilities in the delivery system (how?), which then is translated into solutions (what?) and finally customers (who?). Radical innovation often is created this way, e.g. the "walkman". In practice of business development, we usually have to work in both directions.
This book is not a dry academic's dusty words. Markides uses a wealth of case stories on strategic positions. Being a Dane, I find it very nice indeed that the companies cited often are of European origin.
Nirmalya Kumar's brilliant book "Marketing as Strategy" (2004) expands on Markides' ideas in this book. They both are indebted to professor Derek Abell for the original concept presented in the landmark strategy book: "Defining the business" (1980).
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business