Agile marketing for the manufacturing-based SME
Purpose ‐ To examine the application of the principles of "agile manufacturing" to marketing strategy, planning and management, in the context of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Design/methodology/approach ‐ Uses the case-study method to test the development and deployment of "agile marketing" by applying the marketing techniques normally practised only by larger companies, within the "hard" and "soft" constraints imposed by one small company's managerial attitudes, corporate resources and time horizons. The host company was a UK supplier of technological products to other manufacturers; it had no history of marketing. The focus of the study was on the third stage of the agility framework: how a proactive marketing approach can be used to generate new custom. Findings ‐ "Agile marketing" innovations released latent capacity, and a strategic marketing plan was devised to win new custom. After follow-up, four new customers had been recruited, and the potential for developing long-term relations with them was good. This proactive approach was recognised by the company to be a cost-effective route to business growth, as was the ease with which the plan could be reconfigured when new market niches were to be targeted. Research limitations/implications ‐ The case study provides one "snapshot" of the outcome of transferring agility principles from manufacturing to marketing. The findings are nonetheless indicative and thought-provoking. Practical implications ‐ Such marketing as small companies practise is more likely to be reactive than proactive. They rarely have the resources to take advantage of marketing ideas transferred from the big-business setting. There are thus many constraints on their ability to respond cost-effectively and swiftly to changes in their operating environment. The more flexible and reconfigurable the manufacturing and marketing systems, the more likely that growth will be achieved. Any spare capacity can then be channelled into recruiting new customers. Originality/value ‐ Transfers a planning framework and set of procedures from manufacturing management to marketing strategy and planning in the challenging environment of SMEs.
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