Marketing is defined as a process focused on a product or service delivered to the end consumers. It is the matching process between the needs and wants of customers and the market proposition. While stressing coordination, it also recognizes conflict and competition among units, the necessity for subsystem concessions, and the fact that resources must be used to maintain the system itself as well as to attain goals. For instance, marketing managers have the major responsibility of recognizing the relationships among the elements of the systems. Aaltonen and Ikavalko marketing is the process of moving people closer to making a decision to purchase.
They must comprehend their potential combinations and coordinate and integrate business factors so that goals are achieved effectively. To a large extent, the adoption of a systems perspective depends on the individual manager and his perception of the factors of variability in the system, the interaction of inputs, and the predictions of outputs resulting from the inputs. Marketing activities of McDonald’s vividly portray that the role of marketing is to fulfil the needs: fats and cheap food in the shortest period of time. Following Faulkner and Bowman underline that “marketing is both an “art” and a “science – there is a constant tension between the formulated side of marketing and the creative side.”
The future of a company’s international marketing strategy will be affected by cultural variations and new global business environment, foster market activities and increased competition. On the one hand, the “transnational” organization must forge a global strategy that is uniform and consistent worldwide, a plan that is designed to achieve global economies of scale. On the other hand, the corporate strategy must be responsive to individual country markets, accommodating a wide range of consumer preferences, local customs, differences in economic, political and legal systems — a tough balancing act for even the most nimble firms.
Effective international marketing strategies can result in significant benefits. Payoffs include, among other things, an improved climate within the financial community. Some firms have even experienced a boost in their share price and enhanced shareholder value. Some companies stand to gain more from strategy communications and disclosure of strategic information than others. Companies experiencing financial difficulty are prime candidates to reap the potential payoffs from open disclosure. Also, firms in an industry undergoing deregulation, companies in a start-up situation, firms in a turnaround situation and corporations planning a major diversification are likely to benefit from effective strategic communications.
Firms that are already highly diversified should also give serious consideration to open disclosure. International marketing strategies are subject to certain cultural contingencies. International marketing strategy and the determinants of strategic reputation are likely to be culturally conditioned. The conception and communication of global strategy must strike an elusive balance between worldwide consistency and local market adaptation. The way a company goes about achieving strategic credibility and the way a firm international strategic information will vary by country/region.
Effective international marketing strategy remains the exception rather than the rule. All too often, companies who stand to gain the most from open disclosure (e.g., firms in trouble) fail to “show up” and talk openly and candidly about their financial difficulties. In addition, suppliers, customers and employees frequently don’t understand underlying corporate strategies and are unable to appreciate and contribute to them. Other companies may be concerned that open and detailed disclosure of strategic information will create inflated expectations. This cautious impulse, understandable, frequently backfires. In the absence of available and reliable strategic information, the financial community is likely to draw its own negative conclusions. Furthermore, even financially strong companies who “neglect disclosure policy altogether will pay a high price if their earnings ever fail to meet expectations.”
Finally, culture, both corporate and national, may constrain open, frank and candid communications. Overcoming embedded cultural values appeared to be a challenge. Cultural influences also appeared to account for significant differences in the openness and timeliness of global strategic communications. For whatever reasons, all too often, the corporate strategy remains hidden from view, either misunderstood or unappreciated by key corporate constituencies. Many companies forego the benefits that might be achieved by timely, open and specific strategy communications. Corporate information can be grouped into three categories: “required,” “proprietary,” and “discretionary.” Required information is information that must be provided to comply with various regulatory rules, such as SEC requirements, and so on.
Companies have no choice in the disclosure of this type of information; compliance is mandatory. Proprietary information is information of a highly sensitive and confidential nature. The premature disclosure or “leaks” of proprietary information involving mergers, acquisitions, new products and technologies can have a chilling competitive impact on a company. This also happens to be the domain of a newly emerging field, sometimes referred to as “Competitive Intelligence.” This is high stakes — high-risk information territory where companies are well-advised to “play their cards close to the vest.” The third type of corporate information is discretionary. This is information about corporate strategy, past performance, future direction and prospects not required by disclosure regulations. It is information voluntarily provided to key corporate stakeholders.
Communications about the future are of special importance. While various stakeholders are interested in a company’s candid appraisal of poor performance (“talk to us in bad times as well as good”), they can be even more sensitive to information about management’s strategic intentions, which allow them to make judgments about future corporate prospects. Here, the experiences of some of our companies diverge from the results reported in the global strategic communications survey. Finally, do not assume that those who have a stake in a company’s fortune will necessarily have a complete understanding of the firm’s corporate strategy and strategic aspirations. This strategy was not clearly understood or appreciated by the financial community.
In the final analysis, international marketing strategy, in the world of corporate strategy as in political life and other areas of human endeavour, is a judicious mix of candour, competence and performance; a subtle blend of personal values, technical skills and just plain hard work. There are no shortcuts in the search for strategic credibility. A firm’s strategic reputation is not forged in the first 100 days — and more than likely, not in the first 1,000 days. The attainment of strategic credibility is a long-term process involving the interplay of a number of factors, including the development of an international marketing strategy, which ultimately must be translated into the solid corporate performance if credibility is to be maintained. Some companies may be tempted to go for a strategic credibility “quick-fix.” Given increasing global competitive pressures, these firms may try to talk their way out of trouble rather than working their way out (by strengthening strategic capabilities and shoring up weak performance). Clearly, international marketing strategy is not achieved by glib phrases or empty rhetoric.
And yet, the forward-looking strategy may not be understood or appreciated by key stakeholders. Furthermore, performance doesn’t always “speak for itself” — as some have suggested. Frequently, an effective international marketing strategy is needed to leverage a superior strategy and solid performance. Organizational commitment, although certainly waning in recent years, has not completely disappeared, but employees need to be provided with a corporate strategic vision for the future that goes beyond retrenchment, restructuring and reengineering. Suppliers and strategic partners need to know where the company is headed and how it intends to get there. Even the enthusiasm of overzealous advocates of increased government rules and regulations may be dampened by a display of open, timely, voluntary disclosure.
The journey in search of an international marketing strategy is a long one, but it starts with a single step. With many companies, this first step is long overdue. Others, who have already set out on the journey, have found that a commitment to open, candid and timely communications are an investment in the future well worth making. These companies have a headstart in the race to achieve world competitiveness — not just because they have outstanding strategy communications programs; world-class companies do many things well, including being responsive to the legitimate information needs of key stakeholders and other concerned constituencies.
International marketing strategy is in the eyes of the beholders, key stakeholders and corporate constituencies who define a company’s international marketing strategy according to their understanding of its performance, goals and strategic soundness. Does the strategic thrust of the firm make sense? Is it reliable and believable? Strategic credibility, as defined, is more specific than the general notion of corporate image. It is also more focused than the concept of corporate reputation developed by Fortune magazine, although there is probably some overlap — most notably under two attributes of reputation used by Fortune — “quality of management” and “financial soundness.”
In sum, the future of international marketing strategy will be enhanced by the reputation and image projected by its chief executive officer. If the CEO is highly visible, widely known and respected and is effective in communicating the company’s future strategic direction, the firm’s strategic reputation may be bolstered. Indeed, Fortune magazine includes “quality of management” as one of eight major attributes of corporate reputation in its annual survey.