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We recently collaborated on the creation of the Reference Practice for Market Orientation of Profit and Non-Profit Organizations, published by UNI (the Italian Organization for Standards) and promoted by AISM (the largest association of marketing professionals).

Within it, the concept of market orientation is defined as follows:

It is the corporate philosophy and conscious, explicit will of organizations and their members to create value for themselves and the market, in an institutionalized manner and with a focus on continuous improvement, through the identification, interpretation, possible anticipation, and satisfaction of the needs and expectations of the market itself, involving it where possible in value co-creation, following the ethical-deontological principles that distinguish our culture and contributing to the improvement of the socio-economic climate of the country, with positive repercussions also from political and institutional perspectives.

Like all definitions, this one also suffers from the need to be both specific to the discipline and general enough to be applicable to different contexts. The risk in these cases is not feeling it relevant to our specific case, but we all surely agree that market orientation is an important thing.

In reality, it is rare to encounter managers and companies that are not convinced of being market-oriented. When you address the topic, you always feel like people are thinking of something theoretical, a cliché, or a concept that’s good for marketing textbooks.

However, from experience, reality is very different.

So, apart from theoretical definitions, here are what we believe are the symptoms of a lack of market orientation. There are 5 signs to consider, let’s see what they are.

1 – Feeling overwhelmed

Often, less market-oriented entrepreneurs suffer from a feeling of being overwhelmed. They feel behind the world around them. They don’t feel “in control,” things move faster than they do. They can’t keep up.

The news seems all-important. Customers are increasingly demanding, competitors seem to know more than the devil, partners and suppliers are increasingly aggressive, and the uncertain scenario we all face scares them and makes them more uncomfortable than necessary.

In this case, the problem is that little time is devoted to investment in knowledge. There’s no time dedicated to identifying important things, to clarifying and truly focusing on the characteristics of customers, competitors, one’s own company (strengths and weaknesses), and the working environment (opportunities and threats). Information is not collected, nor are estimates made because essentially it is believed that everything is already known.

Something apparently trivial like a SWOT analysis could help a lot.

2 – Excellent products, but it seems no one cares

Another possible symptom has to do with the offering. Many entrepreneurs claim to see competitors with objectively less qualitative and performing products than theirs having more success. Customers seem indifferent to the quality of the products, and even if they perceive and recognize it, they do not consider the value offered balanced with the price asked in return.

In this case, very often the problem is having lost contact with customers, or addressing the wrong customers, perhaps emphasizing aspects of the offer that are not relevant to them. The quality that makes the difference is always the “perceived” one, and perception is a subjective, never objective, matter. It depends on individual needs and expectations. If you don’t work on the first point, knowledge, and clarity, even on the offer, the game becomes difficult.

What helps here is trying to understand how the features of the products and services we offer translate into benefits in the eyes of the customers we want to target.

3 – The work team is not up to par

Sometimes the problem is that the work team, both internal and external (consultants and agencies), is passive, waits for instructions, sticks to the assigned task, and has little initiative. For example, salespeople do not understand the product, do not know how to present it, and always ask for more aggressive prices. The entrepreneur generally trusts his work team; very often they are the people he has always worked with to build the company. But there is that extra gear missing that would be necessary to really make a difference.

The point here is that if you only look at the products, it seems like you’re in a dead end. There are many theoretically to be performed activities to improve contacts and interactions with customers. You should try to set different goals, less focused on sales and more on the ability to create relationships. With clear objectives and an offer built accordingly, in fact, it is very likely that people’s motivation and their proactivity and effectiveness will also grow.

Changing perspective and reasoning about the mapping of the customer journey and the various contact points to be managed can be a great help in this regard.

4 – Few social interactions

Many companies we come across are present on various social platforms and regularly post content following an editorial plan. They adopt all the necessary techniques, study algorithms, experiment with novelties, and have a routine that activates a circle of trusted contacts to give a boost to the content as soon as it is published. But beyond that, there are no interactions or they are very sporadic.

In this case, the problem lies in excessive focus on the editorial plan and self-referentiality. Many stories about the company and the facts directly concerning it (a new product, a new point of sale, participation in a fair) and few contents centered on how its products and services can make a difference in customers’ lives.

We should reflect on the fact that we are all beings in evolution and transformation. Customers included. What interests them (and therefore should also interest those who aspire to serve them) is how to evolve and transform in the easiest way possible, and if the products they come into contact with can have a role in this process.

5 – “Hit and run” customers always looking for the opportunity

And since we’re talking about customers. Often these companies have good customers, many of whom are “historic customers,” but the new ones are different. They are the so-called “hit and run” customers. They mainly seek price and convenience and are ready to seize the first opportunity to switch to the competition.

The point is that today customers have many alternatives, this is a scenario fact, and to be relevant, a sale is no longer enough. The sale is only the beginning of a relationship that then develops and generates interactions that increase the customer experience and impact loyalty. To be truly market-oriented, this relationship cannot be neglected but rather should be central to the marketing strategy.

If you manage to work in this way, it will be easier to position your offer correctly, attract the customers you really want, and even help you through positive referrals to attract new ones.

These are in our opinion the most evident symptoms of a lack of market orientation. Do you recognize any of them? Let’s schedule a call and discuss it!

PS. If you want to download the UNI/PdR 133:2022 you can do so at the following link