The Marketing Concept

The marketing concept requires organisations to put customers and their needs at the core of the business. This philosophy implies that organisation can achieve their objectives and survive in the long-term by satisfying customers’ needs and wants (Jobber et al., 2012). Therefore, implementing this approach means to match the company’s capabilities with the requirements of specific market segments (Riley, 2012). This approach is based on an ‘outside-in perspective’ (Jobber et al., 2012) whose idea is to organise all company’s activities around customers and their needs. Embracing this vision means that marketing becomes not only an activity through which acquiring and analysing information on consumers’ trends and habits, but also a means to provide input to all other areas within organisations. In additions, decisions have to be taken with reference to the components of the marketing mix (product, price, promotion, place).

In terms of strategies, industrial and consumer markets require the implementation of different methods and techniques. In B2B markets, products are more complex and may require higher level of customisation. Within these markets buyers are experienced and the purchase is likely to be evaluated in light of the potential return of investment. In this case, organisations should stay as closer as possible to their customer and make sure account management teams have the right technical knowledge to understand customers’ requirements and propose possible solutions.

In terms of price, negotiations are more likely to happen in B2B markets than in B2B ones and organisations may be asked to participate to bids. Promotion also presents some differences; with industrial buyers advertising may fail to reach the influencers of purchasing decision, while this would be possible in B2B markets.

How does the experience of the buyers (industrial/consumer) influence the decision-making process during the purchase phase and what are the consequences for marketing strategies?


Jobber, D. and Lancaster, G. (2012) Selling and Sales Management. Nineth Edition. Harlow. Pearson Education

Riley, J. (2012) Marketing Concept & Marketing Orientation. Online at [accessed 21 February 2014]

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Advantages and disadvantages of CRM

CRM has been defined by Peppers et al. (1992) as a way of developing the relationships with customers in order to achieve competitive advantage and sustain the growth of the business in the long-term. Essentially, CRM is a way of gathering and processing information in order to understand customers’ needs and behaviours so that customers can be retained within the business through the creation of  loyalty and trust (Chambers et al., 2010). Consequently, the focus of CRM seems to be on creating value for the business by retaining existing customers in the long-term (Winer, 2001).

The main advantages of CRM are:

–        The business learms what the needs of its customers are and can organise their operations accordingly. The goal is to provide the products/services they expect and maximise effectiveness and efficiency of the operations

–        It allows organisations to see how customers’ needs evolve overtime and adjust their operations accordingly

–        CRM can increase customer retention, favour repeated purchases, increase profit and improve the quality of the products/services provided

–        It supports planning and control activities, since they are a way of reconciling supply and demand (Ibid.). In this respect, CRM can be used to analyse current trends, forecast future trends and monitor the evolution of the demand overtime.

–        CRM can help creating unique and exclusive relationships with single customers or group of customers. This have a positive, psycological effect on customers who feel considered and listened to.

Disadvantages of CRM are:

–        It seems to be mainly focused on retantion of existing customers rather than on the acquisition of new ones

–        Legal aspects (e.g.: privacy) and ethical issues should be considered during its implementation

–        It may lead organisations to discriminate group of customers. More profitable customers may enjoy better treatments and conditions than occasional customers. This may damage the image of the company

Surely, CRM represents a marketing approach to build solid and long lasting relationships with individual customers (Jackson qtd. in Parvatiyar et al., 2001). Through the use of CRM technologies and techniques, organisations focus on the active involvement of customers rather than on the manipulation of their perceptions in regards of their needs and behaviours (McKenna qtd. in Parvatiar et al. 2001). Therefore, the idea of CRM mainly concerned with the retention of existing customers comes from the fact that they represent the primary source of information on which building a CRM strategy.

However, CRM along with the application of marketing techniques, can also serve to attract new customers. I think for example at market segmentation: through the analysis of the consumer habits of existing customers, organisations can define trends, behaviours and needs of the specific market segments to which these customers belong. Therefore, changes in the products/services or in the operations aimed at satisfying different segments can actually lead to the acquisition of new clients. Existing customers will provide information to reach the specific market segments to which they belong as we can assume consumers within the same segments have similar needs and habits.



Chambers, S., Johnston, R. and Slack, N. (2010) Operations Management. Sixth Edition. Harlow. Pearson Educational Limited.

Parvatiyar, A. and Sheth, JN. (2001) Customer Relationship Management: Emerging Practice, Process and Discipline. Journal of Economic and Social Research, 3(2): 1-34. Online at <> [accessed 27 April 2013]

Peppers, D. and Rogers, M. (2010) Managing Customer Relationships: A Strategic Framework. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons. Online at <> [accessed 23 April 2013]

Winer, R. (2001) A Framework for Customer Relationship Management. California Management Review, 43(4): 89-105. Online at <> [accessed 25 April 2013]

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Emotional Intelligence

Mayer et al. (2004: 82) define EI as ‘the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in self and others’. This definition links together the concepts of intelligence, intended as the cognitive sphere which includes reasoning, memory, judgment, abstract thought and the sphere of emotions which instead includes personal and other people’s emotions, moods and feeling states (Mayer and Salovey qtd. in Salovey and Sluyter, 1997). Therefore, EI allows a more comprehensive approach to individual abilities, skills and behaviour as it considers how emotions and thinking interact and can influence one another (Ibid.). In general, EI refers to the ability of identifying oneself and others’ emotion, assessing and possibly predict their impact on behaviours and attitudes (Mullins, 2010).

People who are emotional intelligent have a great sense of self which helps them understand other people, retain focus and identify what is important (Modassir, 2008; Quy, 1999). In this sense, EI is very important for managers and leaders: it allows them to understand and control their personal emotions and develop empathy towards the people they supervise. Through EI they can communicate more effectively, listen to individuals and better understand their personality, attitudes, ambitions, needs and expectations. Goleman (n.d.) claims that the ’emotional task of the leader is primal…the most important act of leadership’ and it is leaders’ role to convey collective emotions towards the right, productive direction. EI favours better connections between individuals and it is particularly relevant in the modern organisational environment where people see their jobs as a way of developing and self-actualising themselves. Therefore, EI can be a source of competitive advantage as it favours engagement, motivation and assists organisations in retaining and developing talents (Voola et al., 2004).



Goleman, D. (n.d.) On Primal Leadership. Online at <> accessed [24 February 2013]

Mayer, JD., Bracket, MA. and Salovey, P. (2004) Emotional Intelligence: Key Readings on the Mayer and Salovey Model. New York. Dude Publishing.

Mayer, JD. And Salovey, P. (1997) What is Emotional Intelligence? In Salovey, P. and Sluyter, DJ. (Eds.) Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence. New York. Basic Books. Online at <> [accessed 22 February 2013]

Modassir, A. (2008) Relationship of Emotional Intelligence with Transformational Leadership and Organizational Citizenship Behavior. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 4(1): 3-21. Online at <> [accessed 23 February 2013]

Mullins, LJ. (2010) Management & Organisational Behaviour. Ninth Edition. Harlow. Pearson Education Limited.

Quy, NH. (1999) Emotional Capability, Emotional Intelligence, and Radical Change. The Academy of Management Review, 24(2): 325-345. Online at <> [accessed 24 February 2013]

Voola, R., Carlson, J. and West, A. (2004) Emotional intelligence and competitive advantage: examining the relationship from a resource-based view.Strategic Change, 13: 83-93. Online at <> [accessed 24 February 2013]

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Ethics in Project Management

White (1998) defines ethics as the evaluation of the human actions according to the perspective of some moral values and principles. It therefore embeds the concept of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Ethics principles can be different among societies and individuals different values and priorities are another element that leads to diverse interpretations of ethics , even whereas there is the acceptance of shared moral principles. In this respect, there are therefore different layer of ethics:

–       General: a set of high-end principles to which a society will inspire

–       Normative: the link between high-end principle and practical application. Norms provide guidance

–       Practical: the one closer to the individual – How should I behave in this particular situation?

Some areas where moral issues can arise in PM are:

–       Managing and balancing the competing interests of stakeholders

–       Staff management (e.g.: discrimination of people, PM decisions that can lead to employees dismissal, excessive request of overtime, discrimination between employees and external contractors, etc.)

–       Assuming responsibility of their own decisions (blaming others is often an easier option)

–       Confidentiality of information

–       Definition of priorities

The main issue for PMs is to understand how their role of responsibility requires going beyond their own personal sense of ethics in order to conciliate the need of delivering the project and adherence to a specific set of ethical values. In this respect, the application of a deontological code can provide the necessary guidance to take decisions that can be effective and fair.

PMs should be responsible of ensuring that projects are delivered in adherence to ethical and deontological standards. This may be difficult, as often PMs do not have direct control on all the elements of the project. However they should guarantee that the decisions they make will be in line with ethical principles or won’t lead to unethical behaviours.


White, T. I. (1988). Right and wrong: A brief guide to understanding ethics. Englewood Cliffs. Prentice-Hall.

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Consideration on ethics in marketing research

Maintaining an ethical approach during research eventually pays back in increasing the level of reputation of researchers. The adherence to a code of conduct is important because consumers are more likely to contribute if they know that precise rules are in place and that they are protected, for example, from discrimination, intrusive violation of their privacy, deception and judgement. Furthermore, acting ethically can help researches reach wider categories of people, deal with minorities and avoid people to deliberately manipulate the research. To put in a nutshell, I think ethics gives research a certain credibility and professionalism.

Deception in research is in many cases unacceptable but, in a utilitarian view, can be acceptable whenever the outcome produces benefits that outweigh the damage to participants of being deceived (Kimmel et al., 2000). It may also produce positive effects for the research, but what are the negative effects on the participants and on the research both in the short and long term?

I can think for example that people may find hard to rely on researchers, creating a bad reputation for the whole sector. Or analysing the relationship client-researcher, if I was a client and knew that researchers don’t respect confidentiality passing data or analyses to other companies, maybe competitors, would I still trust companies that provide this service and the whole sector of market researchers?

I think is important to keep an ethical approach in order to gain and maintain a high level of reputation and because it is not possible to predict which consequences an unethical behaviour may have and when.


Kimmel, AJ, Smith, NC (2000) Deception in Marketing Research: Ethical, Methodological and Disciplinary Implications. London. London Business School. Online at [accessed 29 April 2012]

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Importance of marketing for other departments

If we accept that marketing has a communicator role between the company and the outside world and that it is focused on customers in order to give them what they want (Brassington and Pettitt, 2007), we can see how a systemic interaction with other department is fundamental to the attainment of the organisational goals.

In opinion of mine, the most important business functions which marketing can assist are:

– Finance/Management: marketing plans should include financial information for both new and existing products. In this sense, marketing can be a means supporting management when taking investment decisions. Marketing can also give inputs on sales forecasts under different marketing strategies scenario (Wind, 1981). Management can be supported by financial inputs provided by marketing but also to other data such as market actual (or expected) response to a product/service

– Production/operational department: marketing can assist these departments in estimating the number and the type of products and services to be produced/provided. Marketing strategies can also try to stimulate a certain response of markets in order to influence the demand of goods/services in terms of level and/or timing. This can be useful to match the production/operational constraints of the organisation

– R&D: marketing can assist R&D throughout from the idea of new product/services to its implementation. Marketing researches can provide inputs to understand what kind of products/services are likely to be the most marketable and/or understand what kind of features customers would like to have

– Sales: sales department cultivates relationships with clients and marketing can offer inputs to make it more profitable

I would also like to include, although somehow tied to the production/operational function, the purchasing function: try to regulate the demand through marketing actions can in fact affect the procurement function of an organisation as new material/products/resources can be required


Brassington, F. and Pettitt, S. (2007) Essentials of marketing. Second Edition. Harlow. Pearson Education Limited

Wind, Y. (1981) Marketing and the other business functions. Research in marketing, 5 (237-264). Online at [accessed 28 march 2012]

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Efficiency ratios

We discussed the importance of financial ratios along with their limitations for financial analysis purposes. After having described profitability ratios we can have an insight on efficiency ratios. This kind of ratios aims at measuring how successfully the resources of business are managed.

The most important ratios within this category are:

Average inventories turnover period

For many organisations, inventories are an essential part of their business and may account a substantial part of the assets held. This ratio measures the average time (in days, weeks or months) for which inventories are held:

AITP = (Average inventories held / Cost of sales) x 365 

Average inventories can be calculated as the average of opening and closing inventories for the period. In case of highly seasonal business, a monthly or weekly basis instead of a yearly one would be preferable.

A business normally prefers a short inventories turnover period.

Average settlement period for trade receivables

A business which sells on credit will be concerned about the amount of funds tied up in trade receivables and the will always try to keep this time at minimum. Speed of payments can deeply affect the organisation’s cash flow. This ratio measures how long on average credit customers take to pay the amounts due to the business.

ASPTR = (Average trade receivables / Credit sales revenue) x 365

A business would normally prefer a short average settlement period. On the other hand, this ratio is an average and could hinder the situation of clients whose payments are outstanding.

Average settlement period for trade payables

This ratio measures how long on average the business takes to pay those who provided goods/services on credit:

ASPTP = (Average trade payables / Credit purchases) x 365

Similarly to the previous ratio, we should consider that this is an average value and may hinder some outstanding situations. Trade payables are undoubtedly a form of finance for the business, therefore we might want it to be as higher as possible. On the other hand, we should manage it in order not to result in a loss of goodwill of suppliers.

Sales revenue to capital employed

This ratio measures how effectively the assets of the business are employed in the attempt of producing revenue.

SRCE = Sales revenue / Share capital + Reserves + Non-current liabilities

Generally, a higher SRCE is preferred to a lower one because a higher ratio suggests that assets are used efficiently in the process of profit creation. However a too high ratio may suggest that the company is overtrading on its assets and therefore there are insufficient assets to sustain the level of sales.

Sales revenue for employees

Sales are related to one input resource which is labour. This ratio can be considered a measure of productivity:

SRE = Sales revenue / Number of employees

A higher value for this ratio suggests that a good productivity level has been achieved.


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Profitability ratios

In a previous post we discussed the importance and limitation of financial ratios. In this post we will consider some of the most important ratios to measure the profitability of a business.

Return on ordinary shareholders funds

Comparison between the the amount of profit available to the owners with the owners’ average stake in the business during the same period. Normally expressed in percentage, we can calculate this ratio as follows:

ROSF = [Profit for the year (net profit) – preference dividends (if any) / Ordinary shares capital + Reserves] x 100
When calculating this ratio, the average of the figures for ordinary shareholders’s funds as at the beginning and at the end of the year should be used.

Broadly, the higher the value of this ratio is the better for the business, as long as profit is not achieved at the expenses of potential future returns.

Return on capital employed (ROCE)
Relationship between the operating profit generated during a period and the average long-term capital invested in the business:

ROCE = [Operating profit / (Share capital + Reserves + Non-current liabilities)] x 100

In this case the profit before any interest and taxation is considered. ROCE is a primary measure of profitability as it compares input (capital invested) to output (operating profit) of the business activity.

Operating profit margin

Relationship between the operating profit for the period and the sales revenue:

OPM = (Operating profit / Sales Revenue) x 100

Operating profit (before interests and tax deductions) is used because it is the result of the trading activity. This can be considerent the most relevant measure of profitability especially if used for comparison, because differences arising from the way in which the business is financed do not affect the measure.

Gross profit margin

Gross profit is related to the sales revenue. Measure the profitability in buying/producing and selling goods/services:

Gross profit margin = (Gross profit / Sales revenue) x 100

Changes in the cost of sales can significantly influence this ratio


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Financial Ratios

Financial ratios are an effective way to measure the financial health of a business and compare performance of different organisations. Even whereas a significant difference in the scale of businesses exists, ratios, which relate financial resources one to another, eliminates the issue of a straight and often misleading comparison. Eliminating differences on the scale of business is also helpful in case users need to compare the perfomance of an organisation overtime. Clearly, although ratios are relatively easy to calculate and are able to highlight weaknesses and strengths of a company, they represent only the starting point for further analysis.

The number and type of ratios that we can calculate vary according to users’ type and needs. Though a potentially infinite set of ratios can be calculate, a list of important ratios useful for decision-making purposes can be drawn. In particular, ratios can be grouped into four main categories:
Profitability: they express the profit made in relation with other financial aspect of the business

Efficiency: here the accent is on the resources used by the business activity

– Liquidity: a positive cash flow is vital for any business in order to survive and continue its operations. Liquidity ratios usually measure liquid resources in relation to the amounts due for payments in both short and long term

– Financial Gearing: relationship between equity and debt of the business. This kind of ratios measure the incidence of borrowings on the business

– Investment: assessing the returns and performance of shares and this is particular important for existing and potential shareholders

Analysis of ratios and financial performance in general must always consider who the users will be and why they need this information. Furthermore, ratios are relevant in comparison: without having targets or benchmark would be impossible to measure the performance of a business. The type of comparison possible are mainly the following:

– Past periods: evaluation of improvement or deterioration of the business activity over time. Comparing present ratios old ones helps to identify trends and highlights weaknesses/strengths to address. When using this methods, considerations on the trading conditions both present and past should be clearly outlined. Inflation is another factor which may hinder the relevance of the comparison

– Similar business: comparing organisation’s performance to performance of similar business in the same industry is one of the most relevant type of ratios comparison. Comparison should be made considering similar period of business activity. In this case, different accounting policies or an insufficient breakdown of activites are the most common limitations to this type of comparison

– Planned performance: comparison of ratios to target performance set out by management before the period of time under analysis. Targets must be based on realistic assumptions if we want them to be useful for comparison purposes.

It is worth remembering that the reliability of financial ratio is unavoidably dependent on the reliability of the financial statements from which they derive. Other elements of attention are, the influence of inflation, the snapshot nature of the statement of balance position and the difficulty to find relevant benchmarks for comparison

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Importance Of Leadership – Leadership Styles

Indeed the importance of leadership in guiding and leading people towards the path of success is great. This calls for a very effective leadership skills of an individual especially if he’s aspiring to rise through the corporate ladder. There are different good leadership skills that one must develop and hone in order to attain a high level of performance and high energy team in the workplace. Well there may be no one ultimate list that contains all the answers, but for those individuals who are focused on developing a workplace that bustles with energy and have a team that is committed and performs at peak levels, here are some pointers for you to consider.

If you want to be an exceptional leader, then you must be competent. You must have the knack to maximize your people’s full potential, bring out the best from your team members. Be an instrument for them to be able to come to the realization that what they do make a difference and is meaningful. Help them to remain focused on delivering great and positive outputs to the organization and the team.

There’s no room for destructive criticism, for it will not gain any positive result from these people or their full cooperation. Instead, be supportive to your team’s effort; that will get the best out of them. It is much better to make acknowledgements and praises when team members come up with good ideas and improvements. Taking the glory for yourself is childish and so mean and will kill anyone’s potential for future contribution and growth.

A good leader must know how to respect and keep confidences of his people. Probably this is the simplest good leadership skill and the one most often abused and overlook. You have to give your people the impression that you can be trusted and that you never gossip and that you are always supportive of the team members who are not present.

You have to develop the ability to inspire your staff, this is such a rare gift and a big part of what differentiates a good from a great leader. Keep in mind that your people are your most valuable asset and if you can inspire them to greater deeds even when the going gets tough, then you will be able to enhance your own reputation quite substantially.

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