What business are you in? Classic advice from Theodore Levitt essays

Theodore Levit was born in Germany. He published his famous article Marketing Myopia in 1960. Still more than valid today in 2011.

What business’ are railroads in? In a railroad business? No. In a transportation business. It is very important to define your business correctly. Otherwise other will take your customer away. I guess because railroads do not understand that in full degree they are more often than not in trouble. And this claim is still valid no matter what new technologies or products/services arrive.

How to approach the definition of your business?

First realizing that company’s most precious asset is its relationship with its customers. “What matters is not whom you know but how you are known to them.”

Second: if you are lucky enough that your business is in expanding market you should be aware of absence of thinking on defining your business. In either case you should always think how to expand the market of your business. Seeing that as a problem is great because if “thinking is an intellectual response to a problem, then the absence of a problem leads to the absence of thinking. “. So, management must not think of it as merely providing products and/or services but as providing customer-creating value satisfaction.

Third. What does that mean for my specialized B2B design business? Specializing in integrated corporate report design is only one side of this business. Corporate reporting has some similar touch points as publishing in general. But it is also specific. It is consisted of:

  • Audit or compliance with any standards. Financial standards are well known. Others, such as Global Reporting Initiative are yet to be widely accepted.
  • Design including the redaction of the content. This is the part that my company is able to cover well, as classical publication and completely as an online presentation.
  • Publishing itself. Also very interesting point, especially because there is a growing interest not only in annual but also in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability reports.

So, service provider who will be able to cover all three aspects of reporting business will be the winner of the future. In my opinion.

Last but not least. If you are advertising agency. What business are you in? Advertising? No! As well presented in a cartoon by DDB, you are in de-commodification business.


What business are you in Classic advice from Theodore Levitt essays - advertising business illustration


Source: What Business Are You In?: Classic Advice from Theodore Levitt by Theodore Levitt 1 pages. Publication date: Oct 01, 2006

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