Among today’s most quoted professors is Bishop William Lawrence University Professor Michael E. Porter at Harvard Business School. In some of his early work (heard in the 1980’s– I’m looking for a better reference), he identifies that there are only four marketing strategies that work:
- Market Leader — The most advantageous position. Lockheed Martin. Amazon. GE. P&G. Pepsico. The market leader is typically in the best position for Setting the Standard, in regard to revenue and margin, as well as business practice and ethics.
- Market Challenger — Avis. “We try harder.” Not quite as good as being #1, but there are plenty of options, and sufficient margins, as #2.
- Market Niche — Steel companies that specialize in rare grades of stainless steel. Targeting a specific geography, market or specialty where you have a specific strategic advantage. The Dodge Viper. Sensodyne Toothpaste.
- Market Harvest — Dairy farming. Buying capital equipment at estate auctions. Narrow margins. Being the last supplier on the market of an old product that you can charge a premium for. Land-line communications equipment.
Application to today’s marketplace:
- There are too many 8(a)’s in the federal market without a specific niche strategy in place.
- There are potential niche markets.
- If you are looking at any piece of business that is attractive, expect some heated competition.
- For federal work, a D.C. presence is required for issue escalation, which eventually ends up there.
- Of course, with the proper support in place, anything is possible.
“In the long run it is only to the man of morality that wealth comes… We, like the Psalmists, occasionally see the wicked prosper, but only occasionally. Godliness is in league with riches.” — Bishop William Lawrence (1850–1941)
1. Help me out here. Was this Porter, or possibly, was it Jim Collins, or someone else? I have made mistakes before– daily, it seems. If you and I are not willing to make mistakes once in a while, we will never get ahead. As Seth Godin says, “If I fail more than you do, I win.”