Overtime, Marketing and more specifically, market orientation has been regarded as being a great influence to business performance and the actual sense of it for understanding Entrepreneural Marketing In Small Businesses
Given the importance of small business to the economy, there has been a much greater level of activity in relation to marketing in SMEs over the last 20 years in Nigeria.
Recognition of the significance of the interaction between entrepreneurship and marketing has given birth to the proposal of the concept of ‘entrepreneurial marketing’ (EM). While it may be assumed that Entrepreneurial Marketing is important for all organizations (large and small), there is a general recognition that the concept is particularly more relatable to the small business context.
In this context, Entrepreneurial Marketing, as a concept makes an explicit inference about the approach to marketing adopted by Small and Medium Enterprises, and also acknowledges the need to understand marketing in SMEs within the wider conceptual base and frameworks of small business and enterprise.
There is increasing interest in Entrepreneurial Marketing theory, and a well established recognition of its grounding in both marketing and entrepreneurship theory and practice. It must be stated that any engagement or consideration of the subject Entrepreneurial Marketing must embrace innovation, customer engagement and relationships. Accordingly, the concepts of Marketing Orientation, Customer Orientation and Entrepreneurial orientation should be identified and elucidated in clearer terms.
Market Orientation is generally recognized as having a positive effect on business performance.
Although this term has been provided with variety of meanings, there seems to be two perspectives attributed to it. While some adopt a behavioral perspective, using marketing intelligence rather than a customer focus as the central element, others see it from the basis of a cultural perspective by identifying three behavioral components which are customer orientation, competitor orientation and interfunctional coordination. Both models are rigorously tested for reliability in large firms research but opinion remains divided as to which is the more suitable.
Customer Orientation has its roots in early services marketing literature in which the importance of customer-focused employees was a tangible sign of quality for firm and its services. Since then, the concept of CO within firms has been investigated by a number of authors and researchers; indeed, some authors view Customer Orientation as the ‘pillar of marketing’.
Customer orientation is such that requires a sufficient understanding to create products or services of superior value.
Customer Orientation may be described as a culture that accentuates the creation of customer value as the overriding organizational goal. It can as well be argued that a company’s very survival will depend on moving closer to the customer, fully understanding the customer’s needs and wants, building a relationship and, therefore, developing an attitude of consistent customer dedication because a firm’s marketing advantage is precisely linked to the close relationships between the entrepreneur and the customers, in contrast to larger firms where it is much more difficult to embed entrepreneurship and a customer orientation into its organizational culture.
Small firms’ generally narrow and localized customer base creates a much shorter line of communication between the firm and its customers with entrepreneurs often knowing their customers personally. As a result of such a close interactive relationship, benefits arise such as higher customer loyalty and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Long-term relationships between the customer and entrepreneurs are often cemented by the small firm’s ability to react to customer needs quickly as they are more likely to be flexible in their ability to respond to customer inquiries.
Customer Orientation as a philosophy and a set of behavior directed towards determining and understanding the needs of the target customer and adapting the selling organization’s response helps to satisfy those needs better than the competition.
Customer Orientation also features in the services management in which companies that adopt a customer satisfaction perspective are considered more able to attain organizational goals with greater effectiveness than their competitors.
While the interface between marketing and entrepreneurship has generated debate, the Market Orientation idea has also led to a relationship between innovation.
Marketing Orientation and company performance, the practice of continuous innovation remains an ever-present element of all three identified components of a market orientation while many entrepreneurial activities, such as the identification of new opportunities, the application of innovative techniques, the conveyance of goods to the marketplace and the successful meeting of customer needs in the chosen market, are also elementary aspects of marketing theory.
A more in-depth approach to Entrepreneurial Marketing is that takes into account the characteristics of the entrepreneur, whereby marketing and entrepreneurship are seen to have three areas of interface: change focused; opportunistic in nature; and innovative in their approach to management. An entrepreneur in this regard may be described as ‘an innovator or developer who recognizes and seizes opportunities, converts those opportunities into workable/marketable ideas, adds value through time, effort, money or skills, assumes the risks of the competitive marketplace to implement these ideas and realizes the rewards from these efforts’.
Innovation should also be seen as a fundamental element of Entrepreneurial Marketing, proposing a theoretical model of the research field of Entrepreneurial Marketing that incorporates entrepreneurship, marketing and innovation as the core elements. There are limited Innovation Orientation measures to draw upon because of the strong focus on innovation as an output (patents and so on) rather than as a firm behavior.
In light of the foregoing, the Marketing Orientation, Customer Orientation and the innovative orientation scales have been identified as being central to the understanding of these orientations. On the basis of these scales, coupled with the characteristics of Entrepreneurial Marketing identified above, one can as well emphasize on the feasibility and the workability of the Entrepreneurial Marketing Orientation model.
The model shows 3 key orientations, and argues that any concept of Entrepreneurial Marketing that is an accurate reflection of the way in which successful small businesses market must embrace aspects of behaviors that have traditionally been researched in the entrepreneurship, innovation, and customer engagement and relationship fields. In other words, in small businesses it is impossible and not fruitful to seek to differentiate between marketing, innovation, entrepreneurship and customer engagement.
The evidence for this assertion is most powerfully evident in the overlaps between orientation scales in these different dimensions.
Having taken a contextualized view of marketing and by defining Customer Orientation by considering the appropriate literature of Marketing Orientation, Entrepreneurial Orientation and Innovative Orientation, the aim is to integrate discussions of Entrepreneurial Marketing activities in Small and Medium Enterprises into a wider conceptual base and frameworks of the field of small business and enterprise by proposing a new model for Entrepreneurial Marketing Orientation. Although this model needs further testing in a range of different contexts yet it has the potential to inform the development of both practice and theory in marketing for the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
The developing notion of Entrepreneurial Marketing has a number of themes emanating from it; central to this is the relationship between Marketing Orientation and Entrepreneurial orientation and how entrepreneurs undertake marketing.
In order to draw these strands together this article is intended to shed more light to the discussion of Entrepreneurial Marketing particularly in relation to the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises context. This enunciation, coupled with the evidence of the importance of networks and word-of-mouth recommendation, and creation of value for customers by way of innovation, suggests that Customer Orientation is one of the pivotal dimensions of Entrepreneurial Marketing.
This stance seeks to embrace the essential nature of Entrepreneurial Marketing based on what entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises do in the marketing arena. It may however be suggested that the themes of Marketing Orientation, Entrepreneurial Orientation, Innovative Orientation and Customer Orientations should be embraced and integrated within the developing paradigm of Entrepreneurial Marketing while acknowledging that these orientations operate and interact dynamically depending on the firm’s size, market sector and stage of development.
The exploration of the concept of Entrepreneurial Marketing has led to a wide-ranging agenda for further discussion on both Entrepreneurial Marketing and related issues such as the fact that;
- (a) Customer co-creation requires further investigation, including the exploration of the link between Customer Orientation and Innovative orientation and the extent to which customers are involved in the development and design of new products and services.
- (b) Further research could be undertaken within Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to enable a deeper understanding of the relationship between Marketing orientation and Customer Orientation.
- (c) Further discussions could be undertaken in Small and Medium scale Enterprises to investigate the relationship between the Innovative orientation and Entrepreneurial Orientation, and to ascertain the extent of alignment of the concepts.
- (d) Exploration is required to consider how marketing in Small and Medium scale Enterprises evolves as the business grows, and whether specific marketing competencies are increased.
- (e) Not all enterprises may benefit from a generalized Entrepreneurial Marketing approach. Exploration is needed to consider whether different approaches to Entrepreneurial Marketing are appropriate under different market conditions or in different sectors.