How is your company ‘driven’?

I frequently hear people categorize their company as being “customer-driven” or “we’re a sales-driven company” or “we’re definitely a market-driven culture” or something like that. I’m always tempted to ask 2 questions; “so what does that really mean for how you operate?” and “how does that impact your approach in marketing?” The curious thing is that when you do ask these questions you frequently get wishy-washy answers. So, being analytical and curious, I did some checking a couple of years ago to find out what these categories of how companies perceive they are driven really mean and more importantly, what it means for how you approach marketing.

Every business has a company culture, usually established by the founder/owner/CEO/executive team or similar chief person(s). One of the many facets of company culture is this categorization of how the business is driven. What you usually find is the chief person’s professional career is the primary determinant of the culture. Yes, other factors such as their background, education, culture, personal beliefs, etc. do play a role too, but their career experience seems to have the most influence. Therefore, a chief person who came up through the sales organization will generally establish a ‘sales-driven’ culture while someone with mostly customer service or consulting career experience may establish a ‘customer-driven’ culture.

Seems to me there are 4 major types of company culture drivers:

  1. Competitor-driven
  2. Sales-driven
  3. Customer-driven
  4. Market-driven
Sure there are other drivers such as product, engineering, innovation, etc. but IMO they’re a subset of one of these majors. While none of these are necessarily wrong or bad, there are ramifications for the organization overall and associated limitations that may not be readily apparent in some of these.

Companies could evolve through different cultures as the business matures and evolves in the marketplace – for example, a company founded on a competitor-driven premise of providing cheaper alternative products, may move to sales-driven as their market share increases and eventually to market-driven with their own product innovations establishing market leadership.

My next 4 posts on this blog will explore each category in more detail and discuss the implications for marketing supporting each type.
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