One of the reading assignments I still remember most from grad school is the 1991 HBR article by Regis McKenna, entitled Marketing is Everything. It remains for me a fascinating exploration of the intersections of technology and marketing, and actually foreshadows much of what we see happening in what we now call “Digital Marketing.” One of the things it does best is argue quite eloquently that marketing is about relationships; and it thus becomes the responsibility of every single person in the organization. The article touches on Supply Chain on the edges (and they are intriguing edges), but what it really does is leave us with a rallying cry that we in the Supply Chain community can run with.
When you dig into it just a bit, Supply Chain professionals do in fact already think like marketers. They segment their customers and their services. They have three of the “four P’s” down. Where a marketer thinks Product, Price and Place, a Supply Chain person thinks Product, Cost, and Distribution. But it’s that “fourth P” – Promotion” – that gets overlooked. In workshops I’ve run and discussions I’ve had on this topic, Supply Chain leaders admit to the importance of a communications strategy, but relatively few have one. We see pockets of them here and there. But given the number of internal and external relationships that Supply Chain owns, and the importance of those relationships, this feels like a missed opportunity.
Supply Chain Research Analysts are also, of course, not natural promoters. This is not hard to understand seeing how many of us are former practitioners. We plan, source, make and deliver our research. But we don’t always do a great job telling people what we do, and what we are up to.
In looking at all this, we feel there is a great opportunity here for dialogue – and therefore we have launched our Linked In Group, Gartner Supply Chain Excellence. We hope for this to become a two-way dialogue, where Gartner Supply Chain Analysts and Leadership Partners highlight and chronicle what we’re seeing; where we can talk about – and yes “promote” – our research. And where Supply Chain professionals, and those interested in Supply Chain strategies, processes, and technologies, can do the same. Maybe this means sharing some messaging you are rolling out. Or telling us where you are speaking and what you are talking about. Or featuring a blog post or a video highlighting the impact your Supply Chain is having.
Together we hope to exchange ideas, and build on existing relationships and forge new ones. We look forward to participating in this group with you, as both sides step a bit outside of our comfort zones to socialize Supply Chain Excellence in a new way.
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