Peter Drucker’s most famous quote is arguably, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
At its core, marketing and innovation are value creation.
Creating a Customer is Selling
Drucker used the word marketing where I would have used sales, but then, we’re not squeamish about who we are and what we do here, are we?
Marketing (and selling) is about sharing your ability to create value with the people that might benefit from what you do. One of the most difficult and expensive challenges for any business is sharing their message, sharing how they create value (although for some us, the new digital tools make it easier, cheaper, and more effective than at any time in history). It is about creating a customer. It’s about client acquisition. You only create the customer by creating value for them. This is where the game is won or lost.
Innovation is Creating New and Greater Value
Innovation is leaping from one level of value to creation to an even higher level. You’re marketing (and selling) the value that you create now, but as you’re doing so, you’re discovering new problems, new challenges, and new opportunities to create even more value in the future. Once you discover ways to create even greater value, you start marketing it. It’s a virtuous circle spinning ever upwards and fueling your growth.
In This Disruptive Age
The last thing you want to do in this disruptive age is to become complacent. You can’t ever stop marketing and acquiring new clients. You can’t ever stop innovating and discovering new ways to create value for your clients (if you want to keep them anyway). The path to growth always runs through greater efforts to sell (or market, if you must). The path to sustained growth is through innovating and developing more compelling value.
Mastering marketing and innovation is the only true sustainable competitive advantage.
How much of your time is really spent selling or marketing?
How much of your time is spent innovating?
Do you discover new ideas about how to market or innovate?
How do you capture feedback and turn it into new, value-creating offerings that you can market and sell?