To Think or Not To Think …

Although it feels that our economy is back to normal and advancing at an expected, somewhat slow pace, certainty of the future growth is most probably misplaced. Given the global tensions and ever-speeding technological developments, our world the way we know it will most probably change not even 5 years from now … and coming changes may not be the familiar, evolutionary in nature, but more transformational and abrupt.

So if we assume that we, as a society, stand at a major fold that will transform our ways of life, can we risk assuming that businesses can go on making their products, offering their services and thinking about the future in the same way they did in their past?

How important then it is to peer into the future and create different scenarios of probable conditions (assumptions) that will lead to changes in your business strategy?

Here are a few examples from the past when businesses short-sightedly made a decision without considering possible scenarios:

We’re a serious business, thank you very much.  In 1876, William Orten was President of Western Union, which had a monopoly on the most advanced communications technology available, the telegraph. Orten was offered the patent on a new invention, the telephone, for $100,000 (worth about $2M in current dollars). He considered the whole idea ridiculous, and wrote directly to Alexander Graham Bell, saying, ”After careful consideration of your invention, while it is a very interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities… What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” Two years later, after the telephone began to take off, Orten realized the magnitude of his mistake, and spent years (unsuccessfully) challenging Bell’s patents.

Say cheese! The Eastman Kodak company developed the first digital camera in 1975, then proceeded to sit on it (and the core technology for the cell phone, as well).  They decided not to develop it because they were afraid it would cannibalize  their film business (at one point they had a 90% share of the US film market.)

[source: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time,, by Erica Andersen]

And here is a great article on why considering at least 4 different scenarios in business decision making is so important … The Use and Abuse of Scenarios

Packaging Choices Today

No matter what industry your company belongs to, as long as your product requires a package, you will always pay attention to the innovative packaging alternatives … and nowadays, there are many new, emerging technologies to consider before going to a well-accepted package, traditionally used in your industry.

By far, the most talked about trend in packaging is sustainability. Guess what people think immediately when they hear “environmentally unfriendly?”: plastic, over-packaged products, landfills overflowing with all types of throw-away packages, maybe “Great Pacific garbage patch …”

Packaging industry came back with all sorts of interesting solutions that will help address the uneasy feeling of general public about packaging. Here are a few snippets of what’s available to an out-of-the-box thinking packaging professional.

Plastic, but so much less of it!

Reduced use of plastic while providing robust protection for the product inside is this technology unique advantage.

less plastic material, sustainable package, light-weighted package
Light-weighted package

This light-weighted design allows for reduction in total package cost, mostly due to less raw materials used and lower shipping costs: this design, besides being light, is also stackable contributing to fuel saved and less waste thrown into the landfill. Take a look at this technology:

Consumable Packaging

Yes, it is possible if you are adventurous enough to have the package and eat it too. Talking about the minimalistic approach to packaging: a team of scientists figured out how to package food into a package that stays intact long enough to get through the distribution system, but dissolves when consumed by a human (or another animal). The packaging, created by researchers in France led by Dr. David Edwards, is called WikiCells. It’s designed to imitate how fruit and vegetables are ‘packaged’ in nature with a protective outer layer or skin you can eat.

Edible Packaging
Edible Packaging

‘The idea was to use the model of how nature wraps foods,’ said Dr. Edwards, a professor from Harvard. ‘It is a completely new way of packaging and eating.’ He has developed a range of yoghurt pots, juice cartons, water bottles and ice cream containers that mimic natural packaging by enclosing food and liquid in an edible membrane. Read more:

Think about the reduction of waste and savings on transportation costs! Unbelievable development! The only additional greenhouse effect will be what a body produces once the package gets processed through our digestive system. Caveat: convince your customer that it is perfectly safe!

Paper, not Plastic

For many centuries, humans used paper as a primary packaging material. I remember when being a child, my mother using newspaper to pack our lunches … or an old lady around the corner selling pumpkin seeds in a hand-made paper cone …

Eco Package
Eco Package

Well, as they say, “new is a well-forgotten old.” The paper is back!

Take a look at a variety of creative solutions that the packaging industry is putting forward, some of them can contain and protect not only dry, but also liquid products!

Reusable Packaging … and of course, there is nothing like putting that flip-top cap that you purchased years ago with one of the vitamin products on another bottle that does not have the dispensing convenience.

Reusable Package
Reusable Package

Different reuses of packages

Most of the rigid packages can survive several life cycles before losing its functionality. The resilient “use-your-own-water-bottle” movement that started in California is a great proof of our society’s ability to reduce the waste by reusing what we’ve got!

What is Go-To-Market Strategy?

If go-to-market (GTM) strategy sounds intimidating to you, you are not the only one in the business world who feels that way. GTM strategy is a concept perfected by big-name consulting firms with major resources devoted to outlining, explaining, researching, and developing its different models. As far as mid-market companies and smaller organizations are concerned, GTM strategy stayed in an intimidating realm of very sophisticated and resource-intensive projects with questionable success at the implementation stage.

The truth is GTM strategy is much simpler than imagined by many: it is a structure around activities conducted by certain participants (channels) connecting products and services to customers. In its simplest definition GTM strategy is an approach agreed upon the decision makers in a given company on WHAT they will sell, to WHOM and HOW (how the audience will be reached). Often in academia, it is defined by a simple triangle that looks something like this:

GTM Strategy triangle

To answer What, How and Who questions, it is reasonable to assume that research needs to be conducted to uncover the answers. However, the research does not necessary need to be complex or expensive. If I could summarize in 5 sentences the type of research questions a company should focus when defining its GTM strategy, it would read as follows:

• First, let’s define what is unique about us as a company that nobody else or a rare competitor can replicate. (as you may see, this will require a pretty deep understanding of our competences and our competition)

• Next, let’s understand what market segments and what type of companies within these segments benefit the most from this unique value proposition.

• As we start learning about our best target audience, let’s get very familiar with their path-to-purchase-decision process and specific needs that this audience has.

• As a follow-up on this, let’s be frank with ourselves, and compare whether our current products, services and distribution channels match the peculiarities of our target audience’s processes and needs. (here lies our chance for product/service improvements and new product development ideas!)

• And finally, combine all the learning from prior steps into a simple approach that makes sense to ALL: our target audience, all participants in marketing, selling, and developing-new-product processes, and all the rest of stakeholders who have keen interest in the company’s success!

One very important question (often ignored) that an executive team needs to answer before engaging into defining the strategy is who will be championing the project and the implementation of strategy once the visionary and research parts of the project are completed. It is important, because while solid, unbiased information is vital in making decisions on what you will offer to which market segments, with what type of message and through what kind of channels, the success of your strategy will always depend on who will be responsible for implementing it.

A dedicated team of champions, and ideally cross-functional team, takes the strategy, which is yet an unrealized possibility, and turns it into a systematic way of conducting business that brings victory every time, many times! Needless to say that early participation in the project by this cross-functional team is detrimental to its future success. So is a consistent support by the company’s executives.

Marketing, if available as a resource, can play a leading role in the development of GTM strategy. This business function is responsible and comfortable with stretching the boundaries, asking deeper questions, going beyond the norm. The boundaries of the GTM strategy run across functional lines inside an organization, but marketing is well positioned to lead its creation and implementation: marketing interaction with two other functions in a company makes it a perfect intermediary in this process. First, marketing interacts with product development via product marketing to convey market requirements, to test target market acceptance, and to manage entire product life-cycle. Besides product management, marketing also interacts with sales by providing content for communications and sales tools, building demand and generating lead pipeline.

Developing GTM strategy can be a culture-changing undertaking that will require commitment of the entire organization from senior executive team to the customer-service representative, but it does not have to be complex. To prove the new strategy successful it is important to focus on one or two core issues and not spread resources too thin. Once it is a success, adapting it as a way of doing business will be easy!

How to Beat the Market …

Top-performing companies actively build a culture that’s customer-focused, managed for the long-term, creative, confident, flexible, and fast-moving. While transforming marketing and sales capabilities to drive growth is not easy, many companies have difficulty simply knowing where to start. To learn more about what McKinsey&Company proposes as strategy when building your marketing and sales capabilities, please follow the link:

B2B World is changing … decision making journey

Interactive marketing and social media stepping on toes of traditional marketers in B2B sector. It is said that “by 2020, the digital universe is projected to grow from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.” As more information becomes easily available simultaneously to the purchasing decision makers, the number of influencers grow and decision making (and selling) becomes a much more complex process than is currently perceived by B2B sector. Here is a link to a great summary of what is ahead for B2B strategists, CEO’s and marketers: …

Check the article “Do You Really Understand How Your Business Customers Buy”


Welcome to my new site! This site is about providing practical advice about marketing strategy to small manufacturers and distributors who may not have resources or time to think about strategy and vision.

Just like a tree depends on its roots for healthy growth, business depends on understanding its core before it can reach its full potential.

I invite all of you to participate in this conversation, I invite you to grow with roots!

Anna @ roots … branch out!