Levitt's classic paper, "Marketing Myopia" (Harvard Business Review), opens our eyes to the critical importance of knowing the business we're in, and who our customers are. His example of an incorrect approach is so often quoted that it's become part of the marketing lexicon like Kleenex became for tissues. He cites the railroad companies as failing to see that they were in the transportation business, not the railroad business, in the mid 20th century. Think about that for a few minutes. They made their living transporting people and products via rail. Did it not occur to them that other modes of transport could supplant or reduce their business's prosperity?
Levitt implores the reader to understand the business they are in, and who their customers are, what those customers want, and for us to think about how to find and satisfy those customers and make a positive impact to our bottom lines. This has become classic marketing wisdom - provide what the customer is asking for either more cheaply, with better quality and/or with better service. It's clear that marketing is pretty closely tied to strategy. Do what you do, do it uniquely to gain a competitive advantage, and do it in a way that customers will want to buy from you.
In The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christenesn raises a somewhat different approach. Perhaps one way to effectively engage your customer base is to create something that they didn't know they wanted or needed. An example might be Apple's products, such as the iPhone and iPad.
OK, we have a mission, a vision, core values, a product/service to provide, a pretty good idea of how we want to do business and gain competitive advantage, lots of potential customers/patients. How do we put this all together, make our organizations run properly to support our vision? More on that next time.