Theodore Levitt’s 1960 article “Marketing Myopia” is a business classic that earned its author the nickname “the father of modern marketing”. It is also a beautiful demonstration of the problem solving skills that are crucial in so many areas of life – in business and beyond.
The problem facing Levitt was the same problem that has confronted business after business for hundreds of years: how best to deal with slowing growth and eventual decline. Levitt studied many business empires – the railroads, for instance – that at a certain point simply shrivelled up and shrank to almost nothing. How, he asked, could businesses avoid such failures?
His approach and his solution comprise a concise demonstration of high-level problem solving at its best. Good problem solvers first identify what the problem is, then isolate the best methodology for solving it. And, as Levitt showed, a dose of creative thinking also helps. Levitt’s insight was that falling sales are all about marketing, and marketing is about knowing your real business. The railroads misunderstood their real market: they weren’t selling rail, they were selling transport. If they had understood that, they could have successfully taken advantage of new growth areas – truck haulage, for instance – rather than futilely scrabbling to sell rail to a saturated market.
Ways in to the text Who was Monique Diderich? What does Marketing Myopia say? Why does Marketing Myopia matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited
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