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The entrepreneurial

marketing mix
Diane M. Martin
University of Portland, Portland, Oregon, USA
Abstract
Purpose – This paper identifies and examine a divergence of philosophies and practice between
corporate/traditional marketing (CTM) and entrepreneurial marketing (EM). The paper examines the
case of an entrepreneur who also possesses a deep understanding of CTM practices. The purpose of
this paper is to learn which set of marketing practices entrepreneurs are likely to privilege.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is an ethnographic investigation of a marketing
entrepreneur: one who possesses a deep understanding of CTM and who is also a successful
entrepreneur. Data collection and analysis included participant observation, multiple interviews, and
interpretation of textual and video data.
Findings – Entrepreneurs with CTM expertise privilege elements of EM. Rather than relying on the
traditional four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion), their marketing strategy and practice is
reminiscent of the entrepreneurial four P’s (purpose, practices, process, and people). Communication
competency is foundational to successful EM.
Practical implications – Entrepreneurs are encouraged to assess their personal situations and
identify ways to improve their organizational and interpersonal communication skills and personal
contact network processes.
Originality/value – This paper provides a provocative look at how CTM theory and practice are
superseded by the creativity, flexibility, and innovation of day-to-day entrepreneurship. The paper
validates a framework for analysis of marketing practices specific to entrepreneurs.
Keywords Entrepreneurialism, Marketing, Marketing mix, Communication
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Periodic examination of traditional assumptions of marketing theory allows scholars
to remain relevant to emerging trends in business. Scholars note that both marketing
theories and entrepreneurship theory privilege the notion of value creation, that is, the
notion that elements are combined in a manner that results in the provision of value to
the user (Morris et al., 2002). Others creatively combine foundational theories of both
disciplines into a body of research concerned with marketing in the context of small
and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and with business practices called the marketing/
entrepreneurship interface (Gilmore and Coviello, 1999; Hoy, 2008). Scholars
acknowledge important differences between large and small business ventures and
call for greater presence of entrepreneurial elements in marketing theory education
(Carson, 1993; Stokes, 2000). This paper challenges the “one size fits all” assumptions
of marketing theory to qualitatively identify and examine philosophical and practical
differences between corporate/traditional marketing (CTM) and entrepreneurial
marketing (EM).
Criticisms of traditional marketing theory and education include:
[. . .] an over-reliance on established rules of thumb, encouragement of formula-based
thinking, lack of accountability for marketing expenditures, an emphasis on the promotion
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1352-2752.htm
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Qualitative Market Research: An
International Journal
Vol. 12 No. 4, 2009
pp. 391-403
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
1352-2752
DOI 10.1108/13522750910993310
elements of the marketing mix, focus on superficial and transitory whims of customers, the
tendencies to imitate instead of innovate and serve existing markets instead of creating new
ones, a concentration on short-term, low-risk payoffs, and marketing as a silo with static and
reactive approaches (Morris et al., 2002, p. 2).
Even the American Marketing Association’s endorsed definition of marketing, ignores
issues central to entrepreneurship: innovation, risk-taking, and proactiveness (Morris
et al., 2002). These scholars and others have set about to remedy this apparent lack of
entrepreneurial focus in the marketing discipline. Hill and Wright (2000, p. 43) note that
a “paradigmatic shift would allow for the full expression of the entrepreneurial
personality in the management and marketing activities of the SME.” They argue that
marketing and entrepreneurship can be conjoined more completely, creating a new,
entrepreneurial paradigm of marketing.
It is generally accepted that most entrepreneurs are specialists in a field other than
marketing (Carson et al., 1995; Stokes, 2000; Zontanos and Anderson, 2004). In order to
examine the real potential of the marketing/entrepreneurship interface, this qualitative
study examines the work of an entrepreneur who is a marketing expert and enjoys
success as an entrepreneur in the competitive motor sport event management market.
First, a reviewof the literature examines marketing theory and practice by organizational
size and context, i.e. formal and traditional vs informal and entrepreneurial. Next, the
analysis uncovers the primacy of personal contact networks and interpersonal
communication for entrepreneurs in marketing enterprises. Finally, the paper concludes
with suggestions for theory and practice, training, and development.
Not business as usual: re-thinking the four Ps
Marketing scholars and practitioners have long depended on the same basic elements
for success. The elements of successful corporate marketing have traditionally boiled
down to the familiar four P’s: price, promotion, product, and placement (Kotler, 2001).
Companies typically organize these elements into proven patterns, marked by logical
step-by-step processes. The plans behind the patterns are both highly structured and
disciplined (Carson, 1993).
While it may seem appropriate to take the tradition of the four P’s as gospel, doing
so would blind one to important differences at the heart of entrepreneurial experience.
Gronroos (1994) argues that the usefulness of the four P’s as a general theory is highly
questionable. Others note that adherence to the four P’s misses the “fundamental point
of marketing – adaptability, flexibility and responsiveness” (McKenna, 1991, p. 13)
and is “both wasteful and inappropriate, and consequently is not seen to function
effectively” (Carson, 1993, p. 190). This is not to say that the conventional marketing
approach is not relevant to SMEs (Reynolds, 2002). However, SMEs face opportunities
and concerns that large corporations do not, and as such they may benefit from
marketing theory which considers the particularities of the SME context.
One way scholars have begun to address this need is by specifically investigating
marketing in entrepreneurial contexts. Hills et al. (2008) recently investigated the
evolution and development of this scholarship and found that indeed, marketing
among entrepreneurs deviates from mainstream marketing. Carson (1993, p. 12)
describes EM as the “experience, knowledge, communication abilities and judgment of
the owner-manager, key competencies on which marketing effectiveness depends,”
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while Zontanos and Anderson (2004) offer the four P’s: person, process, purpose, and
practices, as a better frame for understanding marketing in entrepreneurial firms.
Marketing: corporate/traditional vs entrepreneural, dimensions, and
differences
CTM theory is described in terms of three distinct dimensions:
(1) Culture (i.e. values and beliefs regarding the central importance of the customer
in guiding the organization).
(2) Strategy (i.e. achieving competitive advantage within a particular industry and
market context).
(3) Tactics (i.e. methods of resource leveraging, and variety of techniques for
managing risks; Kotler, 2001).
Examining these dimensions through an entrepreneurial context provides some
insights into philosophical differences.
Culture
CTM theory suggests determination of researched, established need amongst
customers first, then addressing that need. Entrepreneurial cultural (e.g. organizing
philosophy) is more often promoted by new product concepts than by researched,
established needs amongst customers. Entrepreneurs’ culture of innovativeness
suggests that they first develop an idea and then gauge customer reaction after the
development of new product. Morris et al. (2002) note that EM fosters a culture of
innovativeness, risk-taking, and pro-action throughout the firm, encourages a strategy
that seeks to exploit opportunities others have missed or ones that have not been
completely exploited, and includes tactics that are creative and develop a personal
approach to the identification and pursuit of opportunity.
Strategy
CTM strategy prescribes an organized process of segmentation, targeting, and
positioning. On the other hand:
[. . .] entrepreneurs use a bottom-up approach by serving the needs of a few customers and
then expanding the base gradually [. . .] [entrepreneurs use] trial and error in the marketplace,
being in contact with customers to learn their preferences, looking for customers with the
same profiles so they can expand their base (Stokes, 2000, p. 50).
Strategy for entrepreneurs is more fluid and innovative.
Tactics
For entrepreneurs, tactics for using the marketing mix diverge from the traditional
progression of product development, pricing, promotion, and distribution.
Entrepreneurs prefer direct interchanges and building personal relationships.
Likewise, the tactics behind entrepreneurs’ marketing intelligence is based on
personal observation and contact information, rather than formal research (Stokes,
2000). Decision making in larger organizations tends to adhere to variable time intervals:
Some are short-term issues and others are considered medium or long-term issues. EM
decisions are more immediate and fluid (Carson, 1993). Basic philosophical differences
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between CTM and EM are manifest in material differences in organizational culture,
strategy, and tactics.
The owner/manager, the entrepreneur
The traits, styles, competencies, and behaviors of the owner/manager are key
components of entrepreneurial organizing. Zontanos and Anderson (2004, p. 231) note
that: “what seems to distinguish ‘formal’ marketing from ‘entrepreneurial’ marketing is
the active role of the entrepreneur, and networks appear to be the link between the
phenomena.” Scholars generally accept that behaviors and competencies are primary
to a general theory of entrepreneurship (Carson et al., 1995; Stokes, 2000; Zontanos and
Anderson, 2004). Zontanos and Anderson (2004, p. 230) argue that “it is generally
accepted that the characteristics of the small firm influence [its] marketing practice.”
Merrilees and Frazer (2006) found that highly successful entrepreneurial franchisees
demonstrate “hidden” marketing success related to their confident personalities, drive,
and ambition.
Carson et al. (1995) describe the marriage of entrepreneurship and marketing in
terms of the experience, knowledge, communication abilities, and judgment of the
owner-manager. Overall, behaviors and competencies of entrepreneurs are key to
the success of the enterprise. While there are distinct foundational differences between
the job of the marketing manager and the job of the entrepreneur, the functions of
relationships and networks are somewhat similar for both.
Connecting with people: relationships and networks
The importance of relationships in marketing is foundational to entrepreneurial
practice and has more recently found favor in formal marketing theory (Chaston, 1997).
Practitioners in both CTM and EM practice boundary spanning activities foundational
to personal contact networks. Networking provides a crucial link between
entrepreneurial theory and relationship marketing (Zontanos and Anderson, 2004).
Hill and Wright (2000) note that personal contact networks play a crucial role in
characterizing a marketing orientation in a SME. Chaston (1997) developed a hybrid
model of four alternative marketing styles based on two important aspects influencing
marketing strategy: closeness to the customer (transactional vs relationship) and level
of entrepreneurial activity (conservative vs entrepreneurial). This resulted in four
general categories of marketing:
(1) Conservative-transactional. Standard goods/services at a competitive price, little
interest in building close relationships with suppliers.
(2) Conservative-relationship. Standard goods/services at a competitive price, but
willing to work with suppliers to optimize quality.
(3) Entrepreneurial-transactional. Innovative products/services without forming
close relationships with suppliers.
(4) Entrepreneurial-relationship. Participating in markets where customers work in
partnership with suppliers to develop innovative new products and services.
Chaston (1997) is reticent to privilege one alternative marketing style as the formula for
entrepreneurial success. This is understandable when one considers how formulaic
processes are generally anathema to the four key factors of successful entrepreneurship
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organization: creation, innovation, uniqueness and growth (Hills and LaForge, 1992).
More to the point is the primacy of relationships as indicative of one’s personal contact
network. According to Carson (1993), contact networks are a natural phenomenon, not
planned processes. However, there may be some difference in how they are used.
Marketing managers’ networks are consciously used, while entrepreneurs’ are
subconsciously used (Carson, 1993). There appears to be a distinction between the
way personal contact networks are used relative to the different roles and
responsibilities expected of marketing managers and entrepreneurs doing marketing.
Marketing entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are not typically marketing experts. As such, the vocabulary and
foundations of formal marketing theory are often unfamiliar to them (Stokes, 2000).
Dodge et al. (1994) argue that the most prevalent problem in small firms is a lack of
knowledge about the marketplace and planning. Indeed, most “owner-managers do not
define their own marketing mix in terms of product, pricing, place and promotion, but
appear to prefer interactive marketing” (Carson et al., 1995, p. 230). Small
entrepreneurial knowledge-based firms are characterized by entrepreneurs’ lack of
marketing development competencies coupled with their high technical and
professional skills (Capaldo et al., 2001). Although most entrepreneurs are unfamiliar
with formal marketing theory, they are often so personally embedded in the enterprise
that they can ill afford mismanagement of the personal contact network at the heart of
EM success. Entrepreneurs may not know the vocabulary and concepts but they are
keenly aware of the value of the results of good marketing.
Marketing scholars have identified the need to better understand strategic
relationships, alliances, and networks (Achrol and Kotler, 1999). Zontanos and
Anderson (2004, p. 231) note that “a small firm’s marketing advantage, in contrast to a
large firm, is precisely these close relationships between the entrepreneur and
customers.” Entrepreneurs must be excellent communicators; both effective at
conveying understanding and skilled at persuasion and influence. An entrepreneur
who specializes in marketing would seem to have his or her feet planted in both worlds.
Those who are both competent communicators, the cornerstone of personal contact
network success, and knowledgeable marketers, possessing a deep understanding of
CTM theory, are in a uniquely qualified to assess skills and resources from both CTM
and EM. This study examines the work of just such an entrepreneur.
Methodology
Interpretive theorists argue that social reality is negotiated and constructed through
sense-making processes (Anderson, 1987; Lindlof, 1995). Assumptions of accuracy are
not bound by a search for the “truth,” but rather by the display and analysis of an
internally consistent and coherent system of evidence (Putnam, 1983). Qualitative
analyses enable sensitivity to contextual dynamics (Barley, 1986) because they focus
primarily on explaining the characteristic forms and variations of the phenomena
under consideration (Lofland, 1971).
This study continues a tradition of research that establishes a logical link between
the development and testing of EM theory and qualitative research methods (Gibb,
1990; Hill and Wright, 2000). Gibb (1990) argued that large sample questionnaires are
misplaced in researching small firms and that more inductive reasoning based on
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grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) is a better method. Hill and Wright (2000)
also call for in-depth entrepreneurial research programs in the ethnographic tradition.
Finally, Cope (2005) demonstrates the value of phenomenological, in-depth,
unstructured interviews in entrepreneurial research.
Although not an ethnography in the strictest sense, this study benefited from my
prior experience as both an entrepreneur and a motorcyclist providing “prolonged
engagement” in the ethnographic tradition. My association with motor sports is very
loosely akin to what Corsaro (1980) described and strongly recommended as, “‘prior
ethnography’: becoming a participant observer in a situation for a lengthy period of
time before the study is actually undertaken” (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, p. 251).
From 1990 to 1998, I owned and operated a marketing consulting business. Since
then, my time away from day-to-day entrepreneurial activities and education in
research methods has provided me with “fresh eyes” for participating in and observing
a relatively familiar scene. My hiatus from entrepreneurship enabled an appropriate
distancing, an opportunity to problematize the familiar.
Sampling and data collection
One of the cornerstones of interpretive research is theoretical sampling, i.e. data
gathering that is driven by concepts derived from the evolving theory, going to places,
people, or events that will maximize opportunities to discover variations among
concepts (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). This investigation focuses on one organization in
which the entrepreneur is also a marketing expert.
Data were collected as part of a larger study occurring over more than 18 months of
intermittent engagement. This longitudinal method corresponds with Gilmore and
Coviello’s (1999) call for contextualized research methodologies at the marketing/
entrepreneurship interface. I conducted and video-tape recorded over 25 hours of
interviews. Field notes taken during observations were typed directly on a laptop
computer. Extended notes were added and typed up as soon as possible after each
observation, before the next observation, andusuallywithin24 hours. Initially, 50 pages of
field notes, meeting transcripts, and interviewtranscripts made up the corpus of the data.
Fieldwork consisted of observations and interviews at annual international
motorcycle competitions. I also analyzed artifacts (magazines, flyers, web sites, and
trade publications) and conducted in-depth interviews with the entrepreneur,
associates, customers, fans and suppliers. When appropriate a “critical incident” line
of questioning was used to elicit narratives from the entrepreneur about activities with
details of critical aspects (Curran et al., 1994). Multiple semi-structured interview
guides were designed to capture critical aspects of the dimensions of EM.
Entrepreneurial creations: the magazine and the mini-moto
The MiniMoto Supercross (SX) event and MiniMoto Magazine represent the
convergence of Tim Clark’s two passions in life: motorcycles and marketing.
Supported by his wife and his business partner, Tim successfully carved out a new
market segment in the competitive motor sport market. Tim’s business combines
magazine publishing and competition promotion and demonstrates the creativity,
innovation, uniqueness, and growth that are the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurial
enterprises (Hills and LaForge, 1992).
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Tim started riding motorcycles when he was just eight-years old and at the age of
15 had to “fake some papers” to show he was old enough to compete in off-road dirt
bike races near his California home. A run-in with a neighbor/art instructor who did
not appreciate young Tim’s noisy motorcycle on the neighborhood streets turned into
an opportunity to learn graphic design and uncovered an interest in marketing and
design. Tim later directed marketing projects for several multinational corporations.
Throughout his marketing career, Tim remained close to the motorcycle world. His
constant attention to innovations in design and after-market products led to the
identification of a new market segment: motocross competition for adults on mini-bikes
(MiniMoto SX). Tim explains how he got the idea for a new market segment:
I just watched and looked at everything. I watched how these companies were working very
hard to build products to build on to the Honda 50 and the KLX 110. Just looking in my daily
stuff. I spend a lot of time connecting myself to the industry. I watch the web a lot. I read the
magazines a lot. [. . .] I look and read and look and read and look and read. [. . .] A lot of
industry publications. We receive every industry publication. We look at everything that
comes in the door.
Tim kept a close eye on mini-bike after-market product innovations that allowed adults
to ride and compete on bikes originally designed for children. My interviews with
competitors at the second annual MiniMoto SX in Las Vegas in May 2005, revealed
several reasons for the success of MiniMoto competition. Adult riders find competing on
mini-bikes to be easier, safer, and more accessible than motocross racing on a full-size
motorcycle. Several riders moved to minis after getting hurt on their big bikes. If a rider
gets in trouble on the mini, he or she can just stand up and let the bike roll out on its own
rather than risk the danger of going down. The retro-fitted mini-bike provides adults a
chance to ride again, to be “new entrants” in a way that gives them confidence,
competence and pleasure. MiniMoto riders in the professional classifications even get
the chance to compete against top motocross racers, but doing so on mini-bikes.
Dimensions of culture, strategy, and tactics in entrepreneurship
MiniMoto SX was nurtured in a culture of creativity and innovation. True to Stoke’s
(2000) description of entrepreneurial culture, Tim first developed the magazine, then
the race, and then he looked for markets. Tim explains:
I decided we needed to have a race. What wins on Sunday sells on Monday. They had no
place to race; there was no organized event. Everything is about competition [. . .] the one little
part of the puzzle you’re missing [. . .] a buddy of mine was the editor of (another) magazine.
[. . .] he had been there for years, came to me asking for creativity. I said I got this idea about
the mini-bike market. I’ll create the magazine, I’ll do all the art, you print it for free and they
did that. It was inserted into his magazine called Motorcycle Product News. At the time it was
half of their magazine, I then took the same artwork and I sent it to my printer in California
and he printed me my own with the same artwork. He printed 10,000. Once it got in
Motorcycle Product News, it just exploded. Every dealer in the United States gets that and
there are about 10,000 dealers.
Strategy
MiniMoto Magazine started as an insert to an established motor sport publication. As
interest in both the mini market segment and the magazine grew, Tim responded to
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requests from both enthusiasts and after-market suppliers/advertisers. As he explains,
readers called for:
[. . .] more “how to” articles [. . .] [they said] can you give us more opinion of how things work
and operate? Can you give us more options on where to go and find products? What is so
great about our magazine right now is that it is so new, that people don’t even know who
makes tires for mini-bikes. And I’m going to the advertisers saying “hello, if you advertise,
people are going to find you.” That’s the marketing, it’s different than your ideas and
concepts, that’s how to manage a magazine. You know I really try and merge them.
The strategy works and customers know they are being heard. Tim claims that “our
customer base absolutely does what we [want them to] do because we give them
everything they ask for.” This bottom-up approach first serves the needs of a few
customers and privileges customer preferences (Stokes, 2000).
Tactics
The tactic of direct interchanges and building personal relationships (Stokes, 2000) is
the overarching tactic in the MiniMoto SX organization. Tim notes that he calls up
motocross superstar Jeremy McGrath and “says ‘Jeremy I’m having a race’ and he
shows up. He don’t go anywhere for under $10,000. And he shows up to our races
[for free]!” The opportunity to compete with one of the top pros in the world brings
other competitors to the track to test their mettle. Even if they never make it past the
heat races, they can, as one competitor exclaimed, “I tell the guys at home I raced
Jeremy McGrath!”
Privileging the four Ps of EM
Development of the culture, strategies, and tactics used to identify and develop a new
motorcycle market segment can be best understood using the framework of Zontanos
and Anderson’s (2004) four P’s of EM: practices, purpose, person, and process.
Practices
Decisions about which practices to follow were based on innovative thinking and
making good use of meager financial resources. The MiniMoto SX is strategically
designed to take advantage of a major event in the motor sport industry. By holding
the annual MiniMoto SX on the night before the Las Vegas SX, a major international
motocross event, Tim takes advantage of the audience of motor sport enthusiasts
already in town for the SX:
Supercross is Saturday night [. . .] and I got into the mini-bike thing and I no sooner got into
the minibike magazine and I thought, there’s nothing to sell. I need to create some sizzle, so
let’s create a race [. . .] so let’s do it the night before the biggest Supercross in the world [. . .]
cause there’s 40,000 people that are going to come to this [Supercross] race.
Purpose
MiniMoto Magazine grew out of need to provide a place for after-market innovators to
advertise to a highly targeted market. Through constant monitoring of the industry,
Tim connected the dots and:
[. . .] realized that the mini market had tremendous potential because it was made up of a
number of cottage industries, several dozen [. . .] I’ve always loved motorcycles, so I was
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looking at the industry and I saw there was all these mom and pop start-up shops and they
needed a place to advertise. [. . .] I’m a real graphics magazine guy. The biggest magazines for
off-road [motorcycle market] which minibikes would fall into are in my opinion [too expensive
for the after-market innovators]. So if you were a manufacturer that came up with a great idea
for a lever, or a swing arm or a grip, you couldn’t afford to advertise in any of those
publications because a Dirt Rider full page ad is eight or nine grand. My whole concept was to
give these guys an arena they could participate in and [. . .] we still have passion. [. . .] so I said
let’s make a magazine where a small guy could be a big fish. So we put the full page at $1500
now $1800, it’s the same magazine, you can buy full color more than black and white.
Person
A deep understanding of promotions and the role of public relations in launching a new
venture allowed Tim to leverage his personality and extend his limited resources.
Careful handling of the requests from the general motor sport media outlets allowed
MiniMoto SX to have a major impact in enthusiast and trade press:
We always cater to the media [. . .] We invite everybody in. We do a little safety talk [about
being on the racetrack and in the pits] because we think it’s important and let you [the media]
do your job. The biggest Supercross in the world was in Las Vegas the night after us, and in
every magazine in the world we have more pages about the MiniMoto than the Supercross. It
makes us feel like we accomplished what we were after. We really get more press than [. . .]
a billion dollar company.
Process
Tim’s understanding of CTM extends to his careful analysis of price point and the
process of developing a new market segment:
The genus of MiniMoto in Las Vegas [. . .] you know why it was so successful. It’s because
I realized that there were 42,000 people that went to Sam Boyd [arena and casino] on Saturday
night to watch Supercross, to watch Chad Reed, Ricky Carmicheal, Bubba Stewart and they
all show up on Thursday or Friday because they love to be there, they love to gamble, they
need something to do. So we created Friday night for the 42,000 people. The first year we did
it, 5000 people showed up. Then the buzz hit. Do you realize that next year we could double
the prices and we could still sell out? We’re not going to do that, we’re going to keep the prices
the same. It’s going to explode.
Working his talk: personal contact networks
Tim enthusiastically acknowledges the importance of his personal contact network in
the success of his enterprise. He seems to know everyone in the motocross world. If he
does not know someone, his partner, Eric Peronnard, does. Tim notes that “When we
come up with a name we don’t know, we’re in shock and we question that name.” The
network at the heart of MiniMoto SX and MiniMoto Magazine reflects more of what
Carson (1993) would call a natural phenomenon than a planned process. Counter to
Carson’s viewpoint, the use of networks here seems to be both consciously used and
subconsciously used. Tim purposefully approached his future partner Eric about
helping him with the US Open of SX, staged inside the MGM in Las Vegas. As Tim
tells the story:
It was really the first indoor, big style race and Eric created it and I called like on day two and
said Eric, you’ve got to know me. So Eric, you’ve never met me, but you’ve got to know me,
I’m the guy who’s going to help you make this thing work. [. . .] And I called up Eric and he
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said I should meet his partner and if you showed up to this meeting in Vegas maybe we can
do something with you. [. . .] so I showed up in Vegas. And after an 8 hour meeting I ran
everything. Eric made the calls but I took over everything.
This conscious decision to extend his impact and network in the motor sport industry
led to the partnership that gave rise to MiniMoto SX and MiniMoto Magazine. Gilmore
et al. (2001, p. 142) note that entrepreneurs develop networks “for useful personal
contacts [. . .] used to gather information about developing and adapting appropriate
marketing activities [. . .].” The MiniMoto SX race sold out in its third year. Vendors,
riders and racing fans enthusiastically refer to MiniMoto Magazine as their main
source for how-to tips, product reviews and industry news. A new market segment of
motor sports has been born.
Implications for practice and theory
This study examined the practices of a marketing entrepreneur; a man with deep
knowledge of and engagement in marketing and promotion services. With all the
experience and knowledge of CTM theory and practice at his fingertips, he proclaims
and exemplifies the effective leverage of personal contact networks and exceptional
communicative skills as the most salient aspect of his enterprises success. The MiniMoto
enterprise is just one of the “situations in which organizations are not practicing the
classic, traditional strategic approach posited within standard marketing texts”
(Chaston, 1997, p. 62). These results support the findings of a growing group of theorists
who privilege the role of personal contact networks in the marketing mix of successful
entrepreneurial enterprises (Hill and Wright, 2000; Morris et al., 2002; Zontanos and
Anderson, 2004). Zontanos and Anderson are quick to point out that entrepreneurs
exhibit relationship and EMwithout necessarily having a knowledge of the terminology
or formal construct. The study at hand examines the behaviors of one who has both the
training and experience of CTMbut privileges the philosophy and practices of EM. The
analysis shows a strong preference for relationship marketing described by Zontanos
and Anderson as the new four Ps at the heart of the EM paradigm over the traditional
four Ps that constitute traditional marketing theory.
In answering the question in the title of his article, “The need for a new paradigm for
small business marketing? – What is wrong with the old one?” Reynolds (2002) argued
that traditional marketing education is useful for enterepreneurs. The study at hand
indicates entreprenuers would be better advised to spend their time using and honing
communicaiton skills that help thembuild relationships. While the traditional four P’s (i.e.
product, price, promotion, and place) still lie at the heart of CTM theory, education, and
practice, entrepreneurs are advised to consider their communication competency in light
the new four Ps (i.e. person, process, purpose, and practices; Zontanos and Anderson,
2004). Each of these new four Ps is grounded in relationships and networks. Training
gearedtoimprove one or more of the newPs mayprove tobe more useful thanthe basics of
corporate marketing management and strategy found in traditional marketing education.
As Chaston (1997) argued, competency-based process model development can bridge the
gap between theory and practice for working entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are
encouraged to assess their own situations and identify ways to:
.
increase the reach of their personal contact networks; and
.
improve their communication skills.
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An undeniably important aspect of one’s personal contact network is the effectiveness of
interpersonal and organizational communication (Martin, 2004). Communication
competency is indicated by the extent to which one communicates and behaves so as to
enhance the self andsupport normative standards for appropriate behavior establishedby
the larger group (Sussman, 1997). Communication skills and social cognitive ability are
linked with managerial performance (Penley et al., 1991) and successful managers are
likely to also be highly competent communicators. Educational opportunities focused on
improving communication are often based on the foundations of persuasion, influence,
and negotiation theories, the foundation of communication competency.
Communication education is available from a number of formal and informal
resources. Entrepreneurs who are already naturally gifted at communication may find
short seminars and professional development courses useful for honing their skills.
Others may seek out community-based groups which offer multiple opportunities for
practicing public speaking and persuasion in a safe and supportive context
(e.g. Toastmasters). For those who want a deeper understanding of the foundation of
communication theory, colleges and universities offer courses in mediation, negotiation
and conflict, and organizational communication. Capaldo et al. (2001) suggest that
founders of small entrepreneurial-knowledge-based firms may experience profound
communication apprehension. For these entrepreneurs, individual coaching with
guided practice can improve one’s comfort and confidence, leading to overall success in
relationships at the heart of successful EM.
There are certainly limitations to the results offered here. First, these findings are
based on the analysis of observations of a successful entrepreneur who has a deep
understanding in CTM and therefore may be difficult to investigate in other
entrepreneurial contexts. However, the results here offer a new and compelling
competing framework for understanding marketing among entrepreneurs, regardless of
their training and experience in CTM. Second, the a priori typology of Zontanos and
Anderson’s (2004) entrepreneurial four Ps may have unduly constrained the opportunity
for competing typologies to emerge. Recalling the purpose of this paper was to identify
and examine philosophical and practical differences between CTMand EMand the real
potential of the marketing/entrepreneurship interface, framing the analysis in an
acceptable entrepreneurial typology was well advised. Finally, these findings suggest
future research is warranted. First, scholars should examine the extent to which other
entrepreneurial competencies and characteristics pertain to successful marketing
efforts. Future research should also examine how over time, entrepreneurship
metamorphoses into entrepreneurial management and in some cases, decline.
This analysis also offers implications for marketing theory. The results here
suggest that comparisons between CTM and EM theories can be examined along a
number of dimensions. First, the context of the business enterprise (i.e. entrepreneurial
or corporate) may suggest a preference for one set of theories and practices over
another. CTM theory appears to works best in the context where it was first developed:
with large, established organizations. EM theory and practice appears to be suited for
emerging, small organizations. Next, size and longevity of the enterprise should also be
examined as independent determinants of the usefulness of either formal or EM.
Lastly, a fifth “P,” for Passion, is important to our understanding of the daily
commitment one makes to his or her venture. Smilor (1997, p. 342) described
entrepreneurial passion as the “‘fire in the belly’ that makes the improbable possible.”
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Passion sustains entrepreneurs through the uncertainties of daily decisions, the thrill of
new innovations and the challenges and setbacks that line the road to success.
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About the author
Diane M. Martin is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Portland in Portland,
Oregon, USA. She earned her PhD from the University of Utah in 2001. Her research interests
include entrepreneurial marketing, the communicative constitution of communities and markets,
sustainable marketing practices, and gendered consumption. Diane M. Martin can be contacted
at: martind@up.edu
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