Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Marketing

Marketing Through a Traditional Lens

Marketing covers a broad spectrum of activities including branding, selecting a target market, product development, pricing, promotional strategy and distribution. A recognizable brand can add significant value to a firm. You can go almost anywhere in the world and people know the Coca Cola brand. According to statista.com, Apple’s brand was worth almost $235 billion in 2017. That number is not Apple’s market cap, it’s the value of their brand, an intangible asset. Ensuring the quality of the company’s products and services, creating effective advertising, and extending the geographic market are three ways to improve the value of a firm’s brand.  Read more

Operations and Outbound Logistics Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. We looked at Inbound Logistics as one of the primary activities in the value chain.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. After all, while our names might be on the legal documentation as “owners,” we realize that the business belongs to God and we are co-laborers with him in restoring creation throughout the marketplace.

In the second part of the series, we continue to examine the primary activities of the value chain, this time focusing on operations and outbound logistics.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Operations

Operations Through a Traditional Lens

In a manufacturing business, operations include the activities of making products, inventory management, work flow management, facilities, personnel and equipment management. In a software firm, operations involve developing software; in an accounting firm providing the accounting services for their clients, etc. In our little coffee shop example, the operations activities include making and selling coffee and associated products. Knowledge of the best processes and combinations of quality ingredients are vital. The right equipment and knowledge of how to use it is also essential.  Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

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Beyond God Bless You and Merry Christmas

by Mike Sharrow

I grew up in Alaska, in a melting pot of transient people and cultures (there are only 17 of us genuine Alaskans). I embarked on college then early career pursuits at a Fortune 50 company in Chicago where Christianity in the workplace was peculiar and I first wrestled with my own “sacred versus secular” frustrations. Then, in 2006, I moved to Texas and was surprised to find out that “everybody [practically] is Christian here!” At least, I heard a lot of Christianese and there was even a Christian business chamber of commerce.

What Does it Mean to Be a Faith Driven Entrepreneur?

Blown away by this apparent oasis of fellow sojourners in business and the Kingdom, I began to ask every entrepreneur I could “So, what does it mean that you’re a Christ-follower running your business?” With every answer my heart sank.

The top 5 answers I received representing scores of in person surveys:

1. I’m not afraid to say God Bless you or Merry Christmas!

2. We pay people fairly, treat people well and tell the truth (slow clap)

3. We do a good job and I give a fair bit of money away to a lot of good causes

4. Everybody knows I’m a member of Acme Really Christian Church and vote for the Bible believing political party (which I didn’t know that party existed)

5. Can’t you see the fish on my business card!?

I concluded too many people confuse being American or, in this case, Texan, with being citizens of the Kingdom of God operating as called and commission ambassadors stewarding business assets of our Father’s Holding Company for His purposes and His glory.  Read more