Michael Richter
International marketing and sales consultant
Hauptstrasse 27
DE-88422 Seekirch
International marketing and sales consultant

Tel: +49(0)7582-933371
E-Mail: michael.richter@marketing-und-vertrieb-international.de

Marketing interview (translation) - ... marketing is ...

- September 27th, 1999 - re-worked for the INTERNET

  • Mr. Richter, on your website you have a variety of statements concerning different marketing tasks as well as a lot of additional information - what is your true intention ?

Thanks for the question. Yes, you are right, I am asked this question from time to time and I am glad to clarify this.

You see: A producer - whatever his products are - has something to show and to explain and to 'touch'. I, however, as a practical marketing man can only try to explain to my clients and 'visitors' the experience gained during 30+ years of worldwide business. This I try with all the information given on countries, tasks, seminars/lectures held, and so on.

Of course I know that others do this with catch words, 'biting' arguments etc. but I do hope that a potential client places confidence in me this way and asks whatever he wants to check it out. In the end I want to reach a position of trust, whether I work as a trainer/ lecturer, coach or directly implementing the tasks as a free-lancer for the client enterprise. Only if we trust in each other we will be as frank as neccessary to be successful.

And finally: I am - so far - just one person, with a 100 % concentration on my clients and I risk my reputation - which so far is still good in a lot of countries worldwide. Additionally the clients gets early enough information regarding the practical experience which he can expect.

  • Who is your 'favourite' clientele ?

As stated in one of the articles on my website I think that my experience is best used by SME-companies - on a worldwide scale. I myself offer experience from a variety of management tasks - see also the reference-list - in small, medium-sized and big German industrial companies as well as from former consulting.

In general these are - for me - companies with a turnover of up-to abt. € 100 Million whereas I - depending on the tasks agreed - cooperate also with colleagues who have special experiences needed.

As I do perform quality work I have been certified as per ISO 9001 from 1994 - 1997. At that time I was one of the first consultants who were certified and I presumed that this would be of special interest to my clients. This didn't, however, turn out to be true. So I do still perform my tasks according to this system as I am convinced of it. But due to cost reasons I didn't keep it.

  • Why this special target group ?

Very often especially these companies do not possess of the necessary know-how to be successful in foreign countries.

As, however, principally every producing company has to internationalize its business, as the home markets - whether in Germany or abroad - regularly are not in a position to be sufficient for the rise in turnover or further development as needed resp. the picture showing the future needs there is only the chance to engage a specialist for the company (expensive, if relatively experienced) or to have the export business built-up with a relative small risk by an independent outside specialist (whether me or somebody else) and perform it yourself lateron.

By the way: Normally especially this target group has very good chances against bigger or foreign companies, as they are pretty flexible on one hand and on the other hand do have a lower cost level.

  • What do you regard as the most important fields of a business of your target group ?

Please do not misunderstand me I do not say this as I am a professional marketeer my self !!

But: Marketing finally is the deciding philosophy which handles the identification of the company with its markets and thus - by definition - is responsible for the relationship 'company:the world around' and has to construct this in such a way that the company has a good living.

That means marketing acts as a 'two-sided sword', on the one hand to realize what the markets expect from such a company (in order to buy from it) on the other hand from the company towards the markets e. g. with reference to the fulfillment of its wishes/expectations and to have those incorporated into R&D, sales, planning and implementation and so on.

In addition there are a few more tasks as e. g. to guarantee that the company is repre- sented at the national/international markets/market segments with the right sales partners, which can reach the suitable/requested clients or regarding the presentation of the products towards the target markets, the agreement on sales targets with the representatives, and much more.

In other words: Marketing works as a catalyst between all internal tasks towards the markets and also vice versa so that the internal departments possess of all the information needed.

  • Are there further problems which you would see right away ?

In fact SMEs do have quite some problems which, however, only can be realized having a deeper insight into the specific company.

My thesis 'Strategic marketing' names a few of the problems of SMEs in international marketing because the strategic approach is often missed. It is so that this can be a reason for the 'weak' performance, i. e. they just don't know it, although it is no myrical at all, but we have to learn and realize it in order to survive in this 'fast moving' world.

  • We started with your website, consequently: What would be your proposal for SMEs ?

Please allow that I repeat some figures from a market research published in 'CAPITAL' a well known and respected publication in Germany, 10/99, whereas different European countries had been taken into consideration:

  • 1. Per month the INTERNET in Germany grows by abt. 450.000 (as of 1999)
  • 2. The number of users will increase during the next 4 years from 22 million to 40 million.
  • 3. The presence of companies in Germany reaches today abt. 47 % but only 20 % use the INTERNET for sales activities
  • 4. Germany is situated quite nicely somewhere in the middle-field of INTERNET-use, between the active North and the more passive South, but worse than the average of Europe in total and - compared to other countries - the group of people between 30 and 64 years of age is less represented - and this is the important group of managers.

All of that means that - not looking to the USA at all - we are still 'beginners'.

And here again I see a pretty good chance for SMEs because if they get used to it 'now' they don't have major problems in the future. Bigger companies, unless from the IT-sector - have more problems and presumably are less flexible.

It may be of interest in this context that I received in 1998 abt. 35 % of my turnover - with increasing percentage !! - through the INTERNET - with clients which I partly met personally only after they had paid up to 80 % of the fees agreed. And this should not create a mojor problem for a company having to offer a 'product' instead of brain only.

  • Do you have a final 'hint' ?

Well, in fact I would see as most important that no one company is overexerted as the activities needed, i. e. changes, adaptation and re-orientation towards the permanently changing market should not result in a total collapse.

However, at a "0"-tariff - with regard to work and cost - the adaptation towards the future will not be available.

Entrepreneurs, leading personnel as well as co-workers should regard it, however, as a fantastic task to prepare oneself for the future and thus to avoid to become one of 'the rest' without future chances - and that means to start latest NOW !!

  • How and during which time that can/has to be done is to be seen very specifically for the single enterprise and has to be developed together
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