As much as many of the companies I advise hate to admit, the market for their products and services is rapidly approaching maturity. The event is evidenced by many facts. First, the market is saturated with business providing the same services or products. They are facing competition locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Furthermore, competition is as intense between large firms and small ones; little launches are suffering as much as big corporations. The strongest evidence is that figures are not growing, sales are either decreasing or in the best scenario they are remaining on the same level.
So many competitors in the market are making it difficult for many companies to increase transactions. In most cases, businesses are pushed out the growing phase and are being sent to maturity prematurely. Sometimes executives and owners do not realize that they are already in the adulthood phase of their corporations and those are not good news. They do not understand that there is no forever young premise, which means: there is no way to continue growing if variables are kept as usual.
There is a business life curve in which maturity phase is found at the point of inflexion. It can be faced as a threat because it is a stage in which figures have gotten to the top and what comes next are decreasing numbers. As the product or the service mature, the market soars and opportunities fly away because clients are going elsewhere or because there is not a possibility to get new clients because they are already ours. One of the biggest dangers in this phase is not recognizing it. The real endangerment is to believe that numbers will regrow, that better profit is to be accomplished by performing the same practices.
Owners, executives, managers have to acknowledge that differentiation is the key word in the maturity phase. Making our clients notice our distinctive note is the biggest challenge in a market filled with publicity, advertising, and transmedia. Today diversity is very important for winning the customer´s preference. Acquiring their attention is the main issue. Noticeability is even more important than cost management or sales administration. Especially if they want a refresh for their activities in order to regain pace.
And yes, for that matter, maturity turns out to be an advantage. Refreshing is possible and in that field experience is a good asset. While competition may be delivering a cheaper service, expertise may give the company the opportunity to sell at a better price or with better conditions. Clients seek for qualified firms that are able to provide the product or the service that they are promised to receive and that is called trust. A mature company is able to exploit her reputation in order to tell the customer they are in good hands. An experienced company may be able to detect the customer´s need more easily.
In the maturity phase, reputation may be used as a competitive advantage. Managers cannot afford to ignore its meaningful benefits. If you think about it, a good name is a kind of irreversible, market-specific investment. It has been shown to increase the operating reliability, the success rate of product introductions, and the marketability of high-tech products or services. It has been proved that clients believe that if a company did it well once, it will be able to do it well twice and many other times. That is worth money.
Yet, maturity can be a threat if managers are not humble enough as to be aware of what is happening around them. They tend to believe that the product will do the magic by itself and that is a big fat lie. Yes, it is true that know how is a superior asset, but the complexity of the markets and the saturation of information may prove that if figures are not growing with the way we are doing things, time to change has come.
Change is scary, but sending the market the same input will not pop up profitability. On the other hand, mature companies have experience. They know the way because they have already run the road. They are acquainted with the way for attaining economies of scale, applying new technology, for developing new products or service through research and development, and they should discern how to establish expertise in a particular area.
Any good manager knows this big truth: markets are finite. If a business can commit to a never ending growth, it is because it is willing to change and modify itself from time to time. The first time is the hardest one, but there is some good news: it was harder when they went out to the market for the first time.
It is the company’s choice and its board of management to decide whether maturity is an advantage or a threat. In either case, the focus would be right. If they choose to see it as a threat, there is a great deal of work to be done; it will be like undertaking a plastic surgery to make the company look younger. If they choose to see it as an advantage, there are a lot of valuable assets to be taken benefit from. One is a tortuous path, the other one may be a better winning move.