B2B Marketer: Are You a Hedgehog or a Fox?

by Jennifer Beever

B2B Marketer Hedgehog or FoxIn business there are hedgehogs and there are foxes. I believe the concept applies to marketers, too.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collions wrote that great companies acted more like hedgehogs – simple, dowdy creatures that know one thing and stick to it. The comparison companies in the Good to Great study were more like foxes, wrote Collins, craft, cunning, fast and everchanging. The foxes knew many things but lacked consistency.

Great companies followed “The Hedgehog Concept.” They knew what they were good at and stuck to it. They saw through complexity and found unifying patterns. They simplified. So, too, do great marketers.

Great marketers plan their marketing in advance. They analyze past performance and cut under-performing tactics. They don’t jump onto the latest marketing bandwagon until they have a clear understanding of how it will or won’t support their primary business goals.

What do you think? Can you accept the image of the dowdy hedgehog marketer? Or will you go with crafty-like-a-fox?


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Can Social Media Move You from Good to Great? — NewIncite
April 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm

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Lydia Sugarman October 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

In the case of marketing, I think hedgehogs are condemned to fail. A lot has changed since Jim Collins wrote “Good to Great.” While his comparison was more about “the business” of a company and not its marketing, it is definitely not an apt analogy for marketing anymore, if ever.

Formerly, outlets for reaching an audience were limited to radio, TV, print, billboards, Yellow Pages, word of mouth ( Really, literally, word of mouth!). For those that could afford it, product placement was another option. Enter the big, wild world of online and the playing field was leveled to a great extent. Any company, regardless of size, could establish a presence and their brand with minimal financial investment. But, it’s a moving target with new technologies constantly changing the rules and adding options.

To some extent I can agree with your take on what, in part, is necessary to be a great marketer. But, just like the lamb and the lion, I think the hedgehog and the fox have to find a middle ground and be far more agile in their strategy than in the old days of twenty years ago.

We’re working to help facilitate that with our complete platform.

Lydia Sugarman, CEO

The Internet is kind of like the ultimate capitalist democracy where everyone has the opportunity to succeed…or, fail. And, if a company relies on doing the same ol’, same ol’, they will quickly be subsumed by brash newcomers the leverage online marketing tools more effective.y.

Jennifer Beever October 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Lydia, great comments. I think you are saying any hedgehog had better hustle and be willing to adopt new things faster than in the business environment in which Jim Collins wrote Good to Great.

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