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Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar

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Introduction

Tilting Downstream

“So, what business are you in?” is a classic cocktail party question to which most of us have a quick and well-practiced answer. Over the years you, like me, have probably heard many responses to the question, but in my own experience, the most common invariably describe the product, or the production facilities: “I’m in the business of PVC window frames,” “I work for a company that makes risk management software,” or “We are a bank.” These concise, descriptive responses reveal more than we realize about how the manager sees his or her business and about its strategy.

Fifty years ago, in his seminal Harvard Business Review article “Marketing Myopia,” Ted Levitt demonstrated the perils of too narrow a response ...

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