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value chain marketing and the concept of light and shadow

by Kenneth Rudich

As someone who has worked for more than two decades in a media production environment, I’ve developed a deep respect for the important role lighting can play.

Along the way I’ve learned that the real trick to effective lighting often lies not in the lighting itself, but in controlling the shadows produced by the lighting.  When smartly blended, it is this combination of light and shadow that creates the desired visual effect.

So though it may seem counterintuitive, the reality is this: when you’re working with lighting, you’re really working with shadows.

The above video shot at an outdoor event in the Ukraine vividly illustrates how various illusions can be created by using the concept of light and shadow.

enter value chain marketing

I wanted to mention the concept of light and shadow in part because I thought the above video, which is amazingly artistic, was worthy of being shared.  At the same time, I was tempted to bring it up because I’m also convinced the concept of light and shadow has a more universal application when you think about it in the abstract.

I believe the manipulation of light and shadow can be viewed as a metaphor for almost everything we do in life, including value chain marketing.  That is to say, how well you manage what exists in the shadows can be just as important as how well you manage what exists in the light.

light and shadow value fulfillment 

Many value chain activities and processes hide in the shadows, unseen by customers until or unless something goes wrong and thereby invites unwanted attention.  It could be an error in a transaction process that should otherwise be seamless; a glitch in a distribution channel that should be logistically sound; a support service function that underwhelms and does a disservice; or any other kind of foul up that can impair the customer experience on the way to creating value fulfillment.

If it generates a complaint, it probably was something that got mistakenly moved from the shadows and into the light.

other light and shadow considerations

But the concept of light and shadow extends well beyond that.  Shadowy areas abound in any business enterprise, and they can make it or break it in so many ways. 

Innovations, inventions and strategies for competitive advantage often live in the shadows until someone brings them to light.  Turning a weakness into a strength, navigating threats or seizing opportunities, even planning and preparation, frequently rely on the capacity to find something that is lurking in a shadowy place.

It often takes an uncanny ability to consistently see what others don’t see.  The market opportunity scan can be a powerful tool for helping this process, for illuminating those things that might otherwise remain concealed in the dark.

Redbox chiseled its way into the competitive movie rental industry by using the market opportunity scan to uncover a strategy that apparently stayed hidden from Netflix, Blockbuster and others.  Apple consistently rolls out new products that light up consumers’ eyes with delight.  In fact, you need not look far to find numerous examples of this very thing happening again and again.

Call it vision, or thinking outside the box, or whatever you prefer, the one thing these successes and others like them all have in common is that something had to be found in the shadows and brought into the light.

the generic value chain

To complete our metaphor, watch the video above and think of the building as a generic value chain that is waiting for you to apply light and shadow to achieve the effect you desire for marketing your business.

And that is how you can embrace the concept of light and shadow as it pertains to value chain marketing.


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