Series: Strategy at Merus – Having & maintaining success

16. Juni 2020

Since 1996 Merus has been successful as a small company for water treatment. The first intended target group were private households in Germany. The good results have led to the distribution of our sustainable solution for clean pipes also in industrial applications and across national borders. More and more new areas of application were added in which the Merus Ring can be used.

Small companies - targeted use of strengths

Newly founded companies have a 40% probability of failing in the first year. For the remaining companies, the failure rates for the first ten years are around 90% (Siegfried, 2015). This makes companies that manage to be successful in the long term even more interesting. For this reason, the first step of my master thesis at Merus was to examine the past. I wanted to find out what makes Merus successful in the long term and therefore so special.
A key sentence from my literature research on the topic is "A small company is not just a big company in mini-format! (Haag & Rossmann, 2015, p. 171). In other words: it is not very likely to be successful to simply apply the management approaches of large companies to a small company. Small companies have two decisive advantages over large companies:
1. short decision-making processes and decisions that are made with full expertise. I already touched on this point briefly in the last article. Where an employee combines several areas of responsibility, a lot of knowledge and information is also combined in one place. This applies to managing directors just as much as it does to employees from the various departments (sales & after-sales, marketing & customer communication, logistics & shipping, etc.). Every decision is therefore made fast and usually with many years of knowledge of all related processes.
2. flat hierarchies and short communication channels result from this and form a second decisive strength: flexibility. A small company is not only able to react quickly. It also has many more opportunities to develop further, to change its course.

Both strengths can only be used if the company is aware of them and is able to make the most of them.

Merus through the ages

Over the years, Merus has succeeded in constantly changing on various fronts and adapting to current requirements. First of all, the product is constantly being further developed. The aim is to increase the general effect and resistance to negative influences. In addition, Merus' field of activity has constantly expanded both spatially and in terms of industries and areas of application. Water problems in agriculture, building management and in production processes are now just as much a part of our applications as problems with other liquids and oil.

Of course, I was particularly interested in researching how Merus has shaped its external communication in recent years. For sales and advertising, the initial focus was classically on trade fair visits. Even then, however, Merus was already a pioneer in terms of marketing. A Merus homepage and ads via Google have been around since the early days. The design of the numerous flyers, packaging, brochures and the website was always adapted to the current taste at that time.
The goal of Merus' marketing has always been to lead potential customers to the offer. This gives us the opportunity to convince them of our solution through product tests. It means that we go where the problems arise. We are not interested in imposing ourselves or in selling our product where there is no demand.
To do this, it was and is necessary to constantly adapt our approach and strategy to current needs. This also includes trying out communication channels, failing to do so, learning from them and continuing differently. This constant movement and change in all three areas mentioned above has contributed significantly to Merus' success over the years.

What a plan, a strategy for the company can do and how it can be developed, I describe in the next article.

 

Literature

Haag, Patrick; Roßmann, Patrick (Hg.) (2015): Management kleiner und mittlerer Unternehmen. Strategische Aspekte, operative Umsetzung und Best Practice. Berlin u.a.: De Gruyter Oldenbourg.
Siegfried, Patrick (2015): Strategische Unternehmensplanung in jungen KMU. Problemfelder und Lösungsansätze. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg

Tags: Marketing SmallButNice ThesisWithMerus

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