Agility and Focus – two key concepts for Portugal’s SMEs

Most of Portugal's SMEs don’t really have a marketing department. When they do, then tend to act as if they were a big company marketing department. They waste too much time planning and discussing a global plan for all the products they sell in every country they operate in. Instead they should think about their main competitive advantages: agility and focus.

In most SMEs it only takes 2 or 3 people to decide on which marketing tools to develop, which trade shows to attend or which competitors to attack. This ability to take decisions fast makes SMEs more agile than big companies. It allows them launch products faster or correct mistakes quicker than their multi-million-Euros competitors. This is one big advantage that SMEs should have in mind.

SMEs have limited resources (otherwise they would be big companies!). Therefore they should narrow their focus both product and marketwise. This will allow them to have greater influence over their customers and better chances of shape the market to their advantage.

Selling abroad - Big Chance or Bad Choice?

To my regular readers: Permit me to introduce

Those of you who live in a small country like me (I live in Portugal together with 10 million fellow countrymen and women) know how important it can be for SME's to sell their products abroad, particularly to other European countries. The question is: is selling abroad a Big Chance or a Bad Choice. As most consultants would say, it depends. It pays off if you know the competitive context, if you have some sort of competitive advantage and if you're flexible enough to tackle your competitors by offering a better product, a better service or a better solution to your customers' problems.

As Antonio Pires de Lima, CEO of the leading beer manufacturer in Portugal Unicer, recently said: "before you think about exporting to a foreign country you should try to be more competitive in your own country". I think Portuguese SME's should think about this before they put their time and money on trying to sell abroad. Because those two things only big companies can afford to waste!


We're establishing a new relationship with Portugal based João Plantier & Associados. João Plantier is a quite impressive marketer who recently established his own consultancy focusing on SME's in Portugal's cork and ceramics industries. João's prior experience working for Société des Lièges HPK, Amorim-Industrial,  and Corticeira Amorim Indústria, S.A, in France, Germany and his native Portugal, and in numerous marketing, product management and promotional positions, have provided him with a wealth of practical experience. João offers:

"I joined Corticeira Amorim Indústria, S.A as a product and marketing manager. I was responsible for product development and promotion of cork pin boards and tableware. It may not sound that interesting but I had lots of fun doing it. I learned how to work together with industrial managers and aggressive sales people and survive.  One year after I got promoted to Market Intelligence and Communication Manager, my goals being collecting and sharing valid information about competitors and developing marketing tools for the sales teams. It was a very demanding job but for sure my best professional experience so far. Dealing with sales people from 5 different countries (Portugal, France, Germany, United States and Japan), organizing trade shows in Portugal and abroad, creating marketing tools to support sales were some of my tasks. Working together with top and medium management and being able to actively take part in the company’s strategy planning and implementation were my two best achievements.   

We're finalizing the details of our relationship with João, but I wanted to announce the workshops and relationship now, so as to get a head start on 2007 planning calenders. More to come shortly...

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