Going Global with the 3M Concept

By Professor Brian Wong  The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and multifaceted impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia. The pandemic forced many SMEs to innovate, adapt quickly, and go global. Some successfully diversified their product offerings, embraced …

Going Global with the 3M Concept

By Professor Brian Wong  

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and multifaceted impact on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia.

SWINSays 3M concept

The pandemic forced many SMEs to innovate, adapt quickly, and go global. Some successfully diversified their product offerings, embraced e-commerce, and found new ways to reach customers, locally and internationally. These innovations may have a lasting impact, making some businesses activate their market diversification plans and be more resilient in the long run. Going global and gaining the advantage of a reset situation requires a mindset shift, a business model revamp, and market repositioning.

This can be simplified as the 3 M concept: Mindset, Model, and Marketing. Mindset may not receive much attention in the business world as it is abstract and hard to plan, implement, and measure. However, the know-how to nurture and the implementation of an appropriate mindset enables a company to sail through difficult times better as it touches on the self-awareness and self-governance elements that deal particularly with egoism, growth, and oneness. 

Mindset Shift

Shifting one’s mindset is neither simple nor insurmountable; it hinges on the perspective chosen when interpreting situations. Egoism often acts as a blindfold, preventing the recognition of opportunities and innovation. To foster growth, individuals must cultivate self-awareness and exercise self-governance by critically assessing their perceptions, enabling them to grasp the broader context. For instance, the global pandemic accelerated digital transformations in businesses worldwide, including SMEs in Malaysia. Those resistant to departing from traditional models often struggle to maintain relevance in the evolving market landscape. Notably, digital tools not only extended local reach but also unveiled international prospects.

The pandemic fundamentally spurred the augmentation of online presence and global expansion. Nonetheless, it’s imperative to underscore that the effectiveness of digitalization relies on a well-defined purpose; aimless digitization can inflate operational expenses without yielding desired outcomes. Thus, business model redesign necessitates precise guidance and market repositioning demands meticulous alignment for success.

In addition to addressing egoism, cultivating a growth mindset is imperative. Society often encourages us to maintain positivity, but in challenging times, businesses require a targeted positive outlook. Acknowledging impending difficulties isn’t pessimism; it’s a proactive step towards channelling positivity with purpose. For example, numerous businesses, heavily reliant on local markets, endured substantial losses during lockdowns and reduced consumer spending. At such junctures, businesses face two options: closure or exploration of new markets.

The choice lies within the business owners’ mindset, whether they perceive the challenging market as a threat or an opportunity. Recognizing the pitfalls of a single market, certain SMEs diversified globally to mitigate risk, necessitating business model adaptations and strategic market repositioning. This diversification isn’t merely a pandemic reaction but a forward-thinking business strategy. 

Aligning with the “Oneness” Approach

To remain pertinent in the global market, businesses must embrace a targeted “oneness” approach by aligning with the targeted market, society, and stakeholders. Achieving this unity necessitates an indispensable review of the existing business model. During lockdowns, the market embraced technology-driven solutions, expanding product and service accessibility online.

Consumers now enjoy a wider array of choices and simplified price comparisons. As consumers adapted to pandemic constraints, spending habits evolved, causing some SMEs to suffer reduced demand while others thrived in the realm of e-commerce. Additionally, they have integrated into global supply chains, sourcing materials and components from various countries, further expanding their global reach. Rapid adaptation became crucial to align with evolving consumer preferences and maintain relevance. Business connections with society are pivotal in ensuring ongoing consumer relevance and engagement.

Marketing for the New Normal

A redefined business model holds little value without effective market implementation, underscoring the significance of the third “M”, marketing. Marketing has transitioned from a mere sales and promotion tool to a comprehensive business developer, efficiently integrating organizational resources.

Malaysian SMEs have been compelled to embrace advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented realities, and data analytics for competitive global standing. However, the successful deployment of these technologies necessitates seamless alignment with internal capabilities, empowering businesses to meet international standards and compete effectively on a global scale. 

A comprehensive marketing function demands a strategic purpose harmonizing with both the business and global market objectives, fostering a sense of unity with the global landscape. In today’s fiercely competitive new normal, distinct value propositions are paramount. Business uniqueness must be clearly defined and flawlessly executed.

It’s crucial to recognize that customers aren’t just purchasing products or services; they seek an experiential connection that fosters brand loyalty. Ultimately, to maintain competitiveness and robust market engagement, digital business transformation is now an imperative rather than an option. 

SMEs must grasp the duality of business and life, recognizing that resilience depends not only on external factors but also on inner fortitude. The 3M concept emphasizes the necessity of a positive growth mindset, business model innovation, and market repositioning. These changes enable SMEs to adapt to the prevailing digital business landscape, ensuring relevance and sustainability in the global market.