Awhile back, we wrote an Industry White Paper titled “Market Technology: The Missing Link.” In its simplest form, Market Technology outlined a methodology, which advocated that a company’s market program (effectiveness) was, as critical as, the product and services that a company engineered.
Possibly, more important – especially for small-to-medium, sized companies that had to get it right out-of-the gate and did not have the margin for error that larger firms have. Market Programs can make or break a firm. This article discusses a process orientation to define/develop effective, Market Programs, which can impact several areas:
- Vertical Industry/New Market Development
- Product Launch Introductions/Roll-Outs
- Competitive Attack Campaigns
- Target Account and Opportunity Base Development
- Distribution Channel & Strategic Alliance Development/Stimulation
As we overview this process, it is necessary to insert a critical role in the organization – the Market Programs Designer. No matter what your firm calls this role, it is essential to have a defined “owner” and skilled individual on staff that can translate critical business insights into effective Market Programs. Without this, your organization will be driven by bold ideas that stumble along or go nowhere.
This is the primary reason that many CEOs are reluctant to put the power stick in the hands of Marketing and invest. If they have been let down by the lack of results in past efforts, it only makes it more difficult for the Marketing Team to have a voice. This may explain the reason that Marketing defaults to trade show coordination, product support, lead generation and collateral development, as their primary focus in many organizations.
Here is a summary of the process steps to feed/fuel effective, Market Programs development:
1. Research Phase (Doing the Homework) – this does not have to be a strict, empirical study. For each program, a range of outside sources should be tapped to obtain or reinforce the insights needed to develop a baseline program profile.
For example, if the focus is on New Product Introduction, then engaging with Industry Associations/Groups that cater to your target segment (niche) and key customers and prospects (and even some ringers – competitors’ customers that selected them over your firm) can be engaged to gain critical insights. Cover your bases – obtain pure, unsolicited responses on Market characteristics, buying attitudes, evaluation/selection criteria, price points, problem-set, perceived or derived benefits (from use), key applications, packaging considerations, economic factors, competitive influences (tactics, options, alternatives, etc.), timing, cost/return considerations (breakeven scenario), roll-out incentives, etc.
This can be garnered in thirty days or less and once you develop a knack, it can become a continuous process. Once the data is collected, have some of your “bright lights” interpret and translate the various inputs into a general Profile. Make sure that this step is not contaminated by individuals that will either incorrectly translate the data or influence it to be what they want it to be. That will only result in ineffective program definition, as we move through the process. Imagine implementing a Program where the timing or other factors were flawed or misjudged – it happens and it results in a bust program.
2. Program Profile – the profile is the baseline that will direct you to the make-up and elements that will fuel and shape the Market Program or campaign. The profile is a composite of the results of the research phase and the translations/interpretations that were made.
Example: Let’s say that your front-end, research indicated Middle Management (those with the problem to solve), within target accounts were ripe for change (given the capabilities of your new product launch), however Senior Management was uncertain or found it difficult to introduce change into the organization, at this stage. To ignore this input and launch a new product targeted at Middle Management (user community) and not factor-in sentiments of Senior Management and timing of launch – may be detrimental to program success.
Certainly, a necessary element of the program may be to conduct an educational webinar for Senior Management or to develop a series of Industry briefs that could bring them up to speed. Each element that was derived from the research phase must be sorted-out this way and then transferred to the Program Profile. When each element is outlined, it is then necessary to evaluate and select the overall, make-up of the campaign.