Making the Right Marketing Calls

Consider what it takes today to get complete answers to these questions:

1. Are ALL the features required included in your offering?

2. Is their enough differentiation to shift the buyers?

3. Are customers willing to pay for “all that innovation”?

4. Is price the only differentiator?

With the sheer amount of market and competitive information available to potential customers via the internet, getting the answers to any one of the above questions wrong could mean no sales and no market share. So how can marketing professionals address the complexity and still make the right calls?

One of the highest impact actions is to simplify and organize the information flowing in and out of the department so it is clear and concise. Marketing can be overwhelmed with details, which are important at times, but can also bog down and clutter the intent of a product or service. Now more than ever, marketing departments have to focus on what matters the most to a successful offering. Consider this two step process:

Step One: Simplify and Organize

Start development processes with the notion that every market has a basis of competition. That is, completely understand what the minimal set of features are that are required so that your offering is the same as the existing products in the market. Weight their importance and do not discard any based on potential internal biases or opinions. This should be an as exact a match as possible. Have you ever had the experience of launching a new product or service and the customer comes back and says “your offering is great but you are missing this basic feature and I can’t use it until it is there”? That means the basis of competition was not completely understood.

If you are developing a product or service from the ground up, basis of competition will clarify the minimal effort required to be a market participant. This helps to decide whether to enter into the market (before the company invests a ton of engineering) and what the set of expectations should be to offer a complete product or service. Note that in the past marketing documents were generated (sometimes quite lengthy) that attempted the same goal. This worked well when products and services were more basic in their feature sets. However, two changes in business operations have made this method obsolete. First, no body has time to read and internalize them to the point where they are as knowledgeable as the author of the document (a potential source for miscommunication). Secondly, most products or services are becoming so complex that it is difficult to completely express the intent of every feature in words. Visualization of the basis of competition (charts and graphs) is the key to rapid and effective communication.

Step Two: Understand How Much You Need to Differentiate

The next step is to predict the rate of change of the market. That is, how many participants have entered recently, and what did they bring to the market as differentiators. The rate of introduction and the significance of the innovations can help predict how much extra you need to put into your offering to shift the buying patterns. Rate of change can also act as a throttle so that you don’t over innovate (and don’t get paid for all the extra innovation).

Once the basis of competition and rate of innovation in the market are established, charting methods can be used to communicate to other departments what the offering needs to be, how much it will cost to develop, and what the expected rate of return should be. More over, it will help clearly express how much innovation is really needed, potentially conserving engineering investments while ensuring you hit the mark.

What about price? Customers today assess value based on two basic observations:

1. What are the benefits of these new features for their application?
2. How much is it going to cost them to switch and use your product or service?

All too often today price is used as the great equalizer when the basis of competition is not well understood or not clearly communicated. A basis of competition approach will dramatically reduce the risks because complex market dynamics can be visually communicated. This helps everyone stay on the same development process pageFree Articles, resulting in more accurate “calls” with better value established and higher return on investments


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