Market analysis and mapping: creating a product strategy by learning the field and developing a plan

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By Ed Crowley So far in this product strategy series, we’ve discussed how a sustainable product strategy is critical to success,

By Ed Crowley

So far in this series on product strategy, we have discussed how a sustainable product strategy is essential to success, whether you are a multinational manufacturing company or a local printing company. We also discussed the 7 deadly sins of product strategy. In this article, we will discuss the first step in developing the product strategy: market analysis and roadmap.

Market analysis ?

Market analysis is the process of continuous and active monitoring of the external environment in order to identify customer needs, anticipate competitive actions and identify technological changes that will offer new market opportunities or disruption. of the market. Note the emphasis on the word active. It is not something that should be done passively or on an exceptional basis. Companies must constantly probe and explore the external environment to identify significant changes and explore competitive activity.

Companies must constantly probe and explore the external environment to identify significant changes and explore competitive activity.

So how do you scan the market? Continuously surveying customers and prospects require a massive marketing research budget? The short answer is no ‘. While market research should be an integral part of any strategy development effort, there are many methods of analyzing the market in addition to traditional large-scale surveys. Examples include:

  • Sales Force Intelligence: Your sales force is always “in the market”. They talk to customers and meet prospects. From this unique perspective, sales reps are able to learn about competitor activities, customer requirements, and other changes in the marketplace. The key is to structure an incentive that values ​​the seller’s time to enter this information. It is important to provide the seller with an easy method for reporting this information through an intranet site or by email. It is very easy to create a corporate intranet site to capture information and create a “contest” for salespeople. The person who gives the best competitive tip is rewarded with travel or money.

Structure an incentive that values ​​the seller’s time to capture information about a competitor’s activities.

  • Customer Feedback: Collecting customer feedback is one of the easiest, but most often overlooked, methods of capturing market information. Obviously, the first step is to understand how you are doing by capturing customer satisfaction feedback using response cards and online feedback forms. But why stop there? Client counseling training is a great way to understand how client needs are changing and to get clients’ perspective on ideas for new programs or products. This has the added benefit of increasing customer loyalty by reinforcing the value of their comments and opinions.
  • Buying Intelligence: Your buying or purchasing team can be a great source of competitive and market intelligence. Suppliers can be an invaluable source of competitive intelligence. Understanding when components or supplies are in high demand can often be a good sign that competitors are preparing for a major product launch, or provide insight into which products and / or services are selling well for competitors.

Client advice is a great way to gain insight into clients’ perspectives and their changing needs.

  • Market Research: I would be remiss if I did not mention the value and power of traditional research. From quantitative surveys to qualitative focus groups, there are many affordable methodologies for surveying the market to understand price trends, optimization of new product development, and other issues critical to defining product strategy.

Roadmaps

Once you’ve captured this information, what to do next? How can the information be used? Roadmaps are one of the key tools used in the development of product strategy. These roadmaps are simply a projection into the future of market developments.

The graph to the right shows a technology roadmap. Although roadmaps come in many different shapes and forms, they all contain a defined timeline and attributes that are meaningful for strategic assessment.

Typical roadmaps will cover the technology landscape, planned products, customer requirements, and even regulatory issues. The second graphic shows a sample product roadmap. In order to fully describe the external market, companies may have up to 20 or 30 roadmaps.

Roadmaps fulfill several key roles in the strategic planning process:

  1. They act as a shared repository of market knowledge.
  2. Developing the roadmap requires collaboration and agreement within the organization. This consensus process is almost as valuable as the roadmap itself. This saves time wasted arguing over whether a feature or product is needed. In the process of developing the road map, consensus has already been reached.
  3. It provides a method for quickly communicating critical issues affecting the strategy, and ultimately represents a method for communicating the product strategy itself across the organization.

Identifying the owner of the process is one of the important aspects of a successful product strategy process. By process owner I mean the person who will ensure the process is followed, document the process, and lead the autopsies to ensure the process is updated over time. Note that this process owner does not have the final say in decisions about what happens on the cards. Decisions about what goes into the cards are a shared decision, the process owner is responsible for ensuring that the cards are updated and the process is followed. This process owner could be a global marketing team, a product development team, or a corporate strategy group.

Identifying the owner of the process is one of the important aspects of a successful product strategy process.

Small organizations with limited staff may not have the resources to manage this process internally. However, a good marketing consultant should be able to fill this role for a reasonable price, or at least help the business start the process by developing the initial roadmaps. Once roadmaps are developed, the time and resources required for maintenance are dramatically reduced, allowing the small business to integrate this function internally. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a strategic process. To be successful, the process must be changed to meet the needs of your market, organization and resources.

We’ve just scratched the surface of market analysis and product roadmap creation in this article. However, I hope I have given you enough information to conceptualize the process and think about ways it could benefit your organization. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions and comments on this crucial topic.

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