One of the most common goals I hear from would-be clients, is their desire to be more “market-driven.” As with most topics you can spend a lot of time and money to completely over-engineer this into a task so big and daunting that it becomes impossible to implement.
I’m sure there are complicated models you can use to prove to yourself, or your investors, that you’re successfully adopting some highly-tested principles. There are consultants who will charge you way more than I would — gotta pay for all that overthinking I guess.
I think a much more efficient approach is to find a few tricks that help good companies be great companies.
When you create good processes, your clients and customers will have good experiences, and in the end, your business will grow.
So let’s talk about a few of those things that can get you going in the right direction!
- Customer Service Team: Make your customer-facing employees into your best information gatherers. Whether you’re a small business with a single appointment setter or a large healthcare company with teams of dedicated customer representatives, these people interface with your customers every day. Your CSRs know what makes customers happy, and they for sure hear about what you do that drives them crazy. CSRs also know what they wish a product or service could do. Create a way for them to feed that information into the decision makers. In a small business that may just be getting the info back to you, in a larger, more complicated organization, it may require a process to synthesize and prioritize the feedback. Either way, this is FREE market research if you can harness it.
- Product Development: We love our products. We think they are great. We know their weaknesses. Or do we? Your product development pipeline likely includes a host of enhancements that you either can’t afford or don’t have time for. That’s the nature of product development. However, before you launch your next product enhancement, your development leaders should also be asking your marketing teams about competitive information. What are your competitors doing that you aren’t? That doesn’t mean you chase everything they do, but it may warrant some critical understanding of your longer term priorities.
- Finances. Everyone’s favorite topic: the money. Being a market-driven company, your finance leaders should understand the value, cost, COGS and markup on your products. One of my recent clients is currently running over budget on their print costs. Makes sense that their money guys and gals are all up in their potato chips about over-spending, right? The reality is they are over budget because the company has far exceeded their membership numbers. They’re sending more enrollment kits than they ever planned to, but that’s because they’re killing it on their enrollments. So while the budget is soaring, so is the income, and therefore the ROI should be strong. Your finance folks need to understand more than the budget’s bottom line.
- Sales. Your sales team is not automatically market savvy. It’s no secret that combining your sales and marketing is a recipe for disaster in my book. Generally, if you do it, you will end up with a “sales” and “sales support” team, not a marketing team. With that agreement under our virtual belts, hopefully, you’ll follow me when I say that that your sales team needs to intimately know your top competitor products. That’s a great first step. But how well versed are they on the consequence of doing nothing? Do your sales leads understand the industry well enough to know what the cost of saving the money your product costs? If not, they’re not fully market-driven — they should understand the market they’re operating in.
- Your marketing peeps. What do you mean all marketing people are not market-driven? No. They are not. Not even most marketing professionals are market-driven — because they don’t measure things. They likely have no idea if their activities are successful at influencing your target market or not. Marketing leaders must work cross-functionally to help their colleagues know better and perform better. Do they get to boss people around? Yes. I mean no. I’m kidding. Sorta. Marketing-driven doesn’t mean that marketing drives everything. It means that as market research and best practices become available it is shared, discussed and assessed.
Tell me some of your successes (or struggles) with being market-driven?