Monthly Archives: July 2016

Sales training, not just for sales teams anymore. SMstudy is for everyone.

Efficiency.png

 

As companies continue the eternal pursuit of streamlining, a little bit of universal sales training can yield major benefits. Basic understanding of the aspects of the sales process is a benefit for all members of a company regardless of position or department.

Some very real advances in efficiency can be achieved when everyone speaks the same language.

Ever feel important communications get lost in translation from one branch of a company to the other? Since sales is usually a crucial element of any company, it benefits everyone to have an understanding of sales processes and its terminology.  When everyone speaks the same language, everything goes more smoothly.

According to Will Brooks, executive vice president and director of marketing at The Brooks Group, “Communication is enhanced once everyone is fluent in the selling process, when the dialogue around specific accounts and stages in the buyer’s journey becomes more efficient—both within the sales team and across departments. Congruent terminology and standard definitions of each stage in the buying process reduces miscommunication and unifies the sales and marketing departments.”

Continuity of Message = Efficiency

Another important benefit of universal sales training; the continuity of company communication, both internally and externally. A consistent informed message that permeates a company will make a stronger clearer message to potential customers. As customers are brought in to the sales cycle, they will continue to receive a consistent message that in turn leads to a seamless customer experience.

Brooks notes, “Customer service can better understand the customer’s needs once they have received sales training, and when marketing understands the sales process, they can provide tools and resources that are aligned with how sales is selling. The promises sales makes to customers should mirror the messages that marketing sends out, and alignment between these departments ensures that’s always happening.”

SMstudy works very well for any company considering a company-wide sales training program. It’s convenient and offers flexible training opportunities that work within the timeframe of a staff members’ busy schedule. The SMstudy Guide® and all its resources, including training videos, study guides, test questions and more, is ideally positioned to provide a positive sales training experience for everyone.

Find more interesting information on sales and marketing at smstudy.com

Sources:

How Sales Training Can Benefit More Than the Sales Team, Will Brooks. Sept. 21, 2015. https://www.trainingindustry.com/blog/blog-entries/how-sales-training-can-benefit-more-than-the-sales-team.aspx

 

 

Advertisements

Customer Business Outcome Evaluation

Strategy-(2).jpg

 

Evaluation of business outcomes is not easy. For a corporate customer, products are purchased to deliver positive business outcomes. So it is very important for the selling company to come up with a product that significantly and quantifiably brings positive business outcomes for its customer or their business. It is therefore necessary to identify quantifiable, positive business outcomes that the product can provide, to develop the sales value proposition.

A quantifiable outcome represents the tangible value of the offering to the customer. This value is typically expressed in numbers, percentages, and timeframes. In addition to this, there are also intangible outcomes. E.g. Opportunity Cost. Opportunity cost is the loss that is incurred when one option is chosen over the other. It is something that must be identified and considered in establishing the sales value proposition.

The information that the company gathers after evaluation helps it to understand the desired attributes of the offerings according to market segments. The customer business outcome evaluation documents business outcomes based on these attributes.

Another way of doing customer business outcome evaluation is by interviewing existing customers. Customers being the user of the product validate the evaluation process by their practical experience. Interviews can be conducted across different areas and positions in the customer organization to determine the impact of the offering. New, desired, business outcomes may emerge and existing business outcomes can be validated.

Internal analysis is another way to do customer evaluation. The collective sapience combined with experience of the company holds a broad overview of business outcomes from a customer’s perspective. However internal analysis must be validated by customers to escape the risk factors associated in it. Direct input provided by the customers is typically more valuable and reliable input when determining customers’ business outcomes.

Strategists evaluate investments and actions in terms of likely cost and benefit outcomes. The product offering must draw substantial improvements in client’s business in terms of customer satisfaction, service delivery etc. The seller must narrow down its focus and align sales and marketing activities around its customer. The segment specific sales attempt combined with customized offering helps develop sales value proposition.

“To learn more about Customer Business Outcome Evaluation and related analytics, visit “SMstudy.com”.

Psychology, Sales and the SMstudy Guide

shutterstock_139159697.png

 

Could a beer seller’s story about their purple wisteria saving the day help you?

When the story is an example of using psychology and emotion-driven sales, it can and probably should. London Pride accomplished this with their advertisement featuring a uniquely ancient wisteria plant: “The purple genus has been steadily scaling our brewery walls since 1816. It’s the oldest in England.”  It seems the Brits value their past, their national pride and their wisteria.

“London Pride beer uses emotion-driven marketing … that hooks the reader with a memorable story about something Londoners are familiar with and proud of,” says Kath Pay in Leveraging Psychology in Digital Marketing.

A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide), makes a similar point: “The most popular blogs choose topics that are of interest to a large community. Successful blogs have something interesting, useful, or creative to share, and do that sharing with an engaging style.”

How does one leverage psychology in his or her marketing efforts? SMstudy® Guide’s book Marketing Strategy explains one of the ways: “Psychographic segmentation is primarily used for consumer markets and involves segmenting buyers along one or more psychological variables including, but not limited to, the following—Attitude, Personality, Values, Fears, Lifestyle, and Life stage (e.g., early childhood, youth, young adult, newly married, married with young children, married with teens, empty nester, elderly and retired).” This type of segmentation begins the process of researching and analyzing a target market’s psychological profile.

“To make the path to conversion clear, you must understand the psychological cues that prompt action, and then consider the entire customer journey, using both implicit and explicit directional cues,” says Pay.

How can you find the cues that prompt consumer actions? The SMstudy® Guide helps here, too, suggesting the use of behavioral segmentation and explaining, “There are five variables that can be used for behavioral segmentation.”

Needs: Users are segmented on the basis of their needs related to a product. Here it is important to understand the users’ category and brand purchasing motives, their value systems and their perceptions in order to draw a composite image of each user and his or her needs.

Consumption Behavior: Purchasers may not be the direct consumers or may not be the only consumers for a variety of products. Therefore, consumption patterns for these products should be considered separately.

Purchase Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of their purchasing patterns. Some of the patterns are non-user, potential user, first-time user, one-time user (also referred to as “one and done purchasing”), repeat user, former user, product/brand loyalty-based user and early adopter.

Communication Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of how much they communicate about the product with others before, during and after purchasing. In this respect, opinion leaders are particularly influential as they are knowledgeable about, or are regular users of, particular products; are very vocal about their views regarding such products; and command the attention of other potential customers. In addition to examining how these users communicate, it is also important to understand how they prefer to receive communication. For example, what types of media do they consume?

Consumer Purchasing Roles: Consumers can be categorized based on their roles in the purchasing process. Individuals take on one, several or all of the following roles in the purchasing process: initiator, influencer, decider, buyer and user. When segmenting based on consumer purchasing roles, businesses will often target influencers rather than buyers in an effort to connect with those with the most influence on the purchasing behavior of the group.

Looking at the traits that put consumers in each of these categories provides cues to their motivations and the directions those motivations will lead them.

Using some practical suggestions from www.SMstudy.com can help leverage psychology and make people think that buying from you is a good idea. Cheers.

 

The Truman Show: A Reflection on Product Placement

thetrumanshow.jpg

In the 1998 film The Truman Show, a man named Truman Burbank, played by comedian actor Jim Carrey, stars in the ultimate reality show. At the film’s onset we learn that Truman is the first person to be adopted by a corporation and that since the time of his babyhood, Truman has been used, unbeknownst to him, as the star of his own real-life reality show, a show that entertain millions of viewers worldwide  as it unfolds in real time.

But there are other stars with whom he unknowingly shares the show; the ceaseless parade of products cleverly woven into the artificial tapestry of the stage set Truman calls home.

With no way to break for commercials, since the show is live 24/7, product placement is the obvious choice for advertising. Snatching at any opportunity to slip in a plug for gardening sheers or vegetable peelers, Truman’s family and friends (all actors) awkwardly discuss the merits of wares and services within the program. Everyone is “in the know” on the embedded product “advertisements”, everyone except Truman. He moves through his staged world unaware of the exaggerated enthusiasm with which his “friends and colleagues” discuss a certain beer or truck.

The film’s director, Peter Weir, uses the film as an opportunity to turn the camera on itself and satirically question the part product placement plays in Hollywood. In The Truman Show, Weir is clearly reflecting the reality of the ascent of product placement in films in the 1990s, because although product placement has been seen in film since the early 20th century, the golden age officially began with the release of Spielberg’s ET in 1982. Anyone remember Reece’s Pieces?

It’s been observed that over the last few decades we’ve seen an increase in the amount of product placement in both films and television according to Dr. Mary Lou Galician.

In her book, Handbook of Product Placement in the Mass Media: New Strategies in Marketing Theory, Practice, Trends, and Ethics, Galician states, “What is most important regarding the evolution of product placement is the increasing number of high-involvement placements found during the 20-year period of the study. These high-involvement appearances nearly doubled from 1977 to 1997, further indicating that product placement has become an integral aspect of making Hollywood movies.”

So, what does this mean for marketing strategy?

As Dr. Galician points out in her findings, which cover a 20-year analysis of Hollywood films, product placement is on the rise. This will mean continued opportunity, but also continued competition and possibly threat. The SMstudy Guide, Marketing Strategy book states that opportunities and threats should be determined before embarking on a marketing campaign. In considering product placement as a marketing option, opportunities may include reaching a larger or more responsive segment of the market. Threats may include negative backlash or a company may simply find they are priced out of that particular avenue for marketing their product.

Additional opportunities may arise in the growing opportunities for other film-related product marketing. Dr. Galician notes that there has been a rise in product “tie ins” and “cross promotion” creating more marketing opportunities and greater integration between film and consumer products and services.

As stated in Marketing Strategy, first book of the SMBOK (or SMstudy Guide), potential innovation should always be considered when planning a marketing campaign. New and innovative ways to integrate a product with a film or television show are in continual research and development.

 

Begin at the Beginning: A Well-founded Marketing Strategy

photo-1447752875215-b2761acb3c5d-(1)

 

A well-planned, comprehensive marketing strategy for a product or brand is essential to its success. The marketing strategy determines the specific resource allocation and activities involved with all other aspects of marketing. The effects of a well-positioned marketing strategy reverberate throughout the entire spectrum of marketing options and therefore should not be treated lightly or given short shrift.

The SMstudy® Guide notes, “marketing strategy defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences. It also specifies the pricing and distribution strategies for a product or brand and outlines the specific metrics, objectives and budgets for all its marketing activities.”

So, what are the basics of creating a comprehensive marketing strategy?

In essence, there are four main areas of research and analysis that should be addressed during the creation of any marketing strategy. They include:

  1. An analysis of market opportunity– this includes a look at both the internal capabilities of a company as well as external factors that may impact a business.
  2. Defining the competition, targeting and position– exploring the current competition, understanding industry trends and creating future competitive scenarios helps in selecting target market segments.
  3. Determining pricing and distribution strategies– assessing the value of the product based on its features, analyzing the features and price of competitive products and understanding the mindset of the consumer lays the groundwork for a successful distribution strategy, one that ensures that products and services are delivered and sold in the most efficient manner.
  4. Determining metrics, objectives, marketing aspects and budget allocation– this includes the selection of metrics such as customer reach, brand perception, product availability and sales and profitability as well as details setting targets and allocating budgets.

The chosen marketing strategy has far-reaching impact on all other aspects of marketing. In addition, other aspects of marketing work synergistically with the marketing strategy. Consider the following:

Digital Marketing

Marketing strategy elements such as product features, target segments, and distribution strategy are key determining factors for a robust digital marketing campaign. Product category and product features determine how suitable a product is to be marketed online. Some products or services are more conducive to online marketing than others. Given that digital marketing activities can be integral to a number of other elements of the marketing strategy, the impact of the marketing strategy may be far greater on digital marketing activities depending on the specific product-market combination.

Marketing Research

Marketing research provides valuable insights on the performance of a marketing strategy and is helpful when companies need to take steps to resolve issues. Many of the research activities carried out for one process in marketing strategy may also be used by other marketing aspects. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind all the processes of marketing strategy while designing a research project to ensure that additional relevant information is also collected if the incremental cost of collecting that information is acceptable.

Corporate Sales

Product features and target markets determine how suitable a product is to be sold through business-to-business channels, and how budget and resources are allocated accordingly for corporate sales efforts. Marketing strategy also provides the corporate sales team with market intelligence related to competitors and industry trends, which helps the company to position itself strategically for each business opportunity.

Branding and Advertising

Branding and advertising build awareness of a product with customers and then ideally transitions them to loyal customers. This evolution of trust is made possible by understanding customers’ needs and ensuring that the company’s marketing activities are oriented towards meeting those needs in the best way possible. Customer profiling is a part of the marketing strategy.

Retail Marketing

Target market segments and product features determine how suitable a product is to be sold through retail channels, thereby determining the budget and resources to be allocated to retail sales. Within retail sales, a company needs to further decide whether to sell directly to the end customer or to use intermediaries such as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. With the global rise in e-commerce, this decision is generally a complex one and needs to be made in alignment with the marketing strategy where target segments and a distribution strategy have been clearly defined.

For more details on the processes of marketing strategy, visit http://www.smstudy.com.

A Disappearing Brand

apple.png

The iPad was Apple’s last big innovation launched in 2010. Since then the company has yet to give the people a product that has really caused us to say, “wow.”

Why is this?

In the last five years the company has released upgrades to the iPhone, but I think we can all agree that Apple has mastered the art of the iPhone, so maybe it is time to move onto something else. The company seems to have adopted the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but the problem with this approach is technology is not static. It is changing, adapting and growing every second; so instead of mastering its product, the company should think of advancing with technology by creating a new product.

Apple followed the iPad release with the iPad Pro, which should have provided us all with that “wow” factor that we have been looking for, but unfortunately the device seems more like a copy of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. So, instead of creating new, innovative products the company has stooped to mimicking.

This rut that Apple finds itself in can all be attributed to their previous innovations. According to Timothy Wang at Cubic Lane, “the company is at the top of the industry in the terms of revenues. There is really no pressing need to create or change when business is doing so well.”

The company has to get out of the comfort zone they’ve created if they plan on staying on top of the industry. Remember Nokia? The company used to be the leader in the mobile phone industry. If Apple doesn’t change their mentality soon they could become just another disappearing brand.

As discussed in the recent article, “Out with Innovation, in with Maturation,” brand loyalty is the reason for the company’s continued success, but if we, as consumers, aren’t provided with a big “wow” anytime soon we might find loyalty for another brand. I used to love my Nokia, but now I love my iPhone. Maybe I’ll love my Samsung Galaxy next, you never know.

Apple can look to the SMstudy® Guide, the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge, to find their answer. As noted inMarketing Research, book two in the six book series, “A 5C Analysis is one of the most popular and useful frameworks in understanding internal and external environments. It is an extension of the 3C Analysis that originally included, Company, Customers, and Competitors. Collaborators and Climate were later added to the analysis to make it comprehensive. This integrated analysis covers the most important areas of marketing, and the insights generated can help identify the key problems and challenges facing the organization.”

An analysis of the company and where it wishes to advance in order to beat competitors and appease their customers can be done with the help of collaborators and climate. Apple needs to stand up to its reputation as the most innovative company in order to stay on top of the technological food chain, and fortunately for the company the SMstudy® Guide is the light at the end of their innovative tunnel.

For more interesting articles and resources visit SMstudy.com

In a League of Their Own: The Snapchat Story

orig.jpg

 

When creating an online presence, one of a marketing team’s initial steps is to explore the various digital marketing channels available that will maximize the reach of their products or services. Given the nature of the online world, which is constantly evolving, new channels are developing with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content. Knowing this, marketers must continually assess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness.

To identify the most effective marketing channels for an organization’s products or services, marketers spend a considerable amount of time identifying and understanding the dynamics of all available digital marketing channels and evaluating these channels relative to their company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.

When first moving into the digital marketing realm, it is common for a company to veer towards Facebook and Twitter, considering their global reach. And if so many companies before them have done the same, why not follow the crowd, right? Wrong!

Snapchat is the place to be. Seriously. And here’s why…

According to Adage, “Snapchat entered into a niche that’s so forward because it’s catered towards a generation even its creators didn’t understand. It’s not that the user interface is complicated, it’s that the user interface doesn’t even exist. It makes assumptions about its users preemptively and doesn’t care if it’s shutting out an entire generation.”

The niche generation Adage refers to is the Millennials. If Millennials are your target market, which by the way, they should be considering a recent piece by Entrepreneur stating that 89 percent of Millennials use social media, then exploring Snapchat should definitely be considered.

In the initial stages of researching digital marketing channels, a company’s marketing team identifies target customers in the digital space to understand their likes, dislikes, perceptions of the company’s brand, its major competitors, their digital needs related to the brand, and how the brand may fulfill these needs. All of this information, along with Documented updates of current trends in digital marketing, should be recorded for future reference. But, how does this data lead to a successful ad campaign directed at a target audience? Exploring the many social media platforms that can engage a target audience is a good start.

Snapchat offers brands the opportunity to create their own account allowing them to be followed by their customers, but the app has also paved the way for Snapchat influencers to have great sway over their followers. Influencers, in general, are people that have extremely large social media followings and are paid by companies to advertise their brand. The use of influencers has proven to be a smart move, since, as noted by Jay Baer, president of Convince & Covert “only 33 percent of people in America actually follow brands”

In the end it’s all about reach. The more people you can reach in your target audience the better, so it is important for a company’s digital marketing team to explore all options. Maybe even if that means stepping out of their comfort zone and focus on a new avenue for social media marketing. Based on the low level of online brand loyalty, companies like Snapchat have thought outside the box to offer innovative ways to reach target audiences without a company having to push to gain followers.

For more interesting articles visit SMstudy.com

Sources:

“To Big Brands, From a Millennial: Snapchat Filters Are Where It’s At,” Jillian Hausmann, March, 28 2016. http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/steps-brands-sponsor-snapchat-filters/303288/

“The Real Generation Gap: How Adults and Teens Use Social Media Differently,” Kathleen Davis, August 26, 2013. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228029

“11 Shocking New Social Media Statistics in America,” Jay Baer. http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/11-shocking-new-social-media-statistics-in-america/

Mac v. PC: Distinct image, Distinct Choice

When purchasing a computer, a person will most likely ask themselves; Mac or PC? Well, in 2006 Apple released a series of commercials addressing that very dilemma. The “Get a Mac” campaign made the answer to that question crystal clear. The commercials starred Justin Long as a laidback Steve Jobs look alike personifying a hip Mac computer. The Mac (aka Justin Long) paints the picture of a PC as a nerdy and awkward member of a cubicle farm, but in a nice way.

The commercials were very funny and cute, but were also aggressively competitive. The kind-hearted Mac always turned out to be the good guy, letting the poor sad PC know that even though he was better when it comes to pictures, video, and music, you know… “iLife,” he does confess that PC still has a great app… its calculator.

According to Marketing Strategy, Book 1 of the SMstudy® Guide when forming a brand, a company should, “create a distinct image of a product or range of products in the customer’s mind.” Apple stepped out of the box to provide the public with not only an image, but a personality as well. Mac is a hip young man that promises to be reliable and live up to his promise. Apple took it a step further by also creating an unflattering image for their competition, a drab looking computer that will most likely malfunction or freeze at any point in time.

Prior to the “Get a Mac” campaign, Apple’s sales were on a steady decline while PC’s dominated the market. Apple noticed that while its sales were low, they were voted higher in an American Consumer Satisfaction Index survey. . So, the company decided to play to their strengths, and PC’s weaknesses.

According to Marketing Strategy, Book 1 of the SMstudy® Guide, “The image communicates the promise of value the customer will receive from the product or products.” The image of Justin Long promised creative freedom as well as reliability because that is exactly what Mac computers are known to be. The majority of PC users are aware of the malfunctions that often occur, but Apple wanted to drive the message home to the general public in order to promote its brand. One of the biggest issues with PC’s is their lack of creative control, which is something that Mac’s excel in.

This created an instant increase in sales of 12 percent in the first quarter and by the end of the fourth quarter sales had increased by 39 percent. In fact, sales increased so much that Microsoft launched a rebuttal commercial, thinking that they could use the same format of commercial and be just as successful. Unfortunately for the company it wasn’t the commercial that sold the product, it was the product itself.

For more interesting articles about Sales and Marketing, visit – www.SMstudy.com

In a League of Their Own: The Snapchat Story

orig.jpg

When creating an online presence, one of a marketing team’s initial steps is to explore the various digital marketing channels available that will maximize the reach of their products or services. Given the nature of the online world, which is constantly evolving, new channels are developing with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content. Knowing this, marketers must continually assess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness.

To identify the most effective marketing channels for an organization’s products or services, marketers spend a considerable amount of time identifying and understanding the dynamics of all available digital marketing channels and evaluating these channels relative to their company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.

When first moving into the digital marketing realm, it is common for a company to veer towards Facebook and Twitter, considering their global reach. And if so many companies before them have done the same, why not follow the crowd, right? Wrong!

Snapchat is the place to be. Seriously. And here’s why…

According to Adage, “Snapchat entered into a niche that’s so forward because it’s catered towards a generation even its creators didn’t understand. It’s not that the user interface is complicated, it’s that the user interface doesn’t even exist. It makes assumptions about its users preemptively and doesn’t care if it’s shutting out an entire generation.”

The niche generation Adage refers to is the Millennials. If Millennials are your target market, which by the way, they should be considering a recent piece by Entrepreneur stating that 89 percent of Millennials use social media, then exploring Snapchat should definitely be considered.

In the initial stages of researching digital marketing channels, a company’s marketing team identifies target customers in the digital space to understand their likes, dislikes, perceptions of the company’s brand, its major competitors, their digital needs related to the brand, and how the brand may fulfill these needs. All of this information, along with Documented updates of current trends in digital marketing, should be recorded for future reference. But, how does this data lead to a successful ad campaign directed at a target audience? Exploring the many social media platforms that can engage a target audience is a good start.

Snapchat offers brands the opportunity to create their own account allowing them to be followed by their customers, but the app has also paved the way for Snapchat influencers to have great sway over their followers. Influencers, in general, are people that have extremely large social media followings and are paid by companies to advertise their brand. The use of influencers has proven to be a smart move, since, as noted by Jay Baer, president of Convince & Covert “only 33 percent of people in America actually follow brands”

In the end it’s all about reach. The more people you can reach in your target audience the better, so it is important for a company’s digital marketing team to explore all options. Maybe even if that means stepping out of their comfort zone and focus on a new avenue for social media marketing. Based on the low level of online brand loyalty, companies like Snapchat have thought outside the box to offer innovative ways to reach target audiences without a company having to push to gain followers.

For more interesting articles visit SMstudy.com

Sources:

“To Big Brands, From a Millennial: Snapchat Filters Are Where It’s At,” Jillian Hausmann, March, 28 2016. http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/steps-brands-sponsor-snapchat-filters/303288/

“The Real Generation Gap: How Adults and Teens Use Social Media Differently,” Kathleen Davis, August 26, 2013. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228029

“11 Shocking New Social Media Statistics in America,” Jay Baer. http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/11-shocking-new-social-media-statistics-in-america/

Market Analysis

 

MARKET-ANALYSIS

 

A local company may boast the best surfboards around, but if it is situated in the Texas Panhandle a lack of sales could make waves. Similarly, a retirement home attempting to attract business through the latest technology might soon find itself in its twilight years. Companies that aspire to achieve sustained success in the marketplace must first perform a market analysis.

Market analysis involves examining market data to identify patterns and predict future events. The purpose of performing a market analysis is to understand the attractiveness of a market. David Aaker outlined the following dimensions of a market analysis:

  1. Market Size—This dimension defines the size and potential of the markets under consideration. Market size is calculated on the basis of current sales volume for the market. Another important consideration for measuring market size is its future growth potential, so appropriate assumptions need to be made regarding market growth rates.Example of Market Size: The market for sports equipment typically varies from region to region. In areas with longer summers, the demand for tennis and golf equipment is generally higher. In mountainous regions there is a larger demand for skiing and hiking apparel. The population in regions may be similar, but the market size of each region may vary greatly for each specific product line.
  2. Market Trends—Trends show the overall growth or decline of a market, competitor activities and customer behavior over time. Current market trends can also help in predicting future market trends.Example of Market Trends: The timing of major sporting events often results in an increased demand for particular products. For example, branded soccer balls and jersey sales increase every four years leading up to and during the World Cup.
  3. Market Growth Rate and Profitability—Market growth rate forecasts use previous data and future trend indications to predict the future growth rate of markets. Product diffusion curves are used to predict inflection points in growth projections. Market profitability is often evaluated using Porter’s Five Forces model.Example of Market Growth Rate and Profitability: As international trade and growth in developing countries increase, it is possible to evaluate the potential acceptance rate of hi-tech features on bicycles in markets traditionally dominated by low-cost versions. For example, observing the patterns of user adoption of ceramic disk brakes in France may lead to an understanding of similar patterns in countries such as China.
  4. Industry Cost Structure—Value Chain Analysis can be used alongside industry cost structure to identify value-adding activities and reduce costs by eliminating those activities that do not add value. Focusing on activities that are critical to the company can help develop a competitive advantage and prevent wastage of resources.Example of Industry Cost Structure: In the twentieth century, the banking industry typically relied on physical branches for addressing customer needs. However, the cost structure for the industry has changed significantly in recent times, with many customers preferring to do most of their banking transactions online, or through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
  5. Distribution Channels—Analyzing the effectiveness of existing distribution channels and identifying emerging channels help a company understand its ability to reach customers and identify new opportunities to gain a competitive advantage. Companies with existing distribution channels may find it easier to launch similar types of products targeted at similar market segments.Example of Distribution Channels: As with most other industries, online sales and distribution have greatly impacted the marketing and sale of sporting goods. Online representation of the value of the product is crucial to ensure the customer is comfortable enough with the product to purchase it without actually being able to touch it. Relationships with shipping companies become equally important as the customer expects quick and reliable delivery.
  6. Key Success Factors—Identifying key success factors helps an organization focus on existing strengths that have contributed to success and seize opportunities that can give it a competitive advantage. Such factors might include accessibility to essential resources, distribution channels, patents, operational efficiencies, technological superiority and so on.Example of Key Success Factors: The success of an online swimwear provider may be quantified with a few key factors such as the ability of the customer to receive clothing that fits without the benefit of trying it on, the ability of the company to keep shipping costs low enough to compete with brick-and-mortar stores and the ability to offer a broad range of product choices to maximize the overall appeal of the site.

Companies searching for success must be prepared to execute when presented with the opportunity. The prep work of any marketplace resident should include analyzing market size, market trends, market growth rate, industry cost structure, distribution channels and key success factors.

David Aaker’s outline of the dimensions of a market analysis can be found in Aaker, D.A. (2010), Marketing Research, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.