By Jonathan Kurz, Content Director, Hanover Research
How a product is positioned in the marketplace is crucial to how – and how well – it will sell. This is just as true for B2B industrial equipment as it is for fast-moving consumer goods. Whether you are introducing a new product in a tried-and-true market, entering a brand-new market, or trying to maximize revenue from existing products or recent acquisitions, a thoughtful approach to your go-to-market (GTM) strategy is a necessary first step in an iterative process geared toward accomplishing those goals.
While in many cases there is no replacement for firsthand customer knowledge, businesses can get initial results more expediently and less expensively by exhausting the resources already at their fingertips. This method also saves time and money through a more refined approach.
During our conversations with senior executives across the past year, we’ve asked the question, “why don’t you leverage publicly available data as a starting point?” Below are the most common responses our team received:
- “There’s no need for it.”
- “What the customer thinks is more valuable than what my competitors are doing.”
- “We operate in a niche market, and this information just isn’t out there.”
- “We don’t have time.”
Statements like these hinder the successful launch of a new product or service by failing to acknowledge the value of leveraging information that other organizations have already spent thousands, often hundreds of thousands, of dollars to gather.
By examining the marketing mix of competitive brands and products in the space, organizations can determine what is working for their competition and what best practices may be, and translate those findings into a tailored approach that fits their business’s specific situation.
Any organization with a will to conduct this type of intelligence-gathering can do so. E. Jerome McCarthy provides a simple and easy-to-use framework typically referred to as the 4Ps in his seminal textbook, “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach”:
Many executives fail to leverage the 4Ps for several reasons, including:
- They are unaware – or unfamiliar with – the 4Ps;
- They are aware of the 4Ps, but fail to understand them beyond an academic concept and convert them to practical insights;
- Or, they are aware of the 4Ps as a practical and impactful lever for their organizations, but aren’t informed on the best publicly available sources to support these efforts.
Ascertaining and evaluating what a selection of relevant competitors are communicating to their customers and potential customers empowers businesses to derive best practices and a suggested GTM strategy tailored to your business. The short- and long-term benefits of this strategy are manifold.
Case Study: Understanding an Adjacent Market’s Needs
A manufacturing company has acquired a business in an adjacent market. This is a highly regarded business, but they only make one basic version of their product and sell it into only one relatively narrow market.
The new owners of the business suspect that a much larger potential market exists, but do not know the market’s specific needs, nor where and how they can be competitive within it.
The Research Approach
Hanover examined public product and promotional materials from six competing brands to build marketing mix profiles for each competitor. They used those profiles to inform and support specific recommendations for the owners, to great success.
These recommendations included:
- Attractive segments of the market;
- Product features necessary to compete in various segments;
- Beneficial branding strategy for existing products;
- Advice on how to leverage product development investments to capture growth opportunities without cannibalizing the existing, successful business;
- Insight into notional pricing parameters based on competitive intelligence and research into differing value propositions.
As noted above, this should not always replace firsthand customer knowledge (learn more about how Hanover can help you enhance your customer knowledge here), but can provide insights in a shortened timeframe, and help you better orient and refine primary research and data analysis ahead. In cases of highly technical products with sales channels that rely heavily on in-person sales representatives, direct customer insights are even more important.
Understanding your competitors’ GTM strategies through a marketing mix framework can provide valuable insights into ways to reorient strategies toward maximum growth and success, and can serve as a valuable piece of the puzzle as your company thinks strategically about your markets, customers, products, and brand.