Whether you know it or not, market clarity is your top opportunity. The better it is, the greater your ability will be to cut through the noise and gain awareness, word of mouth, and ultimately more customers in your target market segment.
The truth is, that’s enough to make market clarity your number one business growth strategy. So how do you define market clarity and strive to improve it? I’ve addressed that answer in a previous blog post, but quite simply market clarity is a metric that allows you to:
- Clearly understand how you truly see your target market.
- Determine how clearly you design and develop your market “touch points” to create the best offering in your target market.
- Know how clearly your target market participants see your product or service and why it’s a unique solution for helping them achieve their goals.
Most companies have very low market clarity, but it can be improved with company-wide commitment and resolve. So what stops companies from addressing it? In my experience, there are 4 contributing factors to poor market clarity.
- It can be overwhelming to look at the list of items that you need get right in order to achieve a really high level of market clarity.
- It takes some level of coordination across several departments to really nail it.
- When people start working on market clarity, they sometimes feel overwhelmed and confused before they’re able to really tune in to their market segment.
- it takes discipline, tenacity, and continuous improvement to truly gain that clarity over time.
Those four factors cause many companies to employ half-hearted or unsuccessful market clarity efforts. They may think that they’re working at it, but one of those contributing factors usually trips them up. We designed a market clarity assessment last year for our portfolio companies that I think will help you figure out where you stand. Be honest with your answers and I think you’ll see that there’s always room for improvement.
So How Can You Improve Market Clarity?
The answer is pretty simple, but reaching the goal can be difficult. Companies need strong, long-term effort at the senior management level to make it happen. There are four management practices that will significantly raise your probability for success: prioritization, collaboration, iteration, and rigorous quarterly reviews at the senior management level. Here’s a summary for each practice:
First, companies must make market clarity one of their senior management team’s most important goals. You can use the overall market clarity score from the assessment I shared with you above as your S.M.A.R.T. goal, or you could choose one or more of the component parts that you believe provide particularly good opportunity for improvement. Either way, you have to commit to it and make market clarity a top priority.
You must assemble the right team to attack your issues and be accountable for the overall goal of market clarity. There are several functions that need to work well together if you’re going to be successful, so collaboration among co-workers and teams is essential. I suggest having a weekly market clarity agenda item with your Market Touch Point Council (note: also known as a Product Council or Go-To-Market Council).
The Market Touch Point Council is responsible for achieving the S.M.A.R.T. goal and should work to understand the core issues and opportunities. From there, it needs to collaborate to agree on the action steps that will help achieve that goal and review the results and activities as progress is made.
Companies will never get complete market clarity on their first try. Market clarity is an iterative process. At each level of market clarity’s components, you’ll gain insight into how to improve every other component in the process. Don’t try to achieve perfection with each iteration. Instead, think about how you can make measurable improvements to one or more components and use those results to inform your next iteration.
Every quarter, your company’s market clarity team needs to check its progress, reflect on the work and results to date, and determine what the best prioritized actions are to improve market clarity in the following quarter. That work should then be reviewed and discussed at the senior management level, leading to final prioritized plans that the senior management team can commit to.
Market Clarity is a Key Ingredient for Growing Companies
Ultimately, the primary goal for all emerging growth stage companies should be to create high market clarity. The key discovery that we’ve unearthed over time is that companies can actually design their growth by creating high market clarity. As you penetrate and begin to own target segments, you can use market clarity to increase and maintain your stranglehold on those segments.
Of course, it’s only helpful if you maintain it. Market clarity is not a one-time commitment. As your company grows and expands with new product offerings and new target segments, your market clarity will need to follow that same growth trajectory.