Scott Maxwell founded OpenView Venture Partners in 2006 and has worked in venture capital for over 13 years. He focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest...
Achieving Market Clarity Should Be Your Company’s #1 Priority
Achieving Market Clarity Should Be Your Company’s #1 Priority
Do you really understand your target market? Learn how to conduct an honest assessment and set your company on a course to achieve true market clarity.
Editor’s note: This is the third post in a multi-part series about go-to-market strategy design. Read the previous posts in the series to learn why focus is everything when it comes to designing a go-to-market strategy, and how you can use the tools of design for a more successful approach.
In its most conceptual form, a go-to-market strategy encompasses the ways in which a business approaches, engages, and attacks its key market targets. It is a focused, organized process for identifying the people, channels, and factors that have the most influence on buying decisions, and formulating a plan of action to promote specific behaviors.
Naturally, doing that without knowing exactly who those people are, what they care about, and which channels they tune into most is virtually impossible.
Which is why — before any company begins designing a go-to-market strategy — it must first assess its market clarity, a metric that we use at OpenView to determine how clearly a business understands three things:
- Your target market’s biggest needs and pain points, and the influencers who play roles in shaping that market’s opinions and decisions.
- The “touch points” that create the best chance to deliver the information your target market needs.
- The “sticking points” that keep customers from being aware of or engaged with your business.
The better your market clarity 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.
4 Tips for Improving Your Company’s Market Clarity
Not sure where your company falls on the market clarity spectrum?
Take OpenView’s Market Clarity Assessment to determine where you stand.
Unfortunately, most companies have very low market clarity, and it almost always inhibits their ability to design and execute an effective go-to-market strategy.
The good news is that improving market clarity is relatively simple. But doing so requires company-wide commitment, particularly at the senior management level. In order to improve your market clarity before you begin designing a go-to-market strategy, be sure to do these four things:
- Make market clarity a top priority: If achieving market clarity is not one of your most important goals, you will never improve it and you will never be fully prepared to execute a tightly focused go-to-market strategy.
- Encourage collaboration: There are several functions (sales, marketing, product development, customer service, etc.) that need to work well together if you’re going to successfully execute a go-to-market strategy. Therefore, collaboration among co-workers and teams is essential.
- Iterate — and then iterate again: Truthfully, you will never achieve total market clarity on your first try. It is an iterative process, and over time you will gain insight into how to improve each component in the process. Don’t try to achieve perfection during each iteration. Instead, think about how you can make measurable improvements to one or more components and use those results to inform your next move.
- Conduct rigorous reviews: Every quarter, the stakeholders who are responsible for market clarity need to check its progress, reflect on the work and results to date, and determine the prioritized actions that will 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.
Of course, 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.
The key discovery that we’ve unearthed over time is that companies can design their growth by creating high market clarity. As you penetrate and begin to own target segments, you can leverage market clarity to increase and maintain your stranglehold on those segments.
Don’t Forget to Study Your Market Participants, Too
As your market clarity improves, so too will your understanding of the market participants who are instrumental in facilitating specific buyer behaviors.
Those participants — buyers, influencers, sales and marketing channels, etc. — will obviously vary by industry and market segment, but generally speaking you should be able to clearly describe their qualities and characteristics.
Looking learn more about identifying market participants?
- Users, buyers, and buyer influencers (i.e., the people who actually purchase — or influence the purchase of — your products and services)
- Indirect marketing channels (i.e., blogs, content sites, forums, traditional media, etc.)
- Direct sales and marketing channels (i.e., your website, social networks, email newsletter, etc.)
- Indirect sales channels (i.e., e-commerce sites, partners, distributors, VARS, etc.)
- Complimentary products and services (i.e., products that your target buyers are using to satisfy a parallel need or pain point)
- Delivery channels (i.e., the ways in which your product is delivered to end users)
- Product influencers (i.e., the people who help your users better understand your product and resolve issues with it)
- Indirect communication channels (i.e., the forums, blogs, social sites, and content sources that influence your users during their usage lifecycle)
- Direct communication channels (i.e., the mediums that can be used to communicate directly with your buyers, which include your website, email messages, and telephone conversations)
Once you have fully studied those market participants, you should be able to glean unique insight that helps you establish your go-to-market strategy and understand the effects of your execution.
From there, go-to-market strategy design is all about zeroing in on one specific customer segment (if you’re targeting more than one segment at once), determining the leverage points that give you the best chance to influence behaviors, and designing one unit of your strategy at a time.
What approaches have you adopted to improve your market clarity?
Editor’s note: This post is the third in a series diving into the specific steps that growing companies need to take to incorporate the principles of design into their go-to-market strategy. Read the other posts in the series below:
- The key to market clarity
- Why focus is everything
- How you can apply the tools of design to your market strategy
- When you should start designing your go-to-market strategy
- The 4 C’s of effective go-to-market strategy
- Go-to-market strategy: Should you go big or start small?
Photo by: Dave Lawler