Can you lay the foundation without digging the ground first?
In college, you’ve been given various case studies and example companies and asked to conduct a marketing analysis on them. Then there would be questions in the exams, and you would try to remember and answer those questions. When you venture into the business life, you will realize that these analyses are only prepared to be put in front of the top management, to pull the wool over their eyes. The analysis’ you took very seriously in the beginning slowly turn into the analysis’ you created via copy-pasting from Google search results.
Market analysis is a critical issue, and we shouldn’t forget these two things:
- The analysis of the market report shouldn’t be to sugar-coat the senior executives; this is not the purpose of its existence. Market analysis reports should help with your marketing strategies and plans.
- They are like live beings. They need to be nurtured and taken care of. If you are updating your analysis only once a year, you better stop and save yourself the trouble. If you are going to add a six-month-old competitor to the report you have done a year ago while reviewing it, stop doing what you’re doing.
Drucker, when talking about market research, states:
“Marketing analysis is a good deal more than ordinary market research or customer research. It first tries to look at the entire business. And second, it tries not to look at our customer, our market, our products but at the market, the customer, his purchases, his satisfaction, his values, his buying and spending patterns, his rationality.”
When carrying out marketing analysis, thoroughly analyzing your product, target audience, competitors and the customer experience should prove useful.
- What is your product?
- How and where is your product being sold?
- Is it possible to buy the product in a physical store?
- What features do you need to add / remove from your product?
- Do you need to launch new products?
- Who are your customers and why do they prefer you?
- Who are not your customers?
- Who are your competitors and why businesses which aren’t your competitors are not your competitors?
- What are the advantages or disadvantages of your competitors?
- Which company would your customers choose if you weren’t in the business?
How does the pre-/after-sale experience work both in your/your competitors’ businesses?
Actually, customer experience is not directly related to marketing analysis, but I believe the customer experience plays a critical role, especially in the e-commerce business. Because there is no chance to see your customers in the physical world before or after the sale, so the things are going much differently. This is why it is of critical importance that someone who visits your site, leaves it as a customer (I will mention this in detail later.)
I have tried to keep the questions that needed to be answered for the marketing analysis very brief and concise. There are many elaborate, more detailed questions on the internet. However, I doubt lengthy marketing analyses are useful. The goal should always be looking at the big picture. Otherwise, you will drown in detail. Don’t forget that, with marketing analysis, you’re trying to understand your present and future position in the market.
Suppose you sell shirts.
Is your product a shirt or clothing?
Are your competitors selling only shirts or clothes in general?
Is your target group shirt-wearers? Or can you target t-shirt-wearers as well?
Do you know why people who do not wear shirts do not wear it? Suppose that there is a group who don’t prefer shirts due to the need for ironing.
Would it be profitable for you to produce your shirts without the need for ironing, or is there a lot of competition in that market?
How many shirts do people buy in a year?
Would selling complementary products besides your shirts increase your sales? Or would it create problems in the long run because of the additional operation?
Lengthy marketing analyses are not useful; they’ll drown you in detail. This is a fact. But another important point is that people don’t know how they should respond to questions. What matters is not how many questions you can answer, but how you react to those questions.
Here’s a classic example: Would Coca-Cola be this successful if they only targeted people and the market with just fizzy drinks?
Use your imagination before you start. It’ll also be relieving to leave products, marketing budgets, etc. aside and daydream. Then you can collect all the ideas, questions and answers in your floating castle and match them with the existing plans and solutions to see which direction you can go and be successful.
If you set boundaries from the beginning, your questions and answers to them will remain within those boundaries. And unfortunately, like the learned helpless grasshopper, you won’t be able to jump higher even if you have potential to do so.