Being Prepared for Change (Why You Need Market Intelligence to Drive Revenue Growth)
Mar 03, 2018
Change is constant and your ability to drive long-term success is going to be impacted by your ability to gather and analyze market data today that lets you identify opportunities and threats in the market early in their development. This allows you to prepare appropriate responses rather than get caught unaware, unprepared and left to be run-over unexpectedly.
For example, we’ve known for years that the adult student segment would outgrow the traditional student segment thanks to Census data. Yet some colleges are struggling to achieve enrollment goals because they elected not to develop programs and services for adults.
How do you see Opportunities & Threats before they pass you by or run over you?
You need to know what to look for, where to look for it, and then have a vigilant process in place that captures the key data, so it can be analyzed and transformed into useful insights and information that allow you to make informed decisions.
The short and sweet answer is “market intelligence”, and it consists of “market insight” and “competitive insight”.
Market intelligence is the gathering and analyzing of information relevant to an organization’s external environment and is often part of the organization’s strategic planning function. It refers to procedures, skills, applications, tools and practices used to support decision-making.
Key Questions Guide Your Market Intelligence Success
What is going on in the world around you, outside your organization, that can impact your ability to achieve your goals?
What is going on in the following areas specifically?
- Government, law, politics.
Is your market growing? Shrinking? Flat?
Is your market easy to enter? Exit?
Can your target audience change from one solution to another with great ease? Or are there barriers that make changing difficult for them?
And as for the competitive side of things, start off with questions like:
Who is your competition?
What are their strengths? Weaknesses?
Who do they serve (target audience)?
What is their product strategy? Pricing strategy? Distribution strategy? Promotional strategy?
What is their share of the market?
What is their financial position?
What is their culture?
What is their vision and mission?
What has the leadership team done over the near and long-term? Are they risk takers or avoiders? Innovative? Conservative? Fast or slow to respond to market change?
Handling the Workload
Yes, that is a lot of work. Well, let me clarify – that can be a lot of work if you let it.
And to paraphrase Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in Taken, market intelligence requires “...a very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a very long career…” (In case you don’t recognize the reference, click here.)
Together, those two points mean [a] you can make market intelligence manageable for your resources (human, financial, etc.), and [b] not everyone is cut out for identifying the right sources of information, gathering information, analyzing information, etc.
This means you need to make some important decisions.
What do we really need to benefit? What would be ‘success’ at the end of our first 12-months? What about 24-months?
Can we do the work that’s necessary to achieve that success in that time frame with existing resources?
If the answer is “Yes”, then start making it happen. But if the answer is “No” or “Not sure”, look to outside resources and invest a little to learn a lot.
You can hire market intelligence firms with a wide range of experiences, skills, abilities for a wide array of fees. They can provide you with guidance, so you maximize success with your existing resources. Or they can do some or all of the monitoring, gathering, analysis and even recommendations for you.
But keep in mind that you need to have realistic expectations of what success is so that you can determine if any investment is acceptable. For those of you that balk at any expense, take a deep breath and ask ‘…what would need to happen because of this investment to make me feel that this was a wise investment?”
Working with colleges and universities, where a graduate degree could cost $25,000 at 50% profit, you have to accept the fact that if your investment costs $50,000 annually but leads to a new program being developed and enrolling 100 students annually…or $2.5M in tuition…that was one very wise investment.
Market Intelligence Tools
Since technology changes on a daily basis, we use G2Crowd to help us identify technology solutions. When you look, use “market intelligence” and “business intelligence” because there is overlap.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.