One of my favorite business newscasters often says, “business doesn’t like uncertainty.” Yes, well….. We are living the maxim, “May you live in interesting times.”
So…. what are you doing to anticipate market conditions three, six, twelve, eighteen months from now? Spinning in anxiety isn’t an effective business planning tool.
I used foresight to anticipate a plane heading toward an afternoon moon to position my camera for the above photograph. I also used a thought-out forecasting strategy in early 2007 to anticipate the direction Canada’s economic indicators would take for the year; in February, 2008, I won the Association of Professional Economists of B.C. “Crystal Ball” Award for having most closely predicted the nation’s 2007 economic indicators.
What’s more, there are strategies you can take to diminish business uncertainty about the coming months and years during these “interesting times.” Any strategy requires information. Thus, “living in an interesting time” demonstrates the need for data – including collection and analysis of competitor and market data to better assess your market environment.
Tap your firm’s internal knowledge and experience
- Talk to – interview – a broad range of people within your firm to learn their perspectives and gain their insights about market activity.
- Listen thoughtfully to what people have to say. If they say something that challenges you, consider thoughtfully what they have to say. Don’t dismiss something you disagree with or that comes from a source you don’t expect.
- Organize the information you gather into a resource to which you can refer. For example, the charts in Competitive Intelligence Workbook are a useful repository of competitor and market information.
Tap your network’s knowledge and experience
This is a critical time to make use of your industry and professional networks. Talk to professionals in your network to “get the pulse” of what’s happening in your industry. Apply the same principles listed above.
Specifically, gather and evaluate market and competitive intelligence:
In addition to the age-old maxim of “know thyself,” this is a critical time to “know your market” and “know your competitors.”
Companies are sometimes tempted to cut costs – including market research and competitive intelligence – in lean times. Smart companies recognize they need MORE information, not less, during challenging times. Market research and competitive intelligence deliver important information to help you navigate difficult times.
- What do you need to know about markets and competitors? What don’t you know? Those questions are fairly easy to answer. For example:
1) How much is the economy going to shrink or expand and by how much?
2) When is the economic tide going to turn?
3) How are my customers going to respond to market conditions over time?
4) What are my competitors doing? What will they do?
5) What’s going to happen with coronavirus?
- Create blank charts, graphs, and reports into which your market research and competitive intelligence team can enter data to gain a picture about the questions above – potential and likely answers to your questions.
- Your market research and competitive intelligence team can then go to work “filling in the charts” to gain a picture of market conditions. Be sure to have employees from throughout the company feed their industry knowledge to your intelligence charts.
- As market and competitor data is populated into your charts, think of your charts like a jigsaw puzzle. You may or may not fit every jigsaw piece into the information puzzle; the more information you enter into the chart, though, the better you’ll be able to plan your strategic direction based upon available data. Further, providing your collective insights to your corporate teams – sales, marketing, etc. – will enable them to improve their performance.
Burkhardt & Co. is available to assist you with your market research and competitive intelligence activities. Contact us today.