The purpose of market intelligence
George Harrison famously said that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. The purpose of market intelligence is to take the guesswork out of growing your business.
B2B Marketing Strategy: What Is Market Intelligence?
Market intelligence is often wide-ranging. It includes all the data your company brings together in relation to the markets that you operate in (or that you wish to operate in).
This information might relate to customer demographics, regulations, trends, competitors, and geographic locations.
The information that your company is able to gather from this research can help you to define market segments and selling opportunities. Market intelligence also deals with competitive intelligence and product intelligence.
The goal of market intelligence is to gain a more holistic view of your market. This will help you to understand the bigger picture, to uncover insights, and make strategic business decisions that are informed by data.
Market Research vs. Market Intelligence
Market research is a bit different from market intelligence. While market research tends to have a time-based limitation, market intelligence is usually an ongoing process.
When people speak about market research, they are referring to the process of accumulating and analysing data for the purpose of achieving specific, shorter-term, business objectives.
Market intelligence is not a one-off activity. Instead, it is a process that supports long-term business success across all of a firm’s go-to-market channels. Market intelligence is about listening to, and understanding, where a market is, where it is going in the short, medium, and longer term, as well as understanding where your business fits. You will grow faster and spend less on your go-to-market if you take a forensic approach to market intelligence.
The three types of Market Intelligence: qualitative, quantitative, and forensic
There are two main types of Market Intelligence that every business needs to succeed. Firstly, qualitative intelligence. This type of intelligence is about people’s perceptions of your business and what they understand about the value that you can provide. It is intelligence about the quality of an experience, people’s feelings about your business, or their opinions of you and your competition. Qualitative Market Intelligence is harder to measure than other forms of intelligence. The only real way to gain Qualitative Market Intelligence that you can base strategic decisions on is through focus interviews. These are structured conversations with customers or prospects that gather opinions and perceptions in ways that can be compared and analysed to produce information a business can rely on in its go-to-market strategies and plans. Qualitative Market Intelligence helps your business to tell a story that resonates with your target markets and buyers. Without the right story, your prospects could misunderstand your business and simply overlook you.
Secondly, there is Quantitative Market Intelligence. These are hard facts about your markets, your customers, and your commercial potential. One of the problems that businesses experience with quantitative intelligence is that it is too high level. For example, the SaaS market is forecast to be growing at 27.5% CAGR which means it will reach US$712 billion in the next five years. This is helpful information because it is quantifying that the SaaS market is large and growing. However, this is a global figure. Finding intelligence that is specific to your target markets or territories is difficult and can be expensive. So, what do you do? Larato’s answer is to specify your Real Addressable Market. This involves defining your ideal markets, prospects, customers, and deals sold. It is important because winning and keeping new customers is becoming harder and more expensive. Understanding your Real Addressable Market saves time, resource, and money. Specifically, this Quantitative Market Intelligence will tell you
· How many companies you could sell to,
· How many of them are likely to buy from you,
· Why they will buy from you instead of a competitor,
· When they are likely to buy from you.
Your business plan needs this information in order for you to achieve your commercial goals. You need Quantitative Market Intelligence to assure business success in contemporary tough-trading environments.
Forensic Market Intelligence
Forensic Market Intelligence is a combination of Qualitative Market Intelligence and Quantitative Market Intelligence that is detailed enough to assure your business is aligned with your prospects in ways that make it easier for them to buy from you.
The level of detail required is different for different businesses because all businesses are unique to potential buyers.
Because all buyers are people, and they bring their own perceptions to every purchase they make. Someone seeking to buy exactly the same product from two different businesses will view those organisations differently.
One of the big benefits of Forensic Market Intelligence is that a business is almost always working with smaller, more informative, data and market opinion. For example, a Larato client had been selling and marketing to an international prospect base of over 100,000 companies. Forensic Market Intelligence evidenced that our client’s Real Addressable Market was approximately 2,500 companies and that ~450 were more likely to purchase within twelve months. Equipped with this intelligence, our client was able to accelerate revenue growth and cut costs.
There are other useful applications of Forensic Market Intelligence beyond understanding your Real Addressable Market:
· How to cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers by quantifying the White Space that exists within your base
· Identify the companies that are buying from your competitors
· Quantifying the return on value that you deliver to your customers. This is an essential element of winning and keeping business today
· Specifying a differentiated sales and marketing experience that makes you stand out from the competition
If you want to grow your business, it is vital to understand White Space. White Space is a process and strategy to identify untapped revenue opportunities or ‘white spaces’ for your products and services within existing customer accounts. Understanding White Space helps you to identify services your customers are buying from competitors. Additionally, White Space intelligence helps to qualify gaps in your portfolio that could meet customers’ needs.
The final three essentials of B2B Market Intelligence
1. Secure Leadership Buy-In
Without the buy-in of your board, it will be impossible to gather the market intelligence that your business needs to make the best strategic decisions. The benefits of strong market intelligence explained in this article should help persuade even the most sceptical executives. Don’t make decisions without the best intelligence you can afford.
2. Data Accuracy Is Paramount
Today, market intelligence programmes often involve accumulating and analysing large amounts of information. It will not be helpful for your business if this data is neither accurate nor complete.
If this is the case, it will cost your company lots of money. This could also damage your reputation.
In Larato’s experience, most bought-in data sets are between ten and fifty-eight per cent accurate. This is not good enough. You should aim to have data sets that are more than ninety-five per cent accurate.
There are several principal issues with bought-in data that Larato has seen during the past fifteen years.
Data coverage. This refers to the number of organisations that are included in a data set. If your Real Addressable Market is ten thousand companies and your data provider has six thousand in its systems, this means you are only covering sixty per cent of your market potential.
Data Accuracy. Data become irrelevant extremely quickly. If your data is not accurate when you purchase it, you will limit your business growth.
3. Use your Market Intelligence right across your business
It is common for businesses to use Market Intelligence mainly for marketing and sales purposes. Accurate, relevant information is valuable to the whole business because it can inform how you to deliver a differentiated experience to customers, partners, or even suppliers.
If you have found this article helpful, you might also like this one about kick starting growth by adapting your pricing strategy. It explores the seven principal strategies for pricing and provides insights into how you can use your Market Intelligence to help make the best decisions about pricing.