Because of today’s fast-paced markets, many new companies are speeding up their go-to-market efforts just to get their foot in the door before someone beats them to it. That may seem like a good idea at first, but it is definitely not one I would recommend. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of discovering a new product/service and too eager to launch it into the market without any prior research, strategy, or objectives set in place. From my experience, that is a huge mistake. You must spend a substantial amount of time to understand the building blocks first. Throughout the marketing process, you have to constantly take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” and, “How is this helping me reach my goals?”
Before doing anything else, ask yourself and your team these essential questions to fully understand the four key players: management, consumers, competitors, and your brand.
Before taking the leap and entering any market, first take a closer look at your internal organization to understand the capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses of your team.
What are our goals?
Whether quantitative or qualitative, specific short and long-term goals must be set right off the bat. Communicate these goals with every member of the company and continually update them throughout time. Every action the company takes should be aligned with these goals, or else it’s a waste of your time and resources.
Do we have the right management team?
Take a step back and analyze your existing management team to identify if you have the right mix of knowledge, personalities, and field expertise on board. Does each one of your team members contribute to your company’s goals? If not, it’s time to reevaluate your hiring process.
What makes us special?
If you want to have an impact on your future customers, you must stand out in the market. It’s easy to copy the successful players in the industry, but that’s the last thing you should do. Customers will see right through the inauthenticity. Figure out what it is that makes your product unique, and take advantage of those attributes.
Essentially, without consumers, your company ceases to exist. You have to have customers in order to generate profits that’ll maintain your existence. Many companies assume that as soon as they create a fabulous new product, customers will be flocking in. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But unfortunately, that’s not the case. In order to do this, you must first ask:
Who are your target consumers?
Fully understand your customers, their demographics, and their lifestyles. In order to have sustainable existence in the market, you have to completely understand your consumers by building specific personas, representing each individual customer group. Therefore, you will be able to tailor your messaging to target each persona accordingly.
What are their pain points?
If you’re introducing a new product in the market, you’re introducing a new solution to an existing problem. But if that problem does not exist or you are not able to identify it clearly, maybe it’s time to reconsider your approach. Before entering the market, you have to understand your customer’s needs and pain points. That way, when you are compiling your messaging strategy, you know exactly what problem you will be addressing.
What communication channels do they use?
In today’s interconnected digital world, customers are more informed than ever before. As a marketing manager, you have to clearly identify the marketing channels your customers are using, whether it’s mobile, desktop, TV, direct mail etc. There’s a new craze called multi-channel marketing that you should be aware of and be comfortable using to relay your message to your customers through the right channels at all times.
Just like you want to have a clear understanding of your company and its customers, you must spend as much time conducting market research to analyze your competitors– direct or indirect ones. If you are entering a specific market, you should be able to know:
Who are your competitors?
In almost every market you enter, you will have competition. Therefore, it’s important that before you jump in with both feet, you have to identify who you are competing with, what value they are providing, and how do they compare.
Where are they positioned in the market?
Take a look at the attributes of each competitor to see how they compare to each other and to you. By conducting this market research, you can build a competitive landscape by plotting your competitors based on a specific set of attributes. This will give you a nice visual of where competitors sit in relative to each other so you can identify market gaps which you can potentially enter.
What are their competitive advantages?
Identify what they have that you don’t have, and vice versa. Are there any economies of scale, intellectual property, or established supplier relationships that give them advantages in the marketplace? If so, you have to keep each and everyone in mind when you are developing your marketing campaign. Remember, it’s all about differentiating yourself.
At the end of the day, your brand will be one of, if not the most important asset you own. It will not only differentiate you from competitors, but it can also be the main reason consumers buy your products. If you build a robust brand image with purpose, you can provide the consumer with immeasurable amounts of intrinsic value. But to build brand value, you need a clear picture of:
What do we want to be known for?
The marketing lingo to this question is “brand identity”. You and your management team must agree on how you want your company to be portrayed in the industry, identify core values you want to stand for, and ensure every member has a good understanding of these elements.
Are we consistent?
In order to resonate in consumers’ memories, you have to make an impression. One of the most effective ways you can make an impression is by having consistency between your products. Tide detergent is one of the greatest examples of this. You can spot the Tide detergent section from a mile away. In order for customers to easily identify your products, you have to have a unifying brand image between all products.
How do we make sure we stay on track with our branding?
As your company continues to grow, there will be many more cooks in the kitchen. Hence, many more opportunities for each cook to put their own twist to the ingredients, which may alter your brand image at the end of the day. That’s why, from the beginning, you must build a brand platform that every employee fully understands. This brand platform is the reference point to every message or campaign that is developed for many years to come. These are the 14 components of a brand platform that I highly recommend.
I cannot stress enough the importance of these questions in building an effective marketing campaign. Invest your time in order to have a clear understanding of these four players- management, consumers, competition, and brand identity. That way, you can make sure you have searched under every rock and haven’t missed any opportunities. By the way, if you are currently a player in the medical device industry and are searching for a more thorough go-to-market process, check out my Medical Device 101 seminar for a step-by-step guide to building a sustainable brand and a successful marketing campaign in today’s medical device industry.