Are you mad? Choose your markets well

Cheshire cat

The ‘Value Proposition Builder’ has six phases, or inputs, that lead to the creation of your Value Proposition, the output of which can be a statement, a full template or a range of high level messaging which is then used as the internal ‘blueprints’ for all your sales and marketing communication.

This first Market phase answers the question, “Who is most likely to buy your product/service?”

Don’t be mad, choose your markets well

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' said Alice.
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.' said the Cheshire Cat.
`I don’t much care where…‘ said Alice.
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cheshire Cat.
`…so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cheshire Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’
Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. `What sort of people live about here?
`In that direction,‘ the Cheshire Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,’ waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.’
`But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
`Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cheshire Cat: `we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.
`How do you know I’m mad?‘ said Alice.
`You must be,’ said the Cheshire Cat, `or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Start by defining the specific group of customers to target, focus at this phase is crucial, look to remove sectors or customer target groups rather than add more in. You won’t lose opportunities just because you’ve dropped a few sectors. Focus will help you to hone your value more.

Questions to ask include:
• Where does your organisation figure in the marketplace, in your ‘competitive set’? Is it where you want to be? If not, where would you like to be?
• Which markets or customer types offer the best opportunities for profitable growth?
• Who are the specific group of customers you are targeting? Can you identify different buyer personas?
• What are the customer needs? What are their loves and hates?
• Are there discrete market segments?
• What risks do the customers perceive when choosing you?
• What’s going on in your target market segments, or with your personas? What’s hot? What’s not?

Narrow and deep beats broad and shallow – focus allows you to identify the difference between being totally opportunistic and having a well planned, and therefore more successful approach to creating your value proposition. Deciding that you will only proactively target 5 market segments, as a strategic decision, doesn’t have to stop you refusing the bluebird sales opportunities that just fly in the window from nowhere, in other non-target segments. As the Cheshire Cat says “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path with get you there.”

Understand how to enter those markets
When you’ve decided on your key markets, then start to think about what channels you will use to enter those markets. A cautionary note here is not to be too creative. If you are having success already with a few key clients then focus on how to get more like them, and in similar market sectors and not diversify off into other new markets or into new products.

So in summary:
• Define your markets
• Map your markets
• Understand who the decision makers in your markets are and what they purchase
• Understand why decision makers purchase (how to meet their needs)
• Form market segments that work for you by combining like-minded decision makers
• Create personas based on groups of different buying types

Critical Thinking
In this ‘Market’ stage of the Value Proposition Builder insure your analysis avoids paralysis by analysis. You need to grasp what’s actually going on out there and take a view about you available markets and suitable channels for you.
Once you have identified those areas of the market where you do or can create value for your customers, you must spend time with your typical customers who can articulate what that value actually is, in detail. In the next ‘episode’, we’ll examine precisely that step in the process.

What’s your experience of focusing on a market, a sector, a segment or a persona? Has this been better or worse for you that trying to go after everything that moves?