Market Intelligence at Market Speed

Market speed is accelerating. Markets are changing at unprecedented rates. Six month old reports in certain computer and electronics fields are like ancient history and bear little on what is happening today. MySpace arises, Facebook takes over, Twitter challenges. iPhone, iTouch interfaces dramatically change user interface principles. To take 2-3 months on a survey is no longer acceptable in a preponderance of cases.How can a startup (taking one or two years to develop their proprietary product) or a small, medium or global company deal with this kind of rapid market change and the need for information in order to place investment bets in more productive outcomes, products and services?Most companies are not aware of tools and thinking that are currently available to help them not just react, but to anticipate what the next market shift is going to be.For example if a company is not tuned into the social media today, they are at the mercy of rumors and comments that are traveling around the Internet at fiber optic speed. Witness the disgruntled guitar player whose guitar was smashed by baggage handlers at United Airlines and who sang the song “United Breaks Guitars” to a viral YouTube audience of 200,000 people. Had United been in touch with their audience, they might have had a system in place that addressed customer complaints in a much more effective fashion, and avoided such an embarrassing — and who knows how costly — episode.

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So how do you keep tuned all the time? And is it even possible to do so? Today there are systems and ways of maintaining awareness of your audience that allow for constant 24/7 watchfulness — ALL the time.
Most crucially, constant audience contact is a requirement if managers are going to grow their business and compete in their market niche. CEOs and management need to be attuned to making all their decisions with fresh data that is not weeks and months old, but that is hours old.To work in today’s rapid fire environments an executive or middle manager or entrepreneur must have…
Market intelligence integrated into everyday thoughts and actions
Data that is up to date and being replenished daily.
Access to this data all the time, that is, when you need it, at any hour.
Easy, user-friendly access to this data.
Interactive access that allows managers to ask questions of the data.
Access that allows managers to compare and correlate market groups.
Textual data that ties into numerical data to provide reality checks.
If this type of thinking isn’t currently being taught in MBA curricula, Marketing Research courses, nor Marketing 101 classes in colleges and universities, it soon will be.Most managers think of managing people and products, with some thought to budgeting and using financial data to think about profit and loss. They often do not think of the power of using objective verifiable third-party audience intelligence data…
To support their decisions about how to improve profit and loss
To bring new products to market, or update current products
To motivate people who report to them with a deeper understanding of the true needs of their audience
To keep up with the changes and thinking inside their own companies
To order priorities of product enhancements based on customer needs
To support the customer by attending to and fixing problems
If managers have conducted research, it is likely addressing one part of their overall responsibility, either a product, or a special audience. And this research is from some time period past, so the data is old.
Managers must rethink what information and data they need to effectively improve products, make customers happier, bring in new customers, and improve profits. Market intelligence is one of the least costly and most effective ways to stay on course, yet managers think of it as a luxury, rather than a necessity, perhaps because their image of market research is stuck in the past, like “five pound reports” and “shelf-sitters”.

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So for starters, it is a grand change in thinking that is needed among many of the people who are acting on the enterprise’s frontlines. Managers need to learn that audience understanding is not a matter of statistics and once a year research nor seat-of-the-pants guesswork. It is a matter of immersing oneself in the details and data of why people like this or that, why they have problem with such and such, why they will pay for this characteristic and not pay for this other feature, how they learn about products and services, where they go to find out about what they need — in short how their customers think, act, and feel. And they should not be guessing about these things.In short, this is a continual daily endeavor, and there is no substitute for relentlessly pursuing audience information all the time. With this information foundation ALL management decisions get infused with a customer care and concern that audiences notice.