The entry to the commercialization phase of the Customer Intimacy Journey requires a re-evaluation of your Market Participation Strategy. This deals with which markets, which geographies, and which accounts we are trying to impact. The answer, of course, will include several over time. Remember, companies live in verticals, and understanding and expertise in those verticals is mandatory for success with them. During the forming phase of the journey much that is learned about these verticals should to be applied to this evaluation. The company may not be able to move as quickly as we first hoped, or markets that initially seemed important, now that we have some experience, seem less so. Also, with some success under our belts, we may be able to go after more jugular markets that better impact the broader organization. An example of one participation strategy (stated over simply for brevity's sake) could be - "we want to develop meaningful revenue in 100 accounts in Northern Europe that are currently non-accounts for us" or "for our top 100 accounts in North America in the construction vertical we want to increase our penetration by 32% and become the partner of choice for our vertical offerings."
As you can see, the participation strategy gives guidance to the effort, but would be unable to direct the HOW (outside of Intimacy Engine of course). The HOW is developed as you create the portfolio to fulfill the strategy. This effort is often minimized or overlooked entirely.
Like all things, it is important to know where you are going.
The next effort is to determine the market opportunities. We have introduced this topic before - it requires expertise in the market to truly complete this task. Also, this quality of information is rarely gathered through traditional market focused efforts (mainly because asking customers what they want by definition limits their view of their business). So how is this accomplished? A three dimensional point of view of the market, what is driving it (what will drive it), what true issues are being faced (and will be faced) must be developed. There is not space here to provide the output views that this effort creates, but I think we can discuss some of the sources of information.
- Interview the consulting firms that have meaningful sway in the market and glean from them their views of today and tomorrow.
- Visit universities that have centers dedicated to subsections of the market - gain insight into what they think and how it's being received.
- Conduct internet research on topics driving issues in the market
- Determine likely areas of interest, the experience you have gained, and find the experts in the businesses that work on those areas to gain an understanding of the business model drivers and cutting edge ideas being discussed.
Next, drive this information through a process of determining the following:
Create a solid document (more visual the better) of the business flows, its drivers, opportunities, and hurdles. We call these the Market Reality. It should be shopped and edited by taking it to the players in the market for validation and adding depth and reality.
Create some opinions as to who is best situated to take advantage of the Reality and build visuals comparing them, with support for why we think this. We call this the competitive landscape. This should not be shopped, but it will assist in how we target accounts.
Create the opportunities matrix. This will include: above the safety line opportunities (Intimacy Only Opportunities), pull through opportunities, and opportunities that don't fit us, but that we need to be aware of.
Put the opportunities through the idea evaluation model we have discussed before. This includes things like ability to deliver, fit in broader strategy, size of opportunities, etc.
Valuation of opportunities - we must be able to build a financial model of the opportunities, including intimacy impact (ability to pull through products) and absorption rates.
Now stop and determine where you are. Do you have a real understanding of the market? Do you have meaningful opportunities? Can you go forward and build a portfolio point of view?
If not yes to all, go back to the market understanding step and repeat until you have true opportunities and unique ideas that can differentiate your business.