Keep Your Strategic Plan Market-Focused - dummies

By Erica Olsen

The process of researching, segmenting, targeting, and reaching new customers doesn’t need to be something you do only when you’re focused on finding new customers. In fact, world-class companies have made being market-focused a habit. Being market-focused means taking marketing activities out of just the marketing department and away from initiatives. It means making marketing part of everyone’s job.

The key to being market-focused is continuously gathering relevant information about your customers and your market. Most likely, you already gather a significant amount of customer information in meetings and discussions with customers and distributors, from sales reports, through databases, and so on.

When you gather this info, you have to do something with it. Take these tips to heart:

  • Start collecting the info in a systematic fashion by making a group marketing storage unit, such as a physical filing cabinet or a file on your company server.

  • Scan the environment for information about government regulation and policies, technological changes, partners and competitors and their activities, and future industry trends. Continual environmental scanning allows you to stay proactive, taking advantage of shifts as they happen, instead of being reactive, and scrambling to keep up.

  • Sources for info include trade publications, industry events, and your local network. Consider doing this scan quarterly or semi-annually.

The information you gather should be regularly compiled in a usable form and then shared with employees in various ways. These sharing avenues can include

  • Brown-bag lunches

  • Company blogs

  • Company newsletters

  • Customer and market databases

  • Forums

  • Informal meetings

  • Internal message postings

  • Staff meetings

Intelligence needs to be communicated clearly, continuously, and appropriately so your staff can strategically respond to the needs of the market.

Responding to your market is critical to being market-focused. You can generate information and communicate it internally, but unless you respond to market needs, nothing gets accomplished. To be sustainable, your company needs to be driven by the following:

  • An understanding of what your customers want

  • The knowledge of how to meet the customers’ needs

  • The delivery of the product or service customers want

You may already be doing most of these activities. Great job! If you aren’t, that’s okay. Take some action to formalize your process. Studies show that companies that link these activities together achieve greater levels of performance when compared to their competitors. A company that increases its market focus by 10 percent can see a growth of between 17 and 20 percent in overall performance.

Want to evaluate how market-focused your firm is? Check out this free, online assessment tool.