Any solution to a commercial challenge begins with market research. So often we hear people wanting to jump right into marketing campaign execution (or worse yet, product development) without fully understanding the problem at hand, how they uniquely solve the problem and how to position their solution. Whether you’re performing this research yourself or through a trusted partner, always begin your marketing or product development project with discovery. You may not have the time or resources to do this piece fully but you must begin with the basics.
- Review internal documents (e.g., brand platform, business plan, P&L, balance sheet, etc.) to provide background and insights into current business environment, sales strategy and marketing objectives.
- Conduct structured interviews (at least 10-15) with key internal stakeholders, distributors/customers and prospective customers to gather collective insight into customer needs, wants, perceptions and preferences, and validate assumptions.
- Analyze competitive positioning/messaging to evaluate core competencies, understand market segmentation and commercial opportunities, identify gaps and provide a foundation to capitalize on strengths and competitive differentiators.
Once you’ve established a baseline, you can move into messaging and then execution.
Make sure everyone in your commercial team is working off the same playbook. The cornerstone of this playbook is the messaging platform. Some organizations also refer to this as the marketing platform or communications platform. Depending on your business you may have more detailed marching orders but the basics include:
- Market segmentation and SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
- Branding strategy
- Value proposition for product offering (by segment, if needed)
- Product messaging (product descriptions and benefit statements)
A Note about “Brand Guidelines”
We can’t count how many times we’ve asked for the messaging platform and been given the Brand Guidelines. Brand Guidelines are almost always a “How To” on using your brand identity. This is very important resource to keep visual design consistent and “on brand” but it is not the messaging platform.