The pace of change in the marketplace can be downright overwhelming. We’re talking technological changes disrupting industries, economic highs and lows and ever-rising customer expectations. Entire industries, such as taxis, didn’t see it coming and were clobbered. How do companies compete with all this market change and digital transformation seemingly working against them?
“As companies, our goal is to develop strong, meaningful relationships with our clients. But the digital change is so fast today, everyone is vulnerable to it,” said Nile Kirec, a Florida SBDC at FIU consultant specializing in strategic marketing. “It’s super challenging to marketing professionals as well — customer expectations are changing rapidly. Fortunately, there are some great technologies available to help monitor it.”
However, she said, the ability of the company to shift is very important. Kirec suggests researching the market – and your position in it — regularly.
“Do the SWOT analysis – analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Refine and reshape your strategies and try to understand the values of the customer. What are they looking for? Shift from only providing products to providing solutions,” she said. “Customer-centric companies already do this this very well.”
“Successful companies have made their customers the center of their operations. That gives them an edge,” added Kirec. “They are ahead of the curve because they can define what is happening, and because they are on the watch, they can see the transition, and they are able to make the shift.”
Tak Takasu, a strategy analyst with a background in consulting and market research, offered some great suggestions on how to keep an eye on your marketplace. It’s all about competitive intelligence – and you don’t need a separate department like the big companies have or outsource a firm to do this.
“Every day, keep an eye on your competitive landscape because anything can change. Write down what you see and what you hear — you want to find a pattern,” explains Takasu, who is a consultant for Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within FIU’s College of Business.
A good monitoring system doesn’t have to be formal. Have a log of what you hear about your industry and your competitors, and collect news and trade articles. Ask others in the industry what they are seeing. That collective intelligence could help you foresee something. People network, they talk, they know.
Don’t do this in a silo. Your employees can be the eyes and ears that help sense that market changing. “Be systematic about viewing and logging in anything about what’s happening with your competition, your suppliers, your partners,” Takasu said. “It’s an organic process about always keeping your antennas up.”
As the market is starting to change, consider what might happen – forecast best case to worst case scenarios and put numbers to them. That way you will be better prepared mentally to make the shifts needed, whether it’s creating a new revenue stream, targeting a different market, or revamping the whole business model.
“That mental process will hopefully help you run your business better,” said Takasu. “You will be better prepared and you can better monitor your progress and make adjustments as you need.”
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Editor’s note: This post was first published in 2018