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How to stay on top of market changes, look for opportunities and build competitive advantage

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook sees Angela Hatton, marketing consultant, trainer and published author and MMC’s Rene Power discussing looking at market changes to find opportunities, communicating the value of marketing back to the board, understanding competitors and competitive advantage and the overlooked power of annual reports.

It’s the third part in a series of serialisations on marketing management, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Rene Power:

Yeah, I see that a lot in industrial sort of B2B manufacturing where you’ve got the leading lights in organisations are often the guys in the white coats. They’re tinkering with product, they’re working in the labs. Wherever you find them in an organisation but they’re the guys with the knowledge and the expertise and the experience.

And good marketers will tap into them and kind of turn them into rock stars, for the want for a better phrase. But you’re right, them and product development specialist type people, they run the risk of demoting marketing because they’re pushed up to the front, aren’t they?

Because they’ve got that knowledge. And you’re right, what they don’t necessarily have is the commercial thinking and the thinking about what this means for customers, what this means for the market.

Looking at market changes to find opportunities

Angela Hatton:

I think that’s right. Yeah and you started off by asking what marketers might be able to do. And I ask all of them at the moment, how many of them have thought to put a short, white paper together for their managing director about how markets might need to be re-segmented as a result of the COVID situation?

Now that depends what sector you’re in as to whether or not that is a significant factor but it was interesting. I was on a call earlier on which I mentioned to you, Rene, before we started with the Historic Houses Association which is a group that I’ve been helping. And just in the conversation, one of the stately homeowners said that they’d identified a new segment.

They actually used the language, they’ve identified a new segment of visitors to these houses and it is the “COVID fearful” because they don’t even want to take a ticket off you to go into the different bits of the place because they don’t want to touch the ticket. Now how big that segment is, how serious it is, it is an interesting question. But across a lot of these markets, the markets have changed as a result of that.

Rene Power:

But what that does is by asking the right questions and unearthing that as a little bit of insight, if you like, you can then decide, “Well how are we going to talk about that? How are we going to introduce that into our narrative and into the experience and the service in how we deliver this thing, so that people like that can be reassured?”

And they go and say, “Oh it was all fine and it was well catered for and well managed,” and you get positive reviews and similar people going back.
So it’s not just about using it in a communications perspective but it influences product and service design, doesn’t it?

Communicating the value of marketing back to the board

Angela Hatton:

It does. And I think my point is that many of the marketers I’ve met over the years have been, I guess, very reactive. Someone asks them, “Can you help with this?” And what they don’t do often enough is proactively position themselves with that strategic hat on by making that paper that goes round the board that says, “This is our observation. This is what’s happened in this sector, and I think there might be messages for us.”

The blue sky stuff sometimes but just to sort of say, “We’re not just here filling balloons and organising parties for the customers. Actually, we are the people looking further ahead, and we’re important.”

Rene Power:

I think it’s a nice idea that and there are in lots of different sectors. Well you’ve got ONS, the Office of National Statistics, people like that where you can go and get general data about trends and things.

But then in most vertical sectors there’s various states of the nation things put out at various times of the year that you could tap into and extrapolate that together and go and look at what some of the big players in any market are saying and talking about.

And you’re right, turning that into a piece of well informed material, almost like a briefing document or a white paper that, you intimated it would be for the C-Suite and the strategic team to make decisions on.

But also as a potentially customer facing piece as well. It just shows that you’re exercising a lot more of this.

Angela Hatton:

That’s right.

Rene Power:

And I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? That’s one of the biggest things you can do.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah.

Understanding competitors and competitive advantage

Rene Power:

Brilliant. What other sorts of things could early to mid-level marketers in organisations be thinking about doing to maybe bring some value to their organisations?

Angela Hatton: