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Affordable Intelligence

Affordable Intelligence






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  • Welcome everyone and thank you for participating in today’s webinar – Market Intelligence: An Introduction to Affordable Tricks and Tools for Learning New Markets and Increasing Insight into Key Accounts, Prospects and Technologies.My name is Steve Thomson and I am principal of Thomson and Associates, a local market intelligence and strategy consulting firm.Today I’m going to try and share some quick tips about how to seek out better information on your potential customers, partners and competitors so you can do a better job at sales and marketing and partner building.Our focus today is on ‘Affordable Solutions’ -- things that you can do tomorrow for free, or very moderate cost, as opposed to commissioning expense of research projects, or going without information which can be an even costlier mistake.We think this approach is very relevant to many companies in the BC Technology Industry as the industry is comprised of relatively small companies often seeking to sell into larger enterprises, and either partner with larger partners - the 800 pound gorillas - or compete against the larger, better resourced incumbents.In our overview today, we’re going to spend a considerable amount of the time, just reminding ourselves about how to gather information, analyze it properly and disseminate it properly to those who need it.It’s not rocket science, but I do hope to leave you with a few ‘A-ha’s’ and ‘Oh-ya’s’ – what a friend of mine refers to as BGO’s – Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious.
  • I thought it would be good to start with a quick definition of Market Intelligence.It’s actually an amalgam of tools and disciplines which gathers information (data) from a variety of sources, and reshapes it into intelligence which you can then use to drive your business forward – at the strategic level, at the tactical level, and at operational levels.Therefore, Market Intelligence often includes:Internal information – often referred to as Business IntelligenceTraditional Market Research – Primary quantitative and qualitative information gatheringCompetitor Analysis – The systematic analysis of your competitors and their products (also known as Competitive Intelligence or CI). On a technical level, this often involves Competitive Technical Intelligence or CTI.And,Market Analysis – The system analysis of markets and trendsAs a community of practitioners, it’s a fascinating group that is comprised of people from a number of backgrounds, each with their own niche and specialization. I have colleagues in the industry who focus on patents and intellectual property, and colleagues who focus on things like trends and fads, and colleagues who focus It’s an interesting environment where people with backgrounds in areas like marketing, strategy, intellectual property, and corporate librarians mix with people who come from formal intelligence gathering backgrounds, such as military intelligence.What it’s not is Corporate Espionage. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) involve deceit or criminal activities.
  • While the benefits of increasing transparency and insight are probably self-evident,we’ll touch on them quickly.By seeking better information on your markets, you can better position your products and services in the marketplace.By seeking better information on your competitors you can react faster and more importantly outflank them to win new business.And by seeking better insight into your key prospects and key partners, you can catch more appropriate products and services and expedite the sale. Or, you can triage your prospects for better management of your limited resources.
  • Which leads us to our first tip – Share Your Intelligence!Ignore the old adage that knowledge is power. Don’t hoard information, share it so we can be used.Your insights are of no use if they can’t be actioned by the right people whether they be: Product managers; Account executives; or, Your executive team
  • Before you start any Market Intelligence projects though, scope your project! Focus! Focus! Focus!An industry rule of thumb is that 20% of your work should be in scoping the requirements correctly.You need to avoid situations where you get into Analysis Paralysis where you’ve inundated yourself with information such that you’ll never climb out of it.Start by defining ‘Actionable’ Requirements. Sort-out the information that you Need to Have from the information that it would be nice to have.Continually ask yourself, if I collect that data, what am I going to do with it?
  • Related to focus, is the needto continually reality-check how finely-detailed you need to get.Always watch that you’re not wasting too much time trying to get to accurate. Know when to say “that’s good enough”.You want to get to what MI professionalscall the ‘SWAG’ – The Scientific Wild-Ass Guess. Ask yourself when you think you’re there that if you’re X percent out on your analysis, does it affect my recommendation? If it doesn’t, you’re likely close enough. Time to move on.Also, Always try to triangulate your results by trying to get to the same estimate from two or three different directions. If you can, then you’re in the right ballpark.
  • Our next tip is probably painfully obvious, but it needs to be said:As you seek information, continually ask yourself the 5 W’s that you learned way back in Elementary School. Ultimately it’s the ‘WHY’ that will lead you to the understanding of how you can react to the competitive situation.Related to that, think like a 3-year old. Keep asking WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?It has been said that you can get to any answer by asking why 5 times, and surprising it often works.I’ll readily admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in elementary school… but I still find myself scribbling the 5 W’s and the 5 Y’s in the margin when I’m working on business problems.
  • Of course to start analyzing and understanding others, you need to understand your own situation first.So where can you find information on yourself? These are many of the first places you should look for information on your targets too – after all you’re in the same industry space, right?Can’t find information on yourself? Guess what, neither can you customers! And that’s a key finding too.Understand the background and history of where your people have come from:Your management team;Your board;Your line staffYou can do well to simply seek information from them - after all there is a reason they’re on your team. Where did they come from? Competitors, clients, or somewhere else in the industry?And finally, understand how your business performs.How does it make its money? How does it get to market? What are your key ratios?It’s hard the benchmark how similar or different you are from others if you don’t understand your own business first.
  • This next point is really tough for many companies – particularly new start-ups.No matter what you think, you’re not really that unique as a company. You may be the only red apple in the market, but you’re probably not the only apple.Unless, you’ve created a time machine, or something that breaks the rules of physics as we know them, chances are that someone else, somewhere else, has done something similar, at some other time. And that’s ok!No matter how nascent or merging your technology or market is, there are undoubtedly a number of industry associations, conferences, standards bodies, market analysts and consultants (including bloggers) who follow your market - at least peripherally.These are all great people and places to seek-out information because they show affinity.Association membership lists show you the companies that have self-selected as having affinity towards your market.Conferences typically have exhibitors and sponsors who have self identified themselves as having affinity and who’ve paid to be there! Conference speakers are people who others have already identified as having some expertise in this space and therefore are likely worth listening to. Tradeshows in general, are some of the the best sources of information because they bring everyone together – customers, suppliers, analysts, experts, media. We could spend a whole day just on the field of tradeshow intelligence, and hopefully we will visit it in a future webinar.Standards body committees also include people who have some interest in monitoring the space and its progress, if they’re not directly affecting the technology behind the market.And of course there is always a bunch of analysts, consultants and now bloggers you want to show how smart they are by providing at least a base level of information for free. Be mindful though, these people trade in intelligence, and you’ll likely need to give up some, to get some. Prepare yourself accordingly before these interviews.
  • Before you get too far in your market intelligence, you need to understand your industry value chain or ecosystem.These are all of the partners that make up the market (either as direct participants or as influencers) – the ecosystem.As well as all of the partners that are involved in getting products and services to the end consumer – the value chain.These parties are all direct and indirect sources of information that can help build your understanding the market.A cool tool that I like to use when mapping the ecosystem of a new market is Mindmapping software. And there are a number of affordable tools on the market (including Microsoft Visio which you may already have). My current favourite is Mindmapper from MindJet. MindJet.comAs you surf through your intelligence process, you can continually branch-out with new Market segments, Technologies, Companies, and Influencers as you encounter them. Most mind-mapping software also let’s you quickly move things around also as you start to build a better picture of your industry and its players.The best tools on the market, also let you embed additional information onto each branch of the mindmap, such as pictures, or URL’s to let you develop a really great view.
  • This next tip is very tactical-create a small standard outline (I suggest two pages) that profile the 10, 20 or 50 (if you’re very ambitious) key prospects in the market.These profiles vary depending on your specific end-use (generating a sale or creating a channel partnership) but ultimately capture a short profile of your target: Key contact information; A profile of existing technology and partners you may have to integrate with; and a, Competitive profile of others who are likely to be pitching the same client and how they might be (or are) doing it.In total, you want to create a short summary that outlines: Who the target is; What their issue is; How you might solve the issue; and, Who and what you be competing against for the winBy creating a short summary, it can be easily shipped around to those who need the information or who can contribute to rounding out the picture.While it would be nice to have all of this information in a CRM system, at a minimum, get it down on paper, and into a filefolder.The key here is to make the information easy to share throughout your organization so that everyone can use the information appropriately, and layer in their own intelligence as well.
  • Along with the key account profile also consider creating organization charts for your prospects.Don’t chart the whole company, just those individuals, departments, internal committees that you have to pass through as you selling to the organization.By identifying who the individuals are, you can keep the sale moving – always talking to the next people in the chain.By identifying who the individuals are, you can research and better understand their motivations city can also tailor your pitches step by step.
  • To help you profile your targets you can buy access to a number of tools like Hoovers or Factiva. These are data products that have already created high-level profiles for millions of companies across North America and the world.There are also a number of online trade journals to which you can buy archive access or buy article reprints.Alternatively,you can visit your local public and university libraries to get free access to many of these services. Due to licensing restrictions, you often have to use these services on-site (like the UBC library or the downtown campuses like SFU Harbour Centre). However depending on University, you may have remote access as an alumnus, or if you’re currently taking a course there.Also, some libraries like VPL have fee-for-service research services. These are great if you have small jobs and you need some information pulled together.
  • But most importantly, despite all the benefits of online tools, your most important tactic is to talk to people.They say that over 80% of the information that you seek is already internal, or close to you. So talk to everyone. Your management, your sales team or sales colleagues, your partners and suppliers, your customers and your investors, family and friends.When I say talk to people, I really mean, ask questions and listen to people.A good rule of thumb that I like to use is that you have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. Do try and use them in that proportion.
  • When talking to people, think about talking to people who are in the same boat as you. While you usually want to avoid talking to direct competitors (particularly over things like price, which is illegal), find others who are supplying products to the same customers.These people can provide a great amount of detail with respect to the length and process of procurement at the company, and may have some insight into important gatekeepers and decision-maker that you need to be mindful of.
  • Of course, you can find lots of free information online using Google. Just remember not to rely only on Google because while I have access to live information there is still a lot they can’t access.When using Google, also learn how to be more advanced searches to find the information you seek more conveniently.Always use a least three words to narrow your searches and use it for a few different tax to ensure you’re looking at the results from all angles. Also take note of the paid advertising when you’re searching. These are often put there by competitors or potential partners trying to reach the same market you’re researching.Don’t be afraid to go beyond the first results page-the real gold is often on page 2, 3 or 4 but it’s hidden within less relevant results.Search on given names or where you have it, e-mail addresses and given names. This is always a great idea when you have that half-filled lead form that you’re needing to respond to.And remember, try other search engines too. Google is the king, but others like you have to or Microsoft live search can give you different or better results. Also use specialized search engines like ZoomInfo or LinkedIn or Jigsaw or even Facebook..
  • Which leads us to some of our favorite tools like ZoomInfo.Zoominfo is a site that spiders the Web and pulls out everything that looks like corporate or personal biography information and aggregates it into company and personal profiles using their artificial intelligence engine.This is a great tool for understanding where your targets of come from and what their motivators might be. It’s also a great lead generation tool. ZoomInfo provides a free tool, a $99 per month tool, and a multi-thousand dollar subscription.
  • LinkedIn is also great tool for learning about specific individuals.You need to be a member and need to be connected to others for this tool to be effective but it can provide some valuable insight that is provided by the targets themselves.You can also ask questions of experts and get answers back.LinkedIn Groups are also great for finding people with an affinity to the market or subject you are targetting.
  • Another great contact tool is Jigsaw. Jigsaw started as a business card exchange and I like it for finding those “tough to find” individuals within organizations. Specifically, it’s great for bypassing the gatekeeper and providing direct contact information for your target.Pricing starts at $25 a month or you can get one contact for every new contact you put in.They also have a service where you can submit lists and for a fee they’ll append the contact information with data that you don’t have.
  • There are also new aggregators coming into the market. These new tools continue to reach into other sources to pull more information together.One of these tools is PIPL. Another is InsideView.
  • Of course another familiar tool, but probably used in an unfamiliar way, is monster.com and other job sites.I like to use these to setup job alerts within an industry or a company.Hiring is great insight window into an organization as it gives an indication of growth-including who, what and where. From a ‘when’ perspective, hiring is often an early warning of intent.If they’re hiring someone to run a division they don’t have, then there’s a good chance they’re going to create it.
  • Generally, when sourcing information, follow the money!Where money changes hands, information is exchanged too.The available information tends to depend on the type of transaction, but common places to watch are Mergers and Acquisitions and Funding Announcements.Hiring and Layoff noticesLarge capital purchases or services arrangements, like IT purchase orders, or real estate transactionsAlso:Don’t forget to check out Patent Assignments – what intellectual property, and from whom are your target acquiring?
  • When following the money, you’ll learn to love public filings!Regulated companies, and public companies tend to leave big paper trails. But it also means a lot of data to sort through.Look for key activities – key announcements that suggest a change in direction. Changes in key metrics that suggest a shift in how the company is structured.It’s really important to take a linear view – don’t just look at today. It takes two and ideally three points to create a trend line, so, since you can’t look forward, look backward to see where the company has come from. This should help you understand where they are going.Always watch for change…NEXT SLIDE
  • Change is Good! It suggests something is in play.So watch changes in People, Position, Corporate Structure and Financial Benchmarks.
  • Which brings me to another favourite tool – the wayback machine. The wayback machine is a website which archives other websites over time. This allows you to check-out your target over time. Again, by better understanding where your target has come from,you can better understand where they might be going.I also like this tool for helping to understand corporate stability. So I tend to look for things like positioning language, new and obsolete products, and staff turnover.
  • ROB
  • There are a number of events which can act as early warning signals that a change is coming.One area to watch is intellectual property – particularly the registration of trademarks, patents and increasingly URL’s.These are events that happen pre-launch but which signal and give indication of what is likely to occur in the future.These events may not be a direct signal of an impending change, they can also be a defensive manoeuvre where a company is trying to block what they see as a potential threat – again this helps signal areas that you can move on.
  • With respect to intellectual property, another cool free tools is freepatentsonline, and I’ll let you guess what they do...Patents can be tricky. If they’re important to your company, I would recommend a more formal delve into Competitive Technical Intelligence, and ideally hiring professionals to assist you.
  • To help you analyze your intelligence, I strongly recommend people get to know Micheal Porter’s Five Forces model. It’s really a great model for understanding markets, and helping companies to drive strategies to position and survive in their market.This is a tool that I often use to help me understand a market and how competitive forces might react to situations.
  • Lastly, I wouldn’t be a vendor, if I didn’t make a shameless pitch at the end.So let me remind you, when in doubt, or when shorthanded, hire a professional.Maybe it’s just some help gathering key account profiles.Maybe it’s a detailed analysis of competitors patents or their production cost structures.Or maybe it’s helping you out with a tradeshow intelligence. Tradeshows are the one time and place where you can gather the most information – but they’re also the time and place where you’re typically busy marketing and selling.Regardless, some of these tasks do require specialized skills. Others are just mind-numbingly tedious. So manage your resources wisely.Also keep in mind that external professionals can often gather information that you can’t, because we can talk to people (like your competitors) more easily.And with that, Thank you.
  • STEVEQuestions:What is the biggest question you’re trying to answer with your prospects, partners, competitors or markets?Does anyone else have cool tricks they’d like to share?How do you share the information that you gather internally with your colleagues?

Affordable Intelligence Affordable Intelligence Presentation Transcript

  • Steve Thomson, Principal www.thomsonconsulting.caThomson & Associates 778-371-8963
  • What is Market Intelligence? Market Business Research Intelligence Feeds: Strategy Tactics Operations MarketCompetitor Analysis Analysis
  • Benefits of Increased Transparency • Position company and Markets products • React faster Competitors • Outflank competitors • Deliver appropriate productsKey Accounts • Triage for better resource management
  • Share IntelligenceDon‟t Horde,Share!Information needsto be actioned tobe valuable
  • Scope It! • Define „Actionable‟ Requirements Focus your • Avoid Analysis data Paralysis collection • Need to Have vs. Nice to Have
  • SWAG: Scientific Wild-Ass GuessDon‟t Try to • “If I‟m 10%, 20% or 50%Get Too out, does it change myAccurate recommendation?” • Try to get to the sameTriangulateYour Results estimate from 2 or 3 directions.
  • The Five W‟s and the 5 Why‟s Why
  • Know Thyself FirstInformation Internal PerformanceSources Resources What metrics doWhere is your Where have your you use?company? people come • business model, from? delivery channels, key• directories, ratios associations, • competitors, clients, conferences, partner suppliers, academia sites
  • You‟re Not the OnlyCompany in Your Market • Industry associations Search Out • Conferences Industry • Standards Resources bodies • Market analysts and consultants
  • Industry Value Chain / Ecosystem Value Chain EcosystemStandards Device Operating Bodies Manufacturer Systems Technology Partners Enterprise Legacy Software System Distributors System Suppliers Handset Software Integrators You Standards Integration Bodies/ Partners Regulators Telcos Retailers Consumers
  • Key Account Profiles Easy to Share/UpdateCorporate Technology CompetitiveDescription Profile Profile• Profile • Legacy systems • Who• Contact info • Integration • What• “Pain” partners • Why • How
  • Organization ChartsWho do you Aliceneed to talk to? o Decision Maker o IT Influencer o ROI Influencer Bob Charlie o RecommenderWhat are their Doug Frankmotivations? Ernie
  • Love Your Local Libraries Free Access to Premium • Hoover‟s, Factiva, online Information trade journals Sources Fee-for-Service • Vancouver Public Library Research Services InfoAction
  • Talk to People • Company • Management • Sales Team • Investors 80% of the Information Sought • Customers Is Often at Hand • Partners • Suppliers
  • Share with Others in the Same Boat • How long do sales take? Talk to Others • What is the Working with the process? Same Clients • Who are the (Avoid direct competitors) gatekeepers and decision makers?
  • Google Is Your Friend… But Not Your Only Friend • Use at least 3 words Learn • Go beyond the first results pageAdvanced • Try phone numbers, email addresses and Search given namesTechniquesTry Other • Bing, Zoominfo, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Facebook Search Enginesand Tools
  • Favourite Tools www.zoominfo.comAggregatesinformationon peopleandcompanies(on Internet)Exportcontact andprofileinformation
  • Favourite Tools www.linkedin.comLeverage yournetworkAsk questionsof “experts”Find “hidden”resourcesBetterunderstandyour prospectsThe bigger your network, the more effective this tool becomes
  • Favourite Tools www.jigsaw.comBusiness cardexchangeFind directcontacts andavoid thegatekeepersUse to updateyour CRM files
  • Favourite Tools www.pipl.comAggregatesinformationon peopleFocuses on„Deep Web‟
  • Favourite Tools www.monster.comSet up alertemails tomonitor jobpostings in yourindustry
  • Think Big Fish, Small Pond • Local newspapers Look WhereYour Target Is a • Trade Big Fish journals • Associations
  • Follow the Money Where $$$ Changes Hands, So Does Information LargeM&A and Hirings and Purchases PatentFinancing Layoffs • Customer Assignments Events purchase orders • Real estate
  • Enjoy Public Filings • Management Rich discussion and analysis source of • Key announcements information • Key metrics View over time • Sense of direction
  • Change Is Good Always look for changes; they suggest something is in play • New management team or board members People • New partners and clients • New languagePositioning • New products and product directions • M&A events, new plants and officesStructure • Corporate realignments • Gross margins, EBITDA, key ratiosFinancials • Funding
  • Favourite Tools www.archive.orgUnderstandwhere yourclient/competitorhas come fromComparehistoricalsnapshots toestablish trendingWatch marketpositioning,language,products, staffturnover
  • Favourite Tools www.watchthatpage.comTrack Changes onTarget PagesWatch changesin companynews,marketpositioning,language,products, staffturnover
  • Watch Trademarks and PatentsGreat Source for Early Warning Often outline intent long before it becomes reality
  • Favourite Tools www.freepatentsonline.comSearch yourindustry forrecent patentfilingsUnderstand thepeople behindthe technologiesfor strategicrecruiting
  • Learn Porter‟s Five Forces New Entrants Threat of Bargaining Bargaining Power of Jockeying For Position Power of Suppliers Among Competitors Customers Products or Substitute Services
  • When in Doubt, Hire a Professional • Manage your resources wisely Don‟t Be Shy • Some work is better done by external experts
  • For More Information Steve Thomson Thomson & Associates www.thomsonconsulting.ca 778-371-8963