What is your market IQ?
Jan 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Rick Weber
“Competitive intelligence doesn't have to be nasty, mean stuff. It can be something as simple as knowing that for every county government in the US — and it's probably true for provincial governments in Canada — when a company puts a plant somewhere, it has to file a certain amount of information with the local government: size of plant, amount of water, and electricity they expect to use. Those are some pretty interesting numbers.
Latin-Kasper said that you can't do market planning without segmenting the markets — and that's done by product line, application market, and geography.
“Why would you go through all of that?” he said. “If for no other reason than you only need one to make it worth it. You want to put those sales resources where they can provide the biggest bang they can for the buck. You need the support of the corporate culture. Your plan has to fit the culture. You're providing management with tools they need to describe the company to outsiders. Who are the outsiders you care most about? The customer. The application market. When ownership and management gets involved in sales, it's not just the sales guys. Especially people at the top need to understand what's going on with the market plan. They have to understand why.”
He said that positioning the company's products is important, and it's done through advertising and networking.
“You build a plan that facilitates a market-oriented decision regarding your new products and competition,” he said. “Sometimes the best way to grow your own company is to buy someone else's. Sometimes that's the best way to move from number four in terms of your ranking. Have cash on hand. Don't spend money just because you have it. Set it aside for that rainy day — especially when a recession occurs and there are good sales prices on companies.
“Develop tactics for selling. There are two ways to look at it: New products in established markets or established products in new markets. Which niche do I want to play in? Do that for each product.”
He offered a variety of data sources:
Census of Manufacturers (industry, product class, and product line data dollars) and Census of Wholesale Trade (industry, kind of business, and commodity line data dollars).
“The Census of Wholesale Trade is conducted every five years, and it provides benchmark data for market size and share, plus data available nowhere else, such as employee totals, capital expenditures, costs of materials, energy expenditures, establishment counts and more,” he said. “It's the Holy Grail of US economic information.”
Go to “economic census,” “guide,” “schedule,” “industry series and manufacturing,” then click on “transportation equipment manufacturing.”
“You can pull up a file and get information you can use as performance benchmarks. Ask yourself, ‘Am I keeping up? Or am I not keeping up?’ If you're falling behind the rest of the industry in terms of the technology you're using inside the plant, that's not a good thing. You should have some basic level of understanding of how much the rest of the industry is investing in technology. This is the benchmark information that any market-planning process would start with. It's especially good because every company in the US is required to respond to this survey every five years. It's mandatory. You don't get to choose. Because it's too important.”
Annual Survey of Manufacturers. This is industry and product class totals only, in dollars.
Foreign Trade Data. This details exports and imports published separately on DVD monthly, in dollars and units by country.
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