Developing a successful marketing strategy : the marketplace

Last week I started to share my thoughts on developing a marketing strategy.

For me it starts with thinking, and then moves into delivery.


I started with the Customer Review.  I covered the first and arguably most important topic in my last blog – Customer insight.  Now I will move on to assessing your marketplace;

Customer Review

The building of the concrete foundations in 7 stages;

  1. Customer insight ✓
  2. The marketplace 
  3. Critique the current strategy
  4. Identify and critique your enemies
  5. Critique your current/planned offer in detail: Product / Service / Channel
  6. Pricing Review
  7. Futurology

2. Analysing the marketplace(s) you are in


  • To really understand the big picture, the significant changes affecting your target customers and the wider market
  • To understand if the same market is being addressed differently elsewhere
  • To understand the macro economic environment and then drill down
  • To understand the impact of technology, media changes, new channels, legislation and consumer trends
  • To place your offer in context of the ‘marketplace for the offer’ as well as the wider marketplace that consumers will experience


  • My start point is always a qualitative marketplace audit.  In this model the macro view should focus on the general economic situation, taxes, new media, new distribution channels, new technology, legislative change and so on.  Then get tighter and try to bring to life any channel shifts that affect you and your competitors equally e.g. the recent EU Gender Directive in Insurance.  This is the market-wide ring. Then finally assess the direct impact for your business alone – short term and long term – but just you.
Marketplace audit visual

Marketplace audit visual

  • This leads nicely into the next step …
  • … a PESTLE  and overlay a SWOT into it to drive some conclusions out
PESTLE with a SWOT overlay

PESTLE with a SWOT overlay

  • It is important to identify the key market trends – are there elements to the market that you like and some you don’t?  A Boston Matrix still works for me

Boston Matrix – Wikipedia

  • I also like the GE/McKinsey model – which gives you an “invest or not read”.  Do you actually have any opportunity left in your market?

GE/Mckinsey Model – just replace Industry with Market

  • NB: both of these tools are quite old, but I have used both in anger and find them helpful, simple ways to assess opportunities.  They are a staple of marketing training … don’t forget them !
  • Map past sales and attrition over a number of years to show seasonality – and overlay any market trends you can get to see if your brand behaves differently.  I indexed sales to a rolling three month average in the past to try and eliminate spikes of spend – but mapping your sales to your spend, then to market spend is essential in giving a view of your activity in your marketplace context.  You will know how best to visualise this
  • Examine competitors strategies (more of that later, but here) look at ATL vs BTL strategies and the impact on their market share
  • In short try and use these tools to drive out critical views on your brand in the market.  I did an exercise last week which may be a tool I use in the future:  Ask yourself what would convince someone to buy my brand?  Then reverse brainstorm it and ask yourself why would they not.
  • Look to other countries for inspiration too – the internet is your best friend here, it used to be expensive to commission that research, now it is just a click away – for lists of like companies, ask your trade bodies for their counterparts in the countries you want to look at, they should save you some time
  • Market prices should be assessed quickly at this stage.  If prices are falling and squeezing margins then look deeper into why that is happening and assess if it is you, a sector of the market or the whole market.  Can you buck the trend, realistically?
  • Market sustainability assessments need to be made at this stage.  What has fallen out of favour with customers vs what lines have been stopped.  A good example of a market shift here has been the flight to fixed term savings accounts from variable rate ones – a factor that would have been picked up in the PESTLE – as a consequence of record low base rate in the UK.
  • Finally do a sense check of why new entrants have entered the market – what did they say in their press releases and then reverse this and look at why companies have consolidated or left the market or exited product lines in your market


  • A view on emerging trends you can exploit/or should be wary of that mean something to consumers – remember to view this with your brand eyes and the eyes of your customers
  • Prioritised views of attractive market sectors and what you need to succeed in them with a preliminary view of which market segments may be growing and at what times of the year to begin the journey of focusing your marketing investment
  • A start point for your risk assessment of the strategy you will recommend

I hope you continue to find my thoughts useful … let me know what you think as always, leave me a comment or two.  I am pleased with the number of boxy charts I have managed to weave into this blog too – sorry, it often happens !

Part 3 on critiquing your existing strategy to follow next week


28 March 2013

PS – Happy Easter !

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One thought on “Developing a successful marketing strategy : the marketplace

  1. […] Tool 1 – Analysing the marketplace and your place within it […]

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