Developing a Competitive Landscape Map ("CLM") is a very important early step in developing your market entry strategy and getting other people to understand it.
Competitive advantage through positioning your company and product is the
thing that will make or break your ability to grow rapidly.
Steps to Developing A Successful Market Entry Strategy:
SIMPLE CLM SAMPLE #1 - The levels and dimensions here are somewhat arbitrary and will be different for each space and set of competitors, but price and quality are two dimensions that impact almost every market space, expect raw commodities which are not discussed here. A simple example showing the automotive industry as rated by consumer reports might look something like this (not real data, only for illustrative purposes):
Other variables and CLMs to develop for entering this market might include:
All of these can be looked at against each other, or against price. These different looks will systematize what an excellent marketer will do in their head by submerging in the market data.
A MORE COMPLEX SAMPLE CLM #2 - This landscape map for the content management space in 2001. This is a market that has many more variables and very complex products, but these variables can be broken down into more maps. The arrows indicate the direction the companies seem to be moving in the market while evolving their product(s) and/or acquiring competitors to broaden their product line.
Once this map is developed it becomes easy to see spaces (customer segments) that are not served by competitors. What does that mean? Well it means there is a group of customers out there, who hopefully you can identify by profile, who would want the exact product you could offer over any competitor. This means with these customers you have the advantage and can probably maintain your price and not go into a beauty contest with every customer bid. This means when you initially enter the market, when you are weakest, you can:
Focus your sales efforts on a manageable number of high yield target customers
Remember, every day you run your company without sales you are leaking fuel, like the SR-71, without making progress. You must get time on your side, not against you by getting revenue flowing quickly. This is best done by serving a narrow niche first with exactly what THEY want, then broadening from there. Not only does this allow you to find customers with lower expense, but it will also increase your closing ratio dramatically.
There is no reason your market entry strategy needs to be the same as your longer-term strategy, as your company grows and builds revenue and resources it can take on established competitors in spaces they control, but you must expect some margin degradation and harder selling. Often times it is good to have a plan to evolve your company through several market positions to avoid head-to-head competition with the toughest players in the market. This can fight with the desire to "Brand" your company with a single particular image, but this is a manageable problem and is a topic for another article.
Bob Norton is the author of four books on growing companies and CEO of C-Level Enterprises, Inc. which helps companies grow more rapidly with products, training and consulting.