While we stress the value of serious conversations with prospects and customers there are other sources of market insights on emerging opportunities for your current product or next offering. I have placed them on a spectrum that runs from a macroscopic view based on objective measurements and numbers to a microscopic view that is more subjective and based on stories.
I have included some options that are available to more established firms so that early stage firms remain mindful of sources of information not yet available to them. I don’t think you should proceed top down as much as consult the variety of sources that you have available to cross check and verify insights from any single source.
Macroscopic / Objective / Numbers / Trends
- Published Statistics
- Market statistics
- Government statistics (e.g. census, labor bureau, …)
- Third Party Market Studies and Analysis
- Independent financial analysis of public companies
- Third Party Perspectives
- News articles, blog posts, and other third party stories
- Editorial Calendars and Conference call for paper topic lists
- Third Party Experts and Analysts (who have surveyed / interviewed prospects)
- Interview potential partners / channels
- Survey prospects directly
- Survey customers (if you have them)
- Responses to adwords, landing pages, and other probes
- Public conversations
- Discussions of problems and issues in public mailing lists
- Published papers and articles authored by prospects
- Panels and presentations at conference and trade shows
- Public data about competitors – website and other published content
- Product Datasheets and Service Descriptions
- Positioning statements
- Case Studies (in particular the implied frame of reference and what’s rarely or never mentioned)
- Direct Conversation with Prospects
- Exploratory / Problem Discovery conversations
- Demo Feedback
- Benchmark / Evaluation / Trial use feedback
- Proposals to Prospects (and their reaction)
- Win-loss analysis (talk with both prospects and customers)
- Direct conversations with Customers
- Why did they buy?
- What do they use?
- How do they use it differently than you anticipated (are they “using it wrong!”)?
- New Features / Needs
- Case Studies
Microscopic / Subjective / Stories
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