In our line of work, we see a lot of bad market research disguised as market intelligence. The sneaky thing about bad market research is that, on the surface, it looks good. It looks accurate. They include pretty charts and precise growth rates. They reference international issues shaping domestic market trends. Maybe they talk about technological disruption.
Guess what. Much of the “market intelligence” you read are big numbers you want to believe. It gives you statistics which may be based on some degree of reality. But at the end of the day, what can you actually do with those charts and percentages? Not a whole lot. That’s what makes it bad market research – it’s not actionable. It’s also not made for you and your business.
Market Intelligence – what’s the goal?
Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here. The objective of market intelligence, particularly in the government contracting world, is to gain better insights into a new customer or service area and develop strategies to grow your business along those lines.
The resulting insights should help answer a number of questions when looking at a new market, such as:
- Who is actually buying what you’re selling? Who are the customers, agencies, offices, etc. that have spent money or have requirements for the services your company provides? Market intelligence should also answer “Who’s who in the zoo” – who are the companies that are currently operating in this market? They will be your future competitors (or your partners, depending on the situation).
- What might prevent you from addressing this market? Do major customers use certain socio-economic set-asides, contract vehicles that you don’t have access to, or bundle services with product development? These represent barriers to entry.
- Where should you focus your resources? There are limits on time, money, and people and developing a plan of where to leverage these resources and when to do so prevents you from wasting time and money chasing shiny objects.
- When will customers solicit major contracts? How much time do you have to prepare for the contracts that best fit your abilities? When might you need to make key hires, identify teammates, or build internal capabilities?
- Why does the customer need your services? Does this support business as usual, or is their mission changing? Addressing the customer’s needs, wants, and fears can help you better tailor your solutions and provide services above and beyond the minimum requirements.
- How do they typically acquire these services? Do they use government-wide acquisition contracts, multiple award indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, other transactional authority (OTA), single-award contracts, etc.?
Once you answer these questions, techniques like Porter’s Five Forces can help you evaluate the individual aspects of the market and the attractiveness of the market as a whole.
What does good market intelligence look like?
Good market intelligence should be tailored, targeted, and actionable.
Let’s start in reverse with ACTION. The key is to translate intelligence into action. We’re not doing research for fun. We’re doing it to inform and execute business decisions.
Tailoring is important. You shouldn’t be able to take market intelligence performed for one company and apply it to another – even if the two companies are similar and operate in the same space. Good market intelligence should be customized to not only your company, but to the specific business unit within the company. The defense group isn’t going to be too interested in insights from the federal civilian space.
Targeting is critical. You also shouldn’t be trying to “boil the ocean” with market intelligence. Broadly looking for “opportunities within DoD” or trying to “break into the federal IT market” will rarely be successful. As the author Jack Canfield said, “vague goals produce vague results.” A more defined research scope (e.g., software development opportunities within DHS component agencies, or sustainment of satellite ground systems for space-based customers) will produce more targeted, actionable results.
Why do you care? The end result of good market intelligence should be:
- A pipeline of opportunities and actions that your company can immediately start pursuing or preparing for over 3-5 years.
- Addressable market sizes for your company…based on reality and NOT fantasy
- High-value customers to target
- Barriers to entry that you will have to overcome to succeed
- Companies you will have to compete against (or work with…)
These insights allow your business development and capture teams to determine which customers and opportunities are attractive and can be pursued. You can start planning budgets and resources to allocate for future pursuits and determine where you may have to make investments (such as people, tools, or facilities). These are the actions that result from good market intelligence – a tactical plan to actually win a piece of those broadly-painted multi-billion-dollar markets.
So if you’re in the market for good market intelligence (pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist), contact FedSavvy Strategies and we’ll be happy to help! And as always… stay focused. Do your capture homework. There are some great opportunities out there. Good hunting!
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