Managing market intelligence is a challenge for every business. We’re constantly assaulted with seemingly endless streams of data. We love data. However, we love making sense out of that data more. Better yet, we adore simple visuals and references to enable us to work through the more important task of using such data as meaningful and actionable market intelligence.
Even though we gain some comfort through copious amounts of data, any executive, operations or business development leader needs to simplify data into meaningful market intelligence. This usually involves some sort of visual. That may manifest into…*gasp* a slide deck! Provided such a simple means of communicating information can be created, this should be a simple “baseball card” level of detail to act as a reference guide for your leadership team.
Before someone starts getting carried away with another 80 slide PowerPoint extravaganzas, let’s use a simple checklist of core questions and market intelligence which could realistically be addressed in a compact format.
- Who are you serving? Who is the customer (e.g., Federal Aviation Administration or FAA) and their relevant targeted offices and programs relevant to your business? This is based on what you sell and how that aligns with the customer.
- What is the customer buying? Understanding the kind of products and services the customer is buying can be accomplished by researching what kind of work is currently being performed on contracts as well as what emerging areas the customer is focused on. The latter part of this may require a bit more digging around to identify emerging trends and priorities within the customer market.
- Who are they buying from now? Your core competitors as defined by what they buy vs. what you offer is a useful reference. Coopetition is all too typical in U.S. Government contracting. Identifying contracts by competitor is important to begin to understand relative position vs. your business and each other. Additionally, who has fortunes on the rise or decline?
- How is the customer buying? Identify how the customer typically procures goods and services. Do they use government wide acquisitions contracts (GWAC), single-award contracts, multiple award indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, or other transactional authority (OTA) contracts? Additionally, it will be helpful to recognize some barriers to entry when researching customer purchasing tendencies. Does the customer use 8(a) or other socio-economic set asides or certain contract vehicles? Does the customer have a penchant for leveraging small business set-asides? Do they tend to favor the incumbent or other insiders?
- Where is this customer located? Identifying the customer’s footprint goes beyond just locating its headquarters. Some contracts may require on-site support at agency offices. It is important to identify where those offices are located, evaluate your current recruiting footprint in the area and establish pipelines to increase that footprint.
- What and when opportunities are in play? While we are in U.S. Government contracting to serve the public’s needs and agency missions, we can’t do so without identifying and winning contracts. This means we need to be all too aware of upcoming opportunities.
Once you have this simple reference guide made, how do you use it?
- Develop avenues of approach and targeted offices or programs to successfully engage with and sell your products or services to the customer.
- Prioritize and develop actions based on highlighted opportunities – Identify necessary actions to pursue chosen opportunities while understanding related factors enabling or impeding that pursuit.
- Identify competitors and teammates that currently support the customer. Even a cursory scan of the top agency players in your service lines, such as in the figures below, will help you begin to identify likely competitors or potential teammates.
- Craft your propositions based on the environment – Does anyone like generic solutions? Use this market intelligence to adapt what you do to address needs.
Note: The images above are just a sampling of some top-level visuals that will help you better understand a new customer. You can find a link to an example of a more comprehensive, top-level view of a federal customer at the conclusion of this blog.
As your business develops with the targeted customer, you will undoubtedly build a depth of knowledge about their trends and tendencies that will further influence business development. This simple overview should be updated to reflect changing views on the customer and knowledge gained. Leverage related ideas such as those presented in our October 2019 blog on converting market intelligence into market success to further help you grow your business.
Here is an example of product we developed at FedSavvy Strategies that provides top-level insight into the FAA. Such simple concepts can help guide your long-term business development plans and execution.
As always…do your homework. There are many opportunities out there. Good luck and good hunting!
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