Integrated Market Strategy

I learned market strategy from one of the masters, Regis McKenna, back in the mid-1990s. Back then, the process Regis’ Consulting firm devised (nearly a decade earlier) was dubbed CRUSH (no acronym, just “Crush the competition”). It was created as a fast, hyper-focused market strategy process that could be implemented for a client quickly (I believe it was for Apple).

But, all of the parts of the CRUSH process are just as relevant today as they were so many decades ago. In fact, they are way more advanced than the typically sad state of “state-of-the-art” marketing taught in business schools and practiced in organizations worldwide, today. Some are now referring to the first part of this process as STEEP (standing for Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, and Political). I don’t really care what it’s called but business professionals need to modernize their strategy and adopt the CRUSH process.

Sadly, the reality of the vast majority of “marketing” practiced in the world is based on a few poorly-implemented processes, disconnected and out-of-order, colossal misunderstandings of people and markets, and more than a few lazily-used templates. I kid you not. But, there is a better way:

• Recognize that typical “market research” is only quantitative research, which may uncover the what and how of customers’ activities but that’s it. Qualitative research (sometimes called “market insight”) requires qualitative techniques to uncover the why of customer behavior. Without this, your market strategy is sunk, from the beginning.

• Qualitative research must precede quantitative research. Even a little will uncover the most important insights into customer decision-making and the decision drivers customers base their decisions upon. Once these are uncovered, quantitative research techniques can be used to explore how widespread and powerful these are, across industries, competitors, and markets. Then, qualitative research can be used again to uncover the details of customer behavior, cut as the triggers that signal to them the qualities they desire. Research simply goes back and forth between qualitative and quantitative from them on. You cannot skimp on this even if 1) you think it’s more difficult and more time-consuming or 2) you don’t understand or even believe in qualitative data.

• Environmental Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Positioning, and beyond (like Infrastructure Marketing and Whole Product Marketing) are all connected, interrelated, and follow in this specific order. The key is that the outcomes of the preceding process are required as the inputs to the next process. This means that you cannot perform competitive research until you’ve identified the most important decision-drivers in Environment Analysis. Typically, these processes are completely unrelated and done out-of-sequence (if they’re all done at all), in strategy today.

• While templates can be helpful, they’re mostly used as a crutch by strategists (and other business people pretending to be strategists). In fact, the typical Positioning Statement template is used willy-nilly in a process barely more sophisticated than mad-libs, and the results are completely unvalidated and represent the product of groupthink.

Add: qualitative research tools and techniques (design research, laddering, etc.)

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