Over the last several posts we have been examining the context of your customer in preparation to build a customer specific strategy. Laying the groundwork involves 5 parts, we are on Part 3. The first 2 parts are current/historical perspectives on the customer and your relationship to this point, beginning with Part 3 we look current/forward.
Getting your arms around the customer’s industry is a simple concept: look at your customer’s current industry landscape and project what you foresee it being over then next three years. A word to the wise, the first step can be a dousey.
Be clear on what industry they are in. Take the moments to really evaluate what industry they are in NOW, not historically. For instance, if your customer is Cox Cable, what’s their industry: cable, TV delivery or in home entertainment delivery? Cable delivers “stuff” to homes via infrastructure, TV delivery controls “stuff” that shows up on those boxes we hang on the wall via access control software, and in-home entertainment is what we spend time doing while we are inside our homes, no matter how the “stuff” enters or what equipment we use to see or hear it. What is Cox focused on? Go back to Part 1, #7, what was your conclusion? Explore that industry or both if there is more than one.
Data points to collect as you build the big picture:
- How big is the industry?
- What is the growth trend?
- What is their market share?
- How is that trending?
- General trends within the industry?
- What are the major concerns of the industry as a whole?
- Who are the thought leaders within the industry?
- Where might choicepoints be in the future? VHS or Beta; DVD or Blue Ray; Paper, Plastic or Reusable; Cable or Hulu
- What decision criteria will likely play a role in those choicepoint directions? Price, availability, technology adoption by the customer, availability of a commodity
- Get their industry trade show on your calendar, go and see what you learn. Reading about it in trade mags or on the web is one thing, immersing your self in the trade show environment will give you deeper understanding. Nuances matter here as well. When you tell the customer you went, you will surprise them, and make a statement to them on how important their business is you.
By now you should have a nice picture of the larger context your client is working within; a taste of what their world looks like.
Next up, Part IV-Goals