Leverage Your Market Sizing to Raise Your Profile in 5 Steps

If you already do market sizing, use that as fuel for content that raises your firm’s profile.

When it comes to business, certain bits of information are essential for us to put a firm or its products into context. The size of the market is one such tidbit. It allows us to grasp how a firm ranks versus its competitors, shows whether its share of the pie is growing or shrinking, and how the pie itself is growing or shrinking.

Picture of pie
Pictured: The pie (that I made myself that was every bit as delicious as it looks)

Show me the pie

Market sizing is curious activity. It can consume a lot of resources and serve as a key input for strategy and investment discussions. It’s also closely guarded and rarely communicated outside of the company. There is, however, a reason to use key figures from the exercise: namely, to gain credibility with stakeholders including clients, prospects and the media.

Minimum required information

In some cases, the size of the market is a basic data point that you have to provide prospects in order to gain their custom. In financial services, investors will want to know how an asset class compares to what they already hold in their portfolio. Institutional investors are looking to gauge capacity issues. Any basic case for investment type of material will detail both the primary and secondary market volumes: the first in total outstanding and the second in yearly amounts. In other sectors, clients may be completely indifferent to these considerations–though you can still leverage the data to gain an advantage.

Here are a few tips for turning market size figures into thought leadership:

1. Choose the market

You have 2 options: either size the market for your product (choose 1 category) or for your clients’ products (again, choose 1 category). With the former, you position yourself as being knowledgeable about your own activity–a step down the path of demonstrating expertise and later thought leadership. With the latter, where your clients compete globally and their production volumes (supply) have an impact on prices (demand)–you’re offering them a kind of customer service to help them better understand their industry and competitive context (B2B service).

Pick one. I’ve seen either work for different firms.

2. Confirm the target

I meant to do that.

Is there a common understanding of annual market turnover? For a product such as smartphones, the answer is clearly yes. Those manufacturers release regular reports on the number of products sold. For public firms, it’s a clear factor for revenue and earnings projections closely followed by analysts. No mystery there.

If you’re tackling more of a niche sector that may be highly fragmented and there doesn’t appear to be a trusted source of this data, that’s a sign you have an opportunity to build a common reference point for the industry. (Bear in mind that consultants and market research firms will also be fishing in these waters).

3. Pull back the curtain

Is anybody out there?

Share some of your key figures with the outside world. Start with where you’re at today, or perhaps fill in the past few quarters or years to provide context and show a trend. Be descriptive. From there, you can begin to discuss trends and factors that influence them. It’s an opportunity to speak to clients about those trends, and for you to solicit their views. For highly regulated or compliance-sensitive sectors, it gives you the chance to talk about something other than product when you have a public platform (live event, webinar, etc.).

4. Be bold

If you’ve got the courage and internal support, give your views on where the market is headed in the future. Make a projection. Caution: this one can be intimidating for many folks. If you can stomach it, you’ll benefit from the anchoring effect. In essence,  Being the first to put a number out will tie the discussion around your reference point. Clients and journalists may go around asking your competitors for their views/estimates, but largely to compare with your figure. You gain the lead.

5. Rinse, repeat

The source of all marketing strategy, less dandruff

Marketing basically follows the instructions on your shampoo bottle. Repetition is key, so insert your market figures into discussions with clients, journalists, etc. And if you gain traction, plan to repeat the exercise on a regular basis (probably quarterly or yearly). Good luck.


The Easiest Market Research Mistake To Avoid

“The minute you start compromising for the sake of massaging somebody’s ego, that’s it, game over.”

– Celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay

A while back I was asked to provide guidance on a readership survey being conducted by a firm to collect feedback on their flagship print publication for clients. I’m a big fan of market research, so I always latch onto new questionnaires and novel response formats that happen to come my way. In this instance, the survey effort hit a rather significant stumbling block.

Pictured: a stumbling block

A multiple, limited choice

The problem that emerged from the short and simple questionnaire hinged on a single question that asked respondents with which frequency they would like to hear from the company about topics judged relevant to them (as judged by the firm). The possible answers were pretty straightforward –weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc– though there was one seemingly slight omission: clients could not choose a ‘none’ or ‘zero communications’ option — meaning that they had to receive something from the company.

Allowing for all possibilities

It may not seem like a big deal that a respondent cannot choose to opt-out of communications, though in most countries this is a minimum legal requirement for marketing communications and in Europe the burden is higher due to requirements that the recipient opt-in for receiving messages. Legal considerations aside, I felt that an overly restrictive set of answers could show the firm’s unwillingness to accept the full, honest client feedback and potentially signal disrespect.

My advice was to add a ‘zero’ (no communications) response option out of courtesy for respondents. This is, incidentally, best practice when producing questionnaires.

Letting ego get in the way

One of the directors at the firm in charge of approving the survey felt that clients would never choose to opt-out of communications and decided to have the zero option removed from the frequency question’s possible answers. He couldn’t accept the fact that some clients want to be left alone. Despite my appeal to reintroduce the zero option, the survey was deployed without it. Two months later at the end of the response period, the response rate was rather poor. This alone might have indicated that there was an issue with the survey design. The actual responses dispelled any doubt, with 10-15 percent of the respondents providing angry or negative comments–most of which focused on the issue of frequency. Out of frustration, a number of clients had taken the liberty of creating their own zero option, heavily underlining it and expressing strong dissatisfaction with rather harsh words. Others more politely asked to opt-out. (Mental note: if your client survey incites anger, it’s time for some serious soul-searching).

Keep an open mind

Soliciting client feedback means preparing yourself to hear it. It’s important to allow your audience to freely and fully express themselves–even if you don’t like what they might have to say. Demonstrating the ability to listen to and fulfill clients’ needs is the basis for successful client relationships.

If you’re interested in the next step following a readership survey, have a look at this story on how to re-launch a print publication.