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Market Strategy Development Services

Focus is the essence of a great market strategy. As an affiliate of The Chasm Group, Silicon Valley's premier market strategy practice, INSTEP employs a series of proven methods, tools and practices to discover and develop sound, focused market strategies. Collectively, we facilitate technology-based companies and organizations in the development and implementation of corporate and market development strategies that create and sustain market leadership. Our primary services are facilitative consulting based in part on the ideas detailed in the best-selling books - Crossing the Chasm (1991, HarperBusiness); Inside the Tornado (1995, HarperBusiness); The Gorilla Game (1998, HarperBusiness) and Living on the Fault Line (2000, HarperBusiness) - authored by The Chasm Group's Chairman Geoffrey Moore. These methods have been used to help over 700 companies since 1992.

INSTEP's market strategy development services include:

Assessment of Market Strategies, Whole Products and Technologies
Developing an effective market strategy requires a firm understanding of a company's existing whole products, related assets and market approach. When INSTEP works with companies pursuing early market opportunities, we focus on the:

  • viability of their product category,
  • potential value chain disruptions of their technology and products,
  • uniqueness of their technology and products and related intellectual property (i.e., patents),
  • professional service methodologies,
  • technology and distribution channel partnerships,
  • business model,
  • management team, business and technical processes and ability to execute,
  • industry and financial analyst insights about the company,
  • market strategy in terms of current markets and positions and strategic potential of early market prospects and customers.
In addition, for companies entrenched in existing markets, we also focus on the:
  • completeness of their whole products,
  • strength of their partnerships,
  • strength of the value chains the company and its whole product are associated with,
  • installed customer base to evaluate market share, target market and adjacent market segment growth potential and
  • position within such target market segments and plans for expansion relative to competition.

The output from this engagement is a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis of the company's market strategy, including the whole product and positioning.

Development of Market Strategy and Positioning
INSTEP's proven facilitative process engages senior management of a company in the development of a market strategy. This process begins with INSTEP interacting with senior management, customers, prospects and analysts to understand the current position of the company, its products and its marketplace, and the stakeholders' goals for the engagement. INSTEP staff do one-on-one interviews with the executive staff, key partners and key customers to better understand the company's products and position in the market. We also obtain product demonstrations, a company overview briefing and any additional background information. These activities allow INSTEP to understand, test and prove the company's thinking, and to be well prepared to facilitate the development of a market strategy.

With the background information established, INSTEP staff use The Chasm Group market strategy models and tools to facilitate the definition of a market strategy tailored to the needs of the company. The definition of a market strategy begins with category definition and the placement of your company and its category in the technology adoption life cycle (TALC).

Product Category Definition
A product category is simply an identifier for the market place that labels your competition, partners and value proposition. The category can be focused on core technology, a product or a system. It can either be a new category, an existing category or a sub-category of an existing category (so-called category hyphenation). We deepen your understanding of the concept of a product category and establish the product category for your company's offering.

Technology Adoption Life Cycle and Category Placement
In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore shows that technology adoption follows a well-defined life-cycle, the technology adoption life cycle (TALC). Companies, products, and categories are at some stage in the technology adoption life cycle . We will help you look at the marketplace adoption of your product category and related products and technologies and place them on the technology adoption life cycle. Placement is key because it drives what you build, what you sell, who you sell it to, and how you sell to them.

  1. The Early Market:
    Customers are visionaries under the influence of technology enthusiasts. Each new deal is greeted with enthusiasm. Product is still immature. Whole product has to be built from scratch for each customer, including a significant amount of "special work" unique to that customer's requirements.

  2. The Chasm:
    Early market commitments now absorb all discretionary resources such that you cannot offer any more "specials" to visionaries. Pragmatists, however, do not see the references nor the evidence of a whole product that would make you a safe buy. Sales cycles are extended, and most that do close are for pilot projects.

  3. In the Bowling Alley:
    Product is endorsed by pragmatist customers within the confines of one or more niche markets. Sales cycles within these confines are predictable with good margins. Outside these confines, there are only opportunistic sales, often at significant discount.

  4. Inside the Tornado:
    The mainstream marketplace has taken off. Virtually any vendor who can supply this category of product can sell it. A fierce market share war has developed, and price discounting is vicious. A market leader has emerged, establishing the de facto standards, and this company gets much better margins than the competition.

  5. On Main Street:
    The hyper-growth era is over. Market growth slows down as the market saturates. To expand further some competitors are now modifying their "standard offerings" to appeal to niche markets. Other competitors compete on price alone. The market leader still gets a margin premium but is under pressure to reduce price.

  6. End of Life:
    This category of product is passing out of the market, being displaced by a new category.

Once we have defined your product's category and placed it on the TALC, we help you define the following elements of your company's market strategy:

  • Definition of Target Customer Strategy:
    If you're in the early market, we'll help you think about early target customers to pursue. If you think you're ready to cross the chasm, we'll help you decide if you really are, and then which "beachhead" target customer segments you should attack.
  • Definition of Compelling Business Reason to Buy:
    To rapidly penetrate new target customer accounts, beachhead market segments and (eventually) broader market segments, your company must understand and focus on the compelling business reason for a customer to buy your product or service.
  • Definition of Whole Product Strategy:
    The whole product is everything the customer needs to achieve the business goal that drove its purchase decision. It includes not only the core technology, products and services you offer, but the on-going support, third party products and services necessary to solve the customer's business problem.
  • Definition of Partner Strategy:
    For each element of the whole product that cannot be supplied by your company, you must identify partners who can provide the complementary elements in your whole product.
  • Definition of Distribution Channels Strategy:
    The ability to reach target customers with the whole product offer is the responsibility of your company and its distribution channel partners. We help you identify distribution channel requirements and representative distribution channel organizations that can serve as distribution channels.
  • Definition of Pricing Strategy:
    We help you create the principles for pricing your products and services.
  • Definition of Competitive Strategy:
    We help you identify the competitive threats and opportunities facing the company as well as the company's source of competitive advantage when the product is introduced and when it is successful in the marketplace.
  • Definition of Market Expansion Strategy:
    When your company has achieved some success in the marketplace you must identify the potential adjacent market segments for company expansion, based on your whole product offer.
  • Definition of Positioning and Messaging Strategy:
    Each of the above market strategy elements is synopsized into a positioning statement. This summary positioning statement emphasizes the value, uniqueness and differentiation of your company. The positioning statement also identifies the audience for targeted outbound communications and an associated market messaging strategy.

Re-positioning and Market Strategy
Working with corporate boards and the executive management of companies, INSTEP engages in aggressive interventions for companies, product lines and market strategies that have reached the point of diminishing return. The more distressed the situation, the bolder the actions necessary to turn things around. Such actions often require rapid decisions that involve significant risk and have difficult near-term consequences. Our experience in such situations is that companies often reach a point of diminishing return due to:

  • lack of product and technology renewal,
  • incomplete whole products,
  • lack of focus on target markets and
  • poor execution that does not scale well.

INSTEP typically partners with a corporate board and senior management of a company to assess the current situation - market strategy, whole product, partnerships, installed customer base, channel strategy, business model, competition and internal processes. Once this analysis is completed, INSTEP and the company rapidly explore the options for the company, including possible M&A activity. Based on the selected option, INSTEP can help the company's senior management to develop a new market and positioning strategy (See "Development of Market Strategy and Positioning"). INSTEP often works with the company to identify partners (See "Development of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances") to accelerate the development of the whole product and the execution of the market strategy. INSTEP also works with M&A groups to facilitate buy and sell side transactions.

Development of Market Maps and Market Research
A basic tenet of effective market strategy is a firm understanding of the market landscape. The rapid growth and broad reach of certain technologies and markets often preempt the emergence of market maps that identify market segments and relationships among them. As a result, many technology companies have difficulty in:

  • defining their market position,
  • communicating to others about their technologies, products and other assets,
  • understanding the technologies, products and assets of other companies,
  • identifying gaps and opportunities for growth, and
  • completing partnerships of significant value.

To remedy such situations, INSTEP develops niche market maps focused on the needs of individual companies or investors. We have created market maps for companies in the E-Commerce, Web-to-Legacy, Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and wireless markets. Unlike the traditional industry analyst community market research that is broad and not specific to an individual company, INSTEP market maps are individualized, timely, and cost-effective.

Our market map projects begin by forming a team of INSTEP and company staff. The team defines the scope (i.e., business functional areas) and intended use (i.e., to understand and facilitate potential partnerships, to facilitate product definition, to develop market segmentation strategies, to identify competitors, etc.) of the market map.

We then identify value chains that model the activities that create significant value within the map's scope. We interview industry executives and thought leaders and review industry and financial analyst reports, trade journals and trade shows to help identify these value chains. These value chains refine the focus of the market map and establish a context for the elements of the map and associated products and services.

Value chains tell us where your customers and potential customers find value in your products and related products. They help us define a broad range of product and service categories that are relevant to delivering the value to your customers. We also define the major features to be supplied by the products and services offered in each broad category.

With the product and service categories defined, we can identify the major and emerging suppliers of products and services for each category. In addition, the team assesses the overall trends and likely future directions across the market map in terms of market development, leading consolidators, and niche players in the space. We validate the completeness and vision of the market maps with the company and leading industry experts.

Finally, we assist companies in applying the market maps to meet their goals. This may include:

  • refinement of the company's category,
  • definition of adjacent market segments,
  • refinement of Whole Product Plannings and
  • opportunities for strategic partnerships based on an analysis of the company's whole product gaps and potential synergies with other companies' whole products and distribution channels.

Analysis of Competition
INSTEP assists companies in understanding their current and future competitive landscape. We analyze the competition of companies in your category and companies in related categories in terms of:

  • stage along the Technology Adoption Life Cycle,
  • target customers, market segments and emerging market segments,
  • value proposition,
  • whole product offering and related intellectual property,
  • partnerships,
  • distribution channels,
  • pricing and business model, and
  • overall positioning and market message.

Development of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances
Today's fiercely competitive market requires the development of partnerships to accelerate time to market. With a market strategy and associated whole product strategy (See "Development of Market Strategy and Positioning") defined, INSTEP assesses the gaps in your company's ability to deliver the whole product. INSTEP performs partnership planning and brokering based on its strong network of contacts in the technology industry. We help companies form partnerships with technology, product and service providers to accelerate the delivery of whole product elements. We also help companies in the definition and brokering of channel partners so that the company can better penetrate existing or new market segments. Such partnerships may include joint ventures, equity investment, technology and product licensing and M&A.

Development of "Go to Market" Strategies and Tactics
INSTEP assists companies in the definition and execution of "go to market" plans derived from market strategies (See "Development of Market Strategy and Positioning"). We help you develop corporate and product themes for targeted market communications to select audiences. INSTEP also supports tactical "go to market" planning for:

  • development and delivery of "white papers" to seed objections to competitive categories, companies and products and to highlight the salient characteristics of new categories, companies, products, technologies, standards, market segments and business models,
  • critique of existing corporate and product messages, literature and presentations and
  • design and delivery of industry analyst and investor briefings.

Participation in Advisory Boards, Mentoring and Coaching
Often times companies desire an outside perspective on market, technology, product and investment trends. In such cases, INSTEP assists companies in the formation of and participation in advisory boards for these purposes.

Customized Engagements
Many clients have specific needs that do not fit neatly into any single INSTEP service offering. In these cases, we work with the senior management of the client company to develop a customized engagement scope of work and plan to meet its individual needs. Such engagements often involve elements from several of our service offerings.

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