I decided to write this piece personally because it is about a subject that I feel very close to my heart and on which I want to offer you my experience.
Enough with talking and straight to the point.
Today, all companies have the Web at their disposal, which is the more powerful weapon that has ever existed on the Earth. Nevertheless, they leverage just a minimum of its infinite potential.
But do you know what’s the most funny aspect of it?
It’s that if you try to ask companies if they are leveraging the Web, they will answer you: “Yes, we have a website and we use social networks” or “We have an e-commerce” and so on. Now, I do not say that having a website and a social presence is wrong, and indeed you must have them and do all these things at best.
But limiting yourself to that it is like buying the latest smartphone with 8 processors and thousands of gigabytes of RAM… and then using it only for calling. I have no doubts that you will manage to call and you will be satisfied of the phone’s calling capabilities, but let me tell you that it is a waste! At least use it for surfing the web or for running apps!
Here, saying to be exploiting the Web just because you have a website or a social profile it is just the same thing.
But it’s not your fault, since you were not supposed to know all the things I’m going to tell you know.
Let’s clarify it: when I talk about “monitoring their market”, I do not mean to buy the usual annual industry report, which is 100 pages long and ends up growing cobwebs on your desk.
No, buying these reports is more a habit than a strategic decision. In fact, instead of being essential and invaluable tools (potentially of course, since people never read them!), those reports are nothing more than the descriptive snapshot of what has happened over the last 12 months… 12 months… 12 months.
My keyboard didn’t jam, you read that right: 12 months! In a world that moves at the speed of light, there are still those who react a year later. Unbelievable…
Not considering that the goal of any forward-thinking business should not be reacting, but being proactive and anticipating change! So, I’m sure you will convene with me that market monitoring may NOT be executed just through the usual annual reports.
Let me better explain you the potential of this activity with some examples:
– If I have a company producing dairy products, for me it is important to know in real time if people start speaking online about the milk being unhealthy, and what exactly do they say about it, in order to anticipate possible crises or reputation scandals.
– Similarly. if you are a company that produces biscuits or products that could be made with palm oil, it is vital to be the first to know that a scandal is breaking out. This way you can limit the damage or exploit the opportunity to react faster than your competition.
This is why the businesses whose revenue depends on how certain products or ingredients are perceived must know in real time what and how is being said online, to prevent a crisis and to be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities.
• If you work in fashion, you must know in real time what are the latest trends and how they are spreading from one country to another;
• If you are a technology company, you need to know if new startups are rising and if there are new available technologies that might supplant yours.
And more generally, you need to know whether your market is growing, whether it is on the cutting edge or it is falling.
These are pieces of information that you MUST have, because they are essential to make better decisions and because they are rather easy to obtain today.
All the example I made you, in fact can be deduced by analysing the web.
Out there, there is the greatest book ever written and is called “The Internet”. Our task is to read it in order to know in real time what happens.
Yes, you can get all the information I mentioned in real-time, not 12 months later!
Today you can have a clear and definite idea of how your market is moving in real time and at low cost. In fact, this information can be recovered with different levels of depth (and consequently cost) depending on the objectives and the type of enterprise you are.
Well, you could think that if you are a small business you are excused if you do not monitor your market… but it is exactly the opposite!
It is not your size that makes a difference, besides, if you are small you can’t survive without the right information: you have less budget than the big companies, so you should be able to optimise it at most by taking the right decisions and knowing your market by heart.
There is no excuse: whether you are big or small, if you are not monitoring your market and you do not know what happens, then you can not complain if your turnover falls or if new competitors slowly steel your market quote from you.
Better, you were excused before today… these are new things, and maybe you had never heard about them before.
Pay attention that is very different from the saying “the customer is always right”: I’m not telling you to say yes to all the demands of your customers!
Besides, I do not even mean to listen to the customers who write to you or those who speak to your employees at the store. I take for granted that you already listen to the customers who contact you directly.
I’m talking about listening to the customers who are talking about you online, and they do it in many different places, from forums, social networks, blogs, reviews and beyond.
What these people say is a priceless treasure, first because it is free visibility, and second because they are giving you valuable information on what you should do to improve.
People love to talk about what they just bought or of what they would like to have, to comment on the commercials they see, on the events they participate in (or that they watch on tv), and to shout their view on product features through reviews and so on.
And all these is absolutely spontaneous.
Think about this: how many times did you participate in a brainstorming meeting to figure out how you can improve a product or which campaign to launch next? I imagine many times, but I guess that in just few of them you started the meeting with a clear view on the opinions that people have voluntarily shared online.
It’s more likely that in those meetings you started from the results of some survey, focus group or other methods used to collect opinions from consumers.
I’m not saying that classical focus groups, surveys or similar should be eliminated, but to integrate these data with what is already online.
People online are already saying everything, you just need to listen.
I’ll give you some examples of topics about which people are talking about online:
– They express opinions about your new testimonial
– They give feedback on the features of your products
– They say if they like or not the music broadcasted in your stores
– They express their liking or not to your commercials, and to any initiatives your company has done
– They say what they would like to receive from you
– They speak of the occasions of use of your products, of what they like and what they would like
– They tell you who are the trend setters, i.e. who are the people who have influenced their choices
– Etcetera, it goes on and on!
As you can see, there really is a varied wealth of information that you can access… and that the majority of companies totally ignore.
If they do not talk enough, it means that you have to stimulate their conversations. People love to talk about anything, just offer them the chance. Your task is to create new opportunities for people to talk about you.
This way you’ll get lots of information about what they want and what they think, plus you’ll get more visibility and you will improve your strategy, all through spontaneous and free information.
I almost forgot: knowing what people are saying, where and when even allows you to interact in real time with your current and potential customers. People appreciate it very much if the brand is working to help them solve a problem, even just by offering some advice or making them feel important.
To give you an idea of how important this aspect is, think that American Airlines created a team dedicated to listening activity and then put it to work alongside the senior management.
Probably, some initiatives undertaken by you competitors are often the subject of lengthy discussions within your company. But, answer honestly: can you say that your company systematically monitors the competition to snatch their secrets and to understand if you are actually getting better results or not?
If the answer is “Yes!”, then congratulations, because it means you are really working to stay one step ahead of your competition. And of course you can not stay a step ahead of anyone if you do not know exactly where they are (and where are you compared to them).
Knowing who your competitors are is often difficult if you don’t adequately monitor the market, because new businesses constantly sprout out and new ways to satisfy the same need arise, while customers change their habits.
Just think about how the sharing economy changed the way people move, travel and even eat! Of course, hotels never though that people with a spare room would have been their competitor, nor did taxis with people who owned a car, or restaurants with people who loved cooking!
This to say, if you are not aware of who really your competitors are TODAY, obviously you have a problem… because you risk to spy into the wrong house and waste time to obtain unnecessary (or not so relevant) information.
So if you happen to be in this position, remember that before spying on your competitors you need to understand and to better monitor your own market.
Here are some peaces of information you can get:
– How much people talk about your competitors;
– What do they say, what products they like the most and why;
– Who and where they speak of your competitors;
– Who are the most influential people who talk about them and who could be interesting to monitor or contact yourself;
– If they speak about them positively or negatively, and if the sentiment changes over time;
– If they are getting better results than yours;
– How they prices change, even though they have many products they sell on several channels.
– What the media say of your competitors and in which newspapers they get more visibility (in an exact manner and not by guessing, basing your evaluation on how much your colleagues are talking about it!)
And so on… as you can see, there are so many aspects you can find out about your competitors. Aspects that can be really useful to create more targeted campaigns, and to better understand your results and the actual success of your initiatives.
All this through information that is easy to find and that you can get in real time.
Don’t worry, it is a rhetorical question and I know perfectly well that IS NOT YOUR FAULT, it is normal that so far you have not done most of the things I’ve written about so far.
You can not take care of your work and be updated on everything at the same time. For the CMI this is normal stuff, but it is because we have been doing just this all day for quite a long time.
And I assure you that even for us it is not so easy to keep up, because everything changes really fast!
Hence, it is normal that you had no way of knowing all these things before.
But now you know and you do not have more excuses.
The fourth move does not cover a specific activity, but it should be more of a constant principle in everything you do.
If you do not measure the results and the effort to get them, then you have no way to measure the return on your investments. It simply becomes impossible to tell if you did the right moves to reach your goals, and what’s the range of improvement you could have.
Remember, there is no right or wrong strategy, there is no magic formula and there is no one who can state “I am absolutely right”. The only ones who are always right are the numbers.
Nobody cares if what you’ve done is trivial, original or unconventional: it counts only if at the end of the day you’ve achieved your goals.
I know that maybe someone will say, “but come on, I can tell at a glance that my profit is increasing.” True, you can guess just by looking when your turnover changes, but your eyes can not understand what action has really caused that increase.
Internet gives the incredible advantage to make everything measurable. For the first time in history we can know exactly how many people see our content, how they interact with it, how they talk about it and so on.
Being able to accurately measure your results, you are undoubtedly witnessing the greatest revolution in the recent years. For the first time we must not only rely on intuition, but there are clear and inescapable numbers that help us take the best decisions.
Aren’t you excited about it? Of course, to enjoy these benefits you should measure carefully every activity and all the results you are getting, even the partial ones.
But to make this concept more concrete, let’s see some examples of what you should be measuring:
– The amount of traffic to your website
– The source of traffic to your website (till here it’s easy!)
– The keywords that bring more traffic to your website
– The pages, titles and words of your site on which the users stop for longer (here it gets tougher)
– Which posts on social networks sell more
– Testing more types of ads and pages, which one converts more
– The external posts/articles that generate more traffic to the site, and the ones than drive more sales (trickier and trickier!)
– All aspects I talked about in the first 3 moves
– Etcetera, I could go on for hours!
As you can see there are really many aspects that can be measured: gone are the days when you evaluated the results by guessing.
And guess what... even for this move it does not matter how large your company is, how much budget you have or what excuses come to your mind. Measuring the results of the activities they do is a duty for all businesses.
The fifth move is perhaps the most important and probably it should be the first thing you worry about. However, I put it last because it is also the most subtle and difficult to understand and apply.
Unlike the other four moves, which are much more obvious – and excuse me for saying so, but you have to actually start doing them, and if you do not you have no excuses! – this move is not only a move but it is a real new way of looking at your business.
It is to ignore for a moment what we think to know about our customers and to start all over again.
It means questioning yourself of who actually are you real customers today and who will they be in the future, both in the short, medium and long term. It means unlearning in order to actually learn.
Someone perhaps will think these are just beautiful words, but without a practical meaning. And I must say that I understand them: there is just a slight difference, but it makes all the difference in the world.
In the first four moves, I taught you what you can learn on the market, about your customers and competitors. In this fifth point you have to treasure everything you have learned by applying the previous moves to watch your market from a new perspective.
Forget about what you already know and give you the opportunity to look at your business from the outside. They say that people are always good at solving other people’s problems instead of their own ones… and it’s true. This is why you have to get out of things as you already know them and see your business from a distance, managing to capture the nuances that you can not see from within.
But above all, you should leverage all the information you collected from the first four moves about what works, what your customers and competitors are doing and how the outside landscape is changing, to be really able to understand in which market you are.
Likely, you would reply by explaining the features of your service, saying the “official” name of your industry and stuffing in some technical information. In short, you will throw out at me your classic presentation… do not worry, it is absolutely correct!
But let me show you an example to understand what I mean.
Let’s pretend that you have a center for cryotherapy – that is, in short, the therapy through cold.
If I asked you what you do, you would probably answer me that you have a center for cryotherapy that offers different types of therapies through the usage of very cold temperatures.
Am I right? In short, you do cryotherapy, what else should you say?
And in fact, if we look at it from the point of view of the person who offers the service, the answer is right. This is the standard way in which all of us define our activities: “we give the standard definition of the sector and then add some technical features to it“.
But let us now see it as a consumer. I honestly have no idea what cryotherapy is and I am not even sure that cold is good for my health, indeed usually when I’m cold I take – precisely – a cold.
And definitely I’m not not going to start doing cryotherapy just because I like to be exposed to a very cold below zero temperature (brrrr).
On the contrary, I might consider it as a therapy if I’m an athlete and I need to recover from fatigue in the shortest time as possible, or if I had a surgery and I need to speed up my recovery, or just if I were a woman who would like her skin to look younger.
These are the reasons that lead a person toward cryotherapy! It is not the cold itself, but the benefits of being in the cold for a few minutes that push me to turn to this service.
Do you understand now?
Our cryotherapist friend is not in the business of cold or of cryotherapy, but it is in the business of those who help athletes recover more quickly, of those who help surgery recovery and so on.
It is a subtle difference but it makes all the difference in the world: if you talk to your client just about the cold he won’t be interested (and maybe he will even be a little scared!). On the contrary, if you tell him about the advantages, you will light up his eyes and he will be looking forward to become your client.
So, be very careful on how you talk about your company and what points do you stress. Always remember that the only thing that matters is what matters to your customers!
But there is more: if you just look at the cold, you will think that your competitors are only the other companies doing cryotherapy. You will miss the larger number of other companies and professionals who offer alternative therapies, who help recovery and so on!
This fifth point is something on which you have to work all the time, changing and improving the approach depending on how your market evolves and how the needs and habits of your customers change.
There is nothing worse than a blind man who thinks he sees, and who discovers to be blind only when it crashes.
Now you have all the tools not to be blind anymore and to take the best decisions for your company through these 5 simple moves… but you must act now.
I think so, and now I am here to give you an extra hand.
I guess that since you already have your job to do, all these information and actions I talked you about are far too many for you to keep up. Or maybe while you were reading you said: “Yes, ok… I agree!” but now at the end, you are thinking: “Brilliant, but now what should I do?“.
I hope I’ve explained you quite clearly why you should take these 5 moves into practice and how you can become a master of your destiny and of your market.
And I’m more than happy if these words have opened your eyes and made you think of the many opportunities that until now you have been missing…
If this guide really helped someone achieve more, there is nothing that can make me happier! I would be glad to know that I have not only wasted my time behind a keyboard!
Be aware that you are then one of those few people and companies that are qualified to work directly with our agents on more complex and advanced projects, in order to bring their marketing and their business on an even higher level.
In fact, we have super-qualified agents, but precisely because they are just a few, we can not work with every company who contact us. So if you feel ready, try to apply and explain your situation, your proposal will be evaluated and certainly get an answer.
Remember, our agents work on advanced and complex projects only with already mature companies that have already understood and assimilated the potential of the 5 moves, which apply and are ready to make a further leap in quality.
…don’t panic, it is perfectly normal! If I were in your place, I would not have understood almost nothing, and I’d be now looking for the HELP button to ask all the questions that come to mind!
For you who want the best possible action plan to move from theory to practice, we thought of a proposal that is unique to its kind.
The study looks at what customers say about your brand and your products, what actions and results your competitors have gained, what are the main industry trends and the most successful campaigns and the best online channels.
It also allows you to understand if there are strategies that can be “copied” from other industries to find new inspirations.
In essence, it is to put under the magnifying glass the web presence of your company and of your competitors, by understanding how you benchmark with them and what are the main improvements you can make.
Yes, you got it right: this time we take care of all the 5 moves activities to give you your starting framework.
We will take out all the effort to understand what is being said about your market, what your customers think and what your competitors are doing.
And we’ll tell you in detail what you need to do to keep having all the updated data and operating the 5 moves.
I guess at this point you’re wondering:
Well, it is normal to have doubts when you are asked to invest in something you do not know, since you are not sure of the return of the investment!
Maybe you’re thinking:
And so on … I understand, that’s what most of the companies think, or at least all those who have not tested yet what does it feel to have a 007 of the web at their disposal.
I understand very well and I absolutely do not want to force you to do something you do not think useful or valuable…
I’m aware that you do not know me yet and you obviously don’t know the real value of what I can do for you.
You will have at your complete disposal one of our agents, who will investigate for you and provide you with a comprehensive Check-out Report and new strategies to grow.
You do not have to worry about anything, just tell us if you have any curiosity or question that you would like to find answers to and we will work for you … without any commitment from you.
In fact, in case you would consider the results of the report unsuitable or unnecessary for you, you could just say to us: “Thank you for everything, but I do not care about this topics”.
On the contrary, if you would think our work to be useful for you, then we will start collaborating and you will pay us the report price discounted by half and even with an additional 20% discount, since this is not the job I want to earn from.
I could have given you the report totally free, but my goal here is to create a relationship of mutual trust, in which you know that you will get the most out of me and I know that you will recognise me the value (albeit symbolically as in this case) of what I do.
Because you have to win my trust as well: I do not have time to waste and I work only with companies that share my goals and principles. And they obviously appreciate my work and pay for the value I produce.
I put my face and money on this because I know that I can help you grow, and if you grow it’s a gain for both of us.
It may seem like a reckless offer on my part – in the end I am offering to work for you potentially totally for free!
But I assure you that since we started adopting this approach, what that has given me more satisfaction than anything else is to see the faces of my customers at the end of the Check-up Report presentation.
And for me, this is more important than anything else … because it is the beginning of a collaboration that will bring us higher that what we ever imagined possible.
Before reading this guide you had all the excuses in the world, because you did not even know what the 5 moves were and you had the right not to invest in something you don’t know.
Because, if after getting your hands on what we can find out about your industry, your customers and your competition, you will still think that you are not interested in what I’m offering you…
…we will be friends again and you will not spend a single euro (and, actually, you will know more about your industry)!
So do not wait a minute more, fill out the form at the bottom of the page because this offer to start working for FREE without commitment will not be valid forever!
Are you ready to bring the 5 moves into your business in a concrete and profitable way?
Talk to you later and as I always say… eyes open and ears to the ground!
Head of Central Marketing Intelligence
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