See the Forest and the Trees

See the Forest and the Trees

It’s important to look beyond the walls of your cubicle and get a sense of what is going on around you

It’s important to look beyond the walls of your cubicle and get a sense of what is going on around you

Your customers have many options. It is up to you to communicate to them in context of the overall universe of possibilities—the market in which you operate. Your job is to convince customers that your product, service or solution is obviously the best choice for them.

Understanding how your company, product or service stacks up against the competition is a logical step towards creating a message that is convincing and compelling. Marketing strategy guru Jack Trout said “differentiate or die.” That doesn’t mean bashing the competition. It does mean knowing your relative strengths and weaknesses and positioning your offer accordingly.

See the Forest and the Trees

It’s important to look beyond the walls of your cubicle and get a sense of what is going on around you. It is sometimes really easy to get caught up in the internal perceptions of the market. For example, you have probably heard people say something like “that new standard will never get adopted—they don’t have enough support from partners.” Maybe so, but it is a good idea to stick your head out the window every once in a while and see if what you believe is really true. Otherwise, you might find yourself at a distinct disadvantage.

Look for external market influences and how they might affect your company and the competition. Consider the political, economic, social and technical issues surrounding your customers including regulatory requirements and even international trade issues. How about political affiliations? Are economic factors like inflation or interest rates a major concern to your customers? What are the technological trends in the industry?

Can you claim leadership? Do your customers value that leadership? How can you position developments in the category in the best light possible for your customers? How can you make things better for them than any of their other alternatives? MetaLINCS is a provider of electronic discovery software. They launched their product in 2006 into an established, multi-billion dollar but risk-averse legal and investigatory services industry.

See the Forest and the Trees

MetaLINCS felt their new technology would revolutionize the e-discovery market. To their surprise, their target customers weren’t ready to be revolutionized. The traditional e-discovery business model was built on manual review of electronic documents by relatively low-paid young associates or paralegals. Automating this process cuts directly into law firm and services companies’ revenues, and enterprises weren’t yet compelled to perform this function in-house. After launching to an intrigued but slow-to-act market, the company found that their highest impact would come from institutional influencers like the Department of Justice. They re-vamped their go-to-market strategy and went after the DOJ and the supplier vendors to convince them to use the MetaLINCS product as the e-discovery platform of choice.

Now they are one of the approved reporting standards for e discovery in DOJ investigations. They have increased their penetration rates and their sales funnel and revenue stream is steadily growing. What started out as a flop has been turned into a huge success. These are the moments when it is more important than ever to take a look around and see the forest and the trees.

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