Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship 101

4 Key Elements of Market Analysis

by Marc DeAmorim

I recently attended a lecture on market analysis as part of the MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series. For those unfamiliar with the Entrepreneurship 101 series, it is a free weekly lecture series featuring key topics related to starting a successful business, aimed at social innovators, and technology and life sciences enthusiasts. Topics in the series include funding your business, marketing, recruiting, intellectual property and more.

This blog post will provide a brief recap on some of the main points of the market analysis lecture presented by Usha Srinivasan, Program Director at MaRS.

  • Primary and Secondary Research Data Research is essential for any entrepreneur looking to build a good understanding of their market. Research data can be divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary research data can be defined as information collected by the researcher directly through instruments such as surveys, interviews, observations, or focus groups. Secondary research data is data that has been collected by someone other than the user. Secondary data is often easier and less expensive to collect than primary data, but it is wise to utilize more than one source for secondary data in order to validate the information available. By utilizing primary and secondary data, an entrepreneur can better understand their market, validate their assumptions, and adapt their ideas.
  • Sources of Information In order to collect secondary data, it is necessary to know where to look. Usha explained that government statistics agencies, like the Conference Board of Canada, industry and market research firms, various professional organizations, the MaRS startup library and Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, are all great sources of information. One particular source of information that I use quite often is data.com. With data.com’s “find companies” feature, you can set your own criteria to generate a list of organizations in your market segment. The more sources of information you know, the more likely you will be to find the information you’re looking for. It will be important to gather data throughout the life of your company in order to watch for changes in the market and be prepared to adapt as needed. When it comes time to prospect research, feel free to try a few of my personal research tips.
  • Important Questions to Answer With the types of data outlined above and some sources of information identified, Usha provided a variety of important questions that should be answered by entrepreneurs before launching their business. The questions she put forth included:
      • Who am I competing with?
      • What is the size of my market?
      • Who are my customers?
      • What is my business model?
      • What is my value proposition?
  • Tips To Be On Top of Your Industry Towards the closing of the lecture, Usha provided tips on how to be on top of your industry. She recommended that we attend industry and trade show events, track industry analysts, and subscribe to relevant industry journals and newsletters. By staying immersed in the news of your industry, you will be able to keep your market understanding up-to-date as the landscape changes. If you’re looking to stay up to date on sales, marketing and social media content, be sure to subscribe to the VA Partners newsletter.

To quote Schoolhouse Rock, “It’s great to learn, ‘cause knowledge is power!” The more an entrepreneur knows about their market, the more likely they are to succeed and grow.

 

Understanding your value proposition

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my first Entrepreneurship 101 session at MaRS in Toronto. Free to the public, the Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series covers topics crucial to starting and running a successful business.

The lecture I attended was led by MaRS Discovery District Education Lead Joseph Wilson and focused on designing meaningful value propositions. As defined by Joseph, a value proposition is a clear statement of unique benefits for a certain group of people. For those crafting a value proposition from scratch, it can help to think about the concept as a hypothesis that your product or service offering will bring certain values to a target customer. There are 3 key components all value propositions should include:

  • Your Product or Service A simple, straightforward statement of your product or service
  • For Whom (Target Customers) Also very straightforward. However, it’s important to remember that when developing value propositions for your products and services you should develop unique propositions for each unique target customer you want to go after. Some value propositions may translate relatively well between target customers, but as Joseph noted, your value proposition should speak to a specific group or person and thus should be specifically targeted.
  • Value(s) Remember, the value or values your products and services provide are separate from its features. From the perspective of VA Partners, our value isn’t that we provide comprehensive sales, marketing, and social media services. Rather, it’s that our services save our customers time while ensuring cost-effective revenue growth.  In general and from a B2B perspective, Joseph advocated that important values tend to be quantifiable, rational, and have a clear link to the bottom line (i.e. convenience, customizability, or quality). At VA Partners, we believe B2B value propositions should be rooted in 4 key areas: saving time, saving money, making money, and decreasing risk.

As an example, using the above method to define my company’s (VA Partners) value proposition, you’d get: “Venture Accelerator Partners provides strategic and tactical sales, marketing, and social media services to startups and growing organizations looking for efficient, cost-effective revenue growth.”

Along the same lines, Software Hamilton’s value proposition would be something like, “Software Hamilton is a community platform, organizer, and gathering space for members of the Greater Hamilton software community looking to connect, collaborate, and create a tight-knit tech community in Hamilton.”

After reading this post, I hope you’ll take the time to analyze your company’s value proposition. Run it through this 3 step process. It’s important to remember that a value proposition isn’t just an elevator pitch, a tagline, marketing copy, or a mission statement. It’s much, much more than that. Ultimately, creating a meaningful value proposition is a “translation game” that requires you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Features don’t matter; satisfying customer values does.

What is your company’s value proposition?

If you need help defining your company’s value proposition, please feel free to reach out to me at any time for some tips and guidance.

You can check out Joseph’s fantastic presentation here.