Earlier I introduced you to the multiple dimensions of The Pragmatic Marketing Framework and my take on the four dimensions of Market Problems . In this blog I am going to address some Framework activities that have dimensions for both the Corporate and Product/Market level. Specifically, we will look at two areas where this dynamic is very relevant, Distinctive Competences and Competitive Landscape. Market Definition shares this dynamic as well, but I will address this separately as there are more than just these two dimensions in play for Market Definition.
The core of this concept is that for some strategic related areas, there are two lenses for which we need to think and look, the corporate lens and the specific opportunity (product or market) lens. The corporate lens is looking at things across products and markets, while the specific opportunity lens is looking on a specific product or market level. For smaller companies with a limited number of products and markets these lenses may overlap. For larger companies with expansive portfolios of products and markets the overlap may or may not be a complete overlap. In my experience, the overlap is often over 50%.
“Articulating and leveraging the organization’s unique abilities to deliver value to the market” -Pragmatic Marketing.
Distinctive Competences is a foundational activity in the Pragmatic Marketing Framework. It is central to how a company differentiates itself and should be a key aspect of judging ‘strategic fit’ and defining ‘why us’ in a business case.
In my experience, both applying Pragmatic Marketing and advising and coaching clients, I have seen that Distinctive Competences can and do come from multiple levels. From a corporate side, these Distinctive Competences can be at the corporate or divisional level. These competences that can help all products and markets underneath them differentiate in the market. From a product or market side, I have also seen Distinctive Competences that are unique to that specific product or market, like market leadership, expertise or the brand.
I actually recommend to my clients that they define their Distinctive Competences at a corporate and division level (if appropriate) to ensure that the entire organization is aware and understands them, so they can be leveraged. Then, when a product manager is working on a business plan, and focused on differentiation they can tap into the corporate Distinctive Competences, while also understanding and leveraging their specific Distinctive Competences. The broader a portfolio of Distinctive Competences is, they better you can differentiate.
“Identifying competitive and alternative offerings in the market. Assess their strengths and weaknesses. Develop a strategy for winning against the competition” –Pragmatic Marketing
Competitive Landscape is core to understanding and developing a strategy for an opportunity. There is a strong interconnection with Distinctive Competences in the relationship between differentiation and a competitive strategy.
As with Distinctive Competences, Competitive Landscape can and should be done at multiple levels as there are normally two or three key competitors who we see in most of our products and markets. There are also niche competitors who we only see in specific products or markets. Therefore, we need to make sure we are viewing competition and the Competitive Landscape through both lenses.
From a corporate side, having focused research on those two or three key competitors creates a great foundation for all products and markets. Focusing on strengths and weaknesses, head to head comparisons and battle cards that can be leveraged by the entire company is a great way to provide Competitive Landscape support to the entire organization. In my past life, this was part of my first job at GE. We would face three (3) competitors in the majority of our deals and GE would have three market researchers focused on one each.
With that said, even within one of those major competitors, their strengths and weaknesses can (and normally are) different from product to product, market to market. When combining these variances with the niche competitors, product managers are using the corporate lens, but also thinking of Competitive Landscape for their specific opportunity, their product or market.
These two lenses are critical. The corporate lens needs to provide the foundation to divisions, products and markets, and the specific opportunity lens adjust the strategy to meet those market’s needs. They are interrelated, but it is critical to look at them both and separately to optimize your success.
If you want to talk about Pragmatic Marketing, Corporate versus Opportunity lenses, Distinctive Competences, or Competitive Landscape, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always enjoy talking about implementing and applying Pragmatic Marketing, and the multiple Dimensions across the Framework.
If you are new to Pragmatic Marketing here are some resources that can help you get up to speed, though I would gladly have a call with you as well.
The Pragmatic Marketing Framework can be found at https://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/framework. These are the 37 activities that are essential for managing and marketing technology and technology-enabled products.
Pragmatic Marketing’s series of eBooks can be found at https://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/ebooks
The Strategic Role of Product Management was the one I have used with many of my clients, but all of them are great.
I also recommend checking out Tuned In, the book written by Pragmatic Marketing’s Craig Stull. I have probably given more copies of this book away than any other business book. You can get it at Amazon here https://www.amazon.com/Tuned-Extraordinary-Opportunities-Business-Breakthroughs/dp/047026036X
Insights into building great products and choosing the right markets to grow.