I know… Another blog about the habits of highly successful people. A quick google search will result in hundreds of “habits of highly successful___” pieces focusing on the life/work/morning/weekend/etc. habits of highly successful people/students/professionals/leaders/etc. The fact is, publishing lists of over-simplified advice has proven to be a solid formula, as these blogs are easy to read, easy to write, and are guaranteed to get clicks. Some might even say it’s a highly effective blog writing formula 😉

That said, our clients’ success is very important at gap intelligence, and despite the gimmicky approach, my intention is that readers (including current and future clients) use this blog as a blueprint for creating and maintaining world class market insight organizational habits.

Scrabble tiles spelling "habbits"
Image Credit: amazonaws.com

After over a decade on the analyst side of gap intelligence and several months on the gap sales team, seven key habits have become evident among the clients that most effectively integrate market insights across their organizations and most successfully use this information to achieve industry leadership.

1. They Focus on their Core Business

Nearly all of our clients develop, market, and sell technology products. However, the commonality among our most successful clients is that they have an unwavering focus on these functions and refuse to spend their teams’ time and energy in ways that do not directly contribute to their core business. Of course, leveraging market and competitive insights is vital to performing well in each of the above areas, but our most successful clients know the difference between applying research and performing the research themselves. Our clients who get it know that their teams’ time is better spent doing their jobs (selling/marketing/managing/etc.) than collecting and organizing data. 

2. They Take Big, But Calculated Risks

Our very best clients are true risk takers. They are the creators and disruptors of categories, and as a result, they are generally the leaders of industries. That said, our most successful clients are far from reckless. They do their up-front homework and measure as-they-go, leveraging our data and insights to identify opportunities, create/execute strategies, and pivot when necessary. 

3. They Seek a Holistic Perspective

Most gap clients leverage a broad range of market insights, yes even from other firms, but the very best companies combine these sources to achieve a holistic understanding of their markets. They pair unit sales numbers with gap data and analysis to understand the “why” behind their channel wins and losses. They combine data on above-the-line marketing activity (e.g. TV, radio, outdoor advertising) with gap channel 4Ps data to understand the impact of overall marketing activities on sales results. And they seek multiple internal and external perspectives when making important strategic decisions. Our most successful clients do this because they know that if they are able to gain a true understanding of the state of their markets and can predict the effectiveness of their potential actions, they are best positioned to create and execute a winning strategy.

4. They Give Feedback

Among other things, Steve Jobs is famous for saying that “customers don’t know what they want,” and although this is sometimes true, we’ve found that the very best gap clients at least know their goal and communicate with us to ensure that their market intelligence needs are met. They tell us what they need, how they need it, and what they are trying to achieve. Because of this proactive feedback, our most successful clients get what they need from us early in their strategic process and are able to make the right decisions at the right time.

I have to admit that gap benefits from this feedback as well, as many of our most valuable innovations and service expansions have come as a direct result of our clients telling us how to help them make better decisions. Our most successful product ever, gapTCO, originated from a client request (even though the requesting client was the 8th manufacturer to subscribe) and our latest and next Market Intelligence categories to launch (Smart Wrist Wearables and Vacuums, respectively) were both inspired by client service expansion requests. 

5. They Seek Feedback

We constantly field gapConsulting requests on subjects ranging from competitor activities to major channel and technology trends (491 gapConsulting projects in 2016). However, our most successful clients make sure that they understand one additional angle. They seek analysis on their own performance and request feedback on the best ways to use our services, as they understand that the ideas and inspiration needed to achieve true industry leadership generally come from within an organization, not from watching the competition.

6. They Share Information

Large enterprises are inherently siloed, making the open and efficient sharing of information both crucial and difficult to achieve. However, the very best gap clients excel at sharing information across their organization. They create processes and platforms to keep their workforce informed, they proactively distribute intelligence across teams, and they encourage open access to gap services and analysts across all of their teams and roles.

7. They Continuously Evolve

When gap intelligence began operations (14 years ago this week!) our market intelligence services were primarily delivered in a weekly Excel-based report and a weekly email newsletter-style report. And today… our market intelligence services are still delivered in a weekly Excel-based report and a weekly email newsletter. However, we’ve of course evolved our offerings and our most successful clients have evolved along with us. The most successful clients are the most likely to integrate our data into their analysis and visualization platforms (e.g. Tableau, R, or PowerBI), they tap into our API to directly feed gap data into their vital workflows, and they are the most common users of the tools and widgets on the gapintelligence.com Dashboard.

Boy wearing a fake rocket.

Some may view this blog as a seven-point gap intelligence advertisement, and this interpretation would be half correct. However, I feel strongly that these industry-proven habits should be adopted by any company, regardless of if they will ever be a gap client. 

The rules of business have changed at the expense of historical industry cornerstones (brand strength, manufacturing and logistical capabilities, channel presence to name a few) and long-term market leadership is increasingly being dictated by how well companies use the information available to them to come up with great ideas and make great decisions. The good news is these seven habits are very achievable, arguably more achievable than many of the effective personal habits that you might see online, and the organizations that do chose to evolve their market insight habits are sure to enjoy a decision-making advantage well into the future.