Today’s hot new markets will evaporate tomorrow. Even if sales are booming, smart businesses are constantly looking ahead to develop new markets. Walmart is selling groceries, McDonald’s is selling lattes. Small businesses are also scrambling for new ideas, and frozen yogurt franchises are springing up everywhere. Even if you’re not in the grocery, latte or frozen yogurt businesses, competition is closing in. In this environment, brainstorming, inventing and creating new markets are critical activities for survival.
We are not all equally creative. But we can all take a creative look at our businesses and explore new opportunities. The market has six basic components: products, customers, location, marketing, sales channels and price. Each of these can be either unchanged from the way they are now, or we can explore the effects of changing one or more of them.
For example, if you own a coffee shop, what opportunities would arise if you changed your product line, and added ice cream? You might appeal to new customers, such as moms with small children. This might cause you to advertise in new places, with a different type of ad. With ice cream in the shop, you could offer specialty ice cream mocha drinks. You might decide that your location is no longer the best, and may move to a place with better visibility in the summer months, when ice cream sales are up.
Or, as a coffee shop owner, you might want to explore a different type of location. You might want to give up the storefront and go into the mobile coffee truck business. You might be able to add new products, such as sandwiches and hot meals, or offer onsite coffee to workplaces and construction crews. You might be able to drop your price, or you might raise your price because of the added convenience for your customers. One change can trigger a whole spectrum of possibilities for your business.
Click here to download the “Brainstorming the Market” worksheet. This has twelve cells, covering current and new products, customers, locations, marketing, sales and pricing. Pick any one of the cells, and circle it. This is your anchor cell. If it is a current item, write down your current position. If it is a new item, write down what your new idea is for this area. With the anchor cell as your focus, think about the impact this has and the opportunities you see in the other eleven cells. Write down all your ideas and thoughts.
Look at the completed worksheet and see if anything looks really interesting. Repeat the exercise using different cells and different ideas. Experiment and combine ideas. When you have something ready to launch, try it out. It may not work as you expected, or it may be a terrific success. Either way, take what you learned and apply it to the next worksheets you do.
Innovate, invent and explore new market opportunities. Use the worksheet to open the door to new ideas. The possibilities and the potential are infinite; take advantage of them!