After a while, even the most innovative services offerings begin to lose some of their appeal, ultimately being perceived as commodity-like offerings, rather than as representing a differentiated portfolio. What was initially offered to the market as a specialized service, often without much competition, soon becomes just another service commodity positioned ineffectively among scores of increasingly competitive offerings.
Regardless of your organization’s market share or position, it is important to gauge exactly where your services portfolio stands at any given point in time with respect to the perceptions – and expectations – of your targeted market base. In most cases, it is the new, innovative upstart companies that are typically conducting the bulk of the market research and competitive intelligence prior to launching their new products and services, not necessarily the companies that are still selling their older commodity-like offerings.
However, there may still be a great deal of life left in the more mature business lines that comprise the majority of your company’s product or services portfolio. Even better, these lines tend to already be “tried and true” with respect to market acceptance, and may only need a gentle marketing or promotional “push” every once in awhile to stimulate additional market interest and sales. Even NASA uses a “mid-course correction” every now and then to ensure that the rocket gets to the proper destination!
There are many ways in which a business can determine exactly how much “kick” its services offerings still have in them, or, conversely, whether it is time to “kick” some of them out of the portfolio altogether and replace them with newer, more innovative and technologically-competitive lines.
The path recommended to evaluate the overall health of your present portfolio of services, is to conduct a strategic business assessment that focuses on:
- An assessment of your customers’ – and the market’s – perceptions, needs, requirements, preferences and expectations with respect to your existing portfolio of services offerings.
- The specific features and characteristics (e.g., attributes, benefits, value, cost, etc.) that currently define your services lines, and what it will likely take to “ramp them up” to the new and/or emerging market requirements (i.e., the Three R’s: Refine, Re-design and/or Re-package).
- Customer/market perceptions and opinions regarding the current quality and performance of the services offered – both from your organization and its competitors.
- A set of recommended improvements to your existing portfolio in order to better position it against the competition, and to maximize both sales potential and ongoing customer satisfaction.
The assessment and evaluation of the findings from such a study would be extremely useful in terms of providing your company management with the strategic, marketing and promotional tools it needs to:
- Identify the basic customer/market needs, requirements, preferences and perceptions that can be used to assess and “fine tune” the overall strategic market positioning of the organization’s existing service lines.
- Ensure that the company is effectively marketing the right services; to the right market segments; by communicating the right marketing, branding, and promotional messages; all through the right media.
- Modify and enhance existing product/service lines to address the highest levels of customer and market demands.
- Develop new products and/or services to address the emerging needs and requirements of both the existing and prospective customer bases.
- Identify and cultivate the most attractive target markets based on identified patterns of customer decision-making and purchase behaviors, and product preferences and perceptions.
- Strengthen the company’s overall product/service awareness and image, advertising and promotion, and sales activities through the execution of the recommended refinements, enhancements and/or modifications based on the study findings.
While your present business lines are probably the key factors that helped your company grow to its current size and market position, they may have become “dusty” over the years and may now be in need of a good “dusting off” – or even, retirement.
Putting a “cash cow” off to pasture before it is time can cost your company a great deal of money in terms of lost potential. However, keeping it on once it’s gone “dry” may cost you even more in the long run in terms of giving your company a perceived market image as being less than innovative, or no longer offering anything more than commodity-like products and services.
Assessing where your product and services portfolio currently stand in terms of market perceptions, and your ability to meet the market’s – and your customers’ – changing and evolving needs, will allow you to determine just how much “dust” has collected on your existing offerings – as well as what you will need to “dust off” in order to compete more effectively.