What is Market Mapping? – Definition, benefits, and examples

Market Mapping helps professionals become confident decision-makers and recognized market experts by gathering and sharing market insight. In this article, we define Market Mapping, look at the benefits, and find some examples to showcase how you can adapt it to different business needs.

Our definition of market mapping

Many publications have a very narrow look at Market Mapping. Their respective area of expertise limits it.

We promote a broader definition of Market Mapping: It’s a flexible tool to understand a market landscape with a focus on the questions that are relevant to you.

A Market Map provides the information you need to achieve your business goals. That means that Market Mapping narrows your look on the insight you need. However, it’s not limited per se but supports you in finding the focus you need.

Let’s put it into a definition:

Market Mapping is a method to gather and organize relevant market insight continuously. It supports your business by providing the information you need for quality decisions and building up market expertise.

Okay, that might sound a little bit like academic blah. So let’s take a closer look at why it’s worth developing Market Maps.

The benefits of Market Mapping for your business – and you

If you boil it down, there are two main activities in business:

  1. Making decisions.
  2. Executing on the decisions you made.

Market Mapping supports you with the first.

It’s critical to have access to the information it takes to make good decisions.

If you build a market map and maintain it continuously, you always have the insight you consider relevant regarding your strategic direction. You don’t have to rely on gut feeling anymore. Instead, you can base future decisions on profound information!

That way, Market Mapping contributes to a thriving business.

You can also benefit personally.

With insight and a deep understanding of your markets, you position yourself as a subject matter expert and a go-to source of reliable information.

Whether you run your own show or work for a boss, your peers will notice that you know what you’re talking about. Customers and clients, bosses and colleagues love to work with people they can rely on.

With Market Mapping, you can be the one people ask rather than the one appearing clueless.

As you can see, having a market map as a reliable source of information can turn into a key competitive advantage for both your business and you personally.

Sounds good, but do you want to know how to put it into practice?

Let’s take a look.

Where to use it – Market Mapping examples

As I mentioned initially, Market Mapping is broad by default but allows you to narrow down what’s essential in your business. You can even have Market Maps for each target market you address or each group of market players you face:

  • Prospects, customers, or clients.
  • Direct and indirect competitors.
  • Suppliers.
  • Investors of your interest.
  • Possible acquisition targets.

As you can see, the direction of your research depends on your current priorities.

We strongly recommend not following each path but focusing on those that move the needle for your business.

If you’re looking for investors, they might be the priority. Depending on your situation, competitors or prospects might be relevant too. Suppliers will only be relevant if you depend on them heavily.

Your strategy and tactics should guide how you shape your Market Map.

We can dig a little deeper and look at examples in different areas.

Mapping competitors – Competitive intelligence with a focus

Competitive mapping is about understanding the market players you’re competing with.

If you know what they are doing, you can anticipate how their actions affect you. That’s why you should have an eye on select competitors.

But wait, why only select competitors?

Because in many cases, it’s sufficient to understand the competitive landscape. It’s not necessary to understand every detail. However, these might be the competitors to follow:

  • Your major competitor.
  • A competitor serving a strategic prospect.
  • A new competitor just entering the market.
  • Leading competitors for different market segments.

By taking a closer look at them, you can learn a lot about their market approach. This competitive analysis can help you align or differentiate, depending on your market and communication strategy.

In the Harvard Business Review, Richard D’Aveni promotes a quantitative approach to comparing your positioning with your competitors’. However, we advocate for a more tailorable method to specific business goals.

Are you thinking about sales research rather than looking at your competition?

Well, then …

Market Mapping for sales prospecting and market segmentation

If you research “Market Mapping”, you find very different interpretations ranging from simple graphical market segmentation to visualizing the geographical distribution of potential customers. With a B2C focus, a demographic segmentation of customers is sometimes also called Market Mapping.

We’re looking at a B2B oriented Market Mapping for sales prospecting, focusing on individual higher-valued accounts. This perspective leads obviously to different demands compared to prospects for commodity goods.

For successful key account management, it’s vital to be well-informed about the respective accounts. It is crucial to understand their activities and use up-to-date insight to tailor your communication and proposals.

That’s why gathering information continuously is an essential task for sales managers who want to deepen their relationships with their key customers.

Also, similar to the competitor perspective, an industry Market Mapping that discovers relevant trends and developments can uncover information pertinent to bring more value to your prospects and customers. You can use the insight to seek opportunities actively.

We talked about competitors and customers.

Now, what’s their shared interest?

Products.

Supporting your product management – mapping products

Instead of organizations and their activities, market mapping can also focus on products.

The most common is to look at product features, pricing, or complimentary services. They express both the competition’s market approach and the market’s demand.

That’s why it can be helpful to focus on product mapping whenever you want to develop new product lines or try to find inspiration in other markets you can learn from.

Apart from products, communication is an increasingly important task. Can Market Mapping help you there too?

A deeper understanding to shape your messaging – mapping your audience

Communication – especially online communication – has become a noisy field.

However, if you want to reach your target audience, you need to answer several questions:

  • Where does your audience hang out?
  • What is your target group talking about?
  • How does your target audience articulate their wishes and needs?
  • Who influences your market’s worldview?

Having profound knowledge regarding your markets’ communication is a basis for tailoring your messaging. It can also provide significant input to share inside your organization.

And there is another area I want to mention: Market Mapping to support recruitment processes.

The next hire – market mapping in recruitment

The focus of market mapping in the recruiting context is very different from the one I promote in this article. However, to show the various interpretations of the term, let’s also look at it.

Recruitment Market Mapping is about checking the market for talent available.

The focus of Market Mapping in recruitment is more on short-term identification of prospects for vacancies rather than ongoing surveillance of a market to gain insight for your decision-making.

Though this is a relevant approach, it’s pretty different from our focus. That’s why I don’t want to dig any deeper.

What’s your focus for Market Mapping

As you can see, Market Maps can support you in different areas of your business.

After deciding which business goals to support, you can choose how to shape them.

Then, you can get started. It’s easier than you might think.

Oh, you want to know how?

I’m glad you asked …

How does Market Mapping work?

Okay, now that you’re getting an idea of Market Mapping, you want to know how it works, right?!

I’ll give you a quick overview of the Market Mapping process. We can dig deeper in subsequent posts. The steps are:

  1. Define who you want to look at and what information is relevant according to your business goals.
  2. Collect some basic information to identify the market players of interest and their relevant communication channels.
  3. Start gathering and organizing relevant updates continually.
  4. Access your Market Map whenever you need the insight to support your decisions.

You can start collecting information using a text document or a spreadsheet. However, if you’re serious about it, we recommend using a dedicated tool like Picasi. It can help you automate some tasks, support data collection and organization, and make the insight accessible easily.

Now it’s your turn to give it a try

Great. You now have a good understanding of what Market Mapping is.

However, reading is theory.

Doing is gold.

Set yourself up for more success with deeper market insight.

We’re developing a software to bring you up to speed quickly. Click the button and give it a try.

Frequently Asked Questions

Market Mapping is a method to gather and organize relevant market insight continuously. It supports your business by providing the information you need for quality decisions and building up market expertise.

Market Mapping and market research overlap as both focus on getting to know a market better. However, market research is often understood with a more quantitative perspective on mass markets. For Market Mapping, the approach is a more qualitative view of fewer market players.

A simple Market Map with a focus on competitors can list the major competitors of your business. It includes master data about the competitors combined with selected updates from their communication channels. You choose all information within the Market Map according to its relevance to your business goals.
Market Mapping is a straightforward approach to collecting market insight over time to build a knowledge base for decision making. Solopreneurs and startups can maintain market maps and teams in larger companies. A Market Map makes it easy to share the insight inside your organization or externally, even as a service.

Market Mapping requires the following steps:

  1. Define who and what to look at.
  2. Collect some basic information about the market players.
  3. Gathering relevant updates over time.
  4. Access your Market Map whenever you need the insight to support your decisions.
A market map should include the market players and contain relevant information according to your business goals. However, we recommend starting small and expanding your market map step by step rather than trying to capture every bit of insight and drowning in an information overflow.
Market Mapping helps your business by increasing your understanding of the market while working on it and providing instant access to shareable market information whenever you have to decide.
A Market Map’s objective is to provide the information you need to reach your business goals. It’s a tool to support you with your objectives. It doesn’t have its own purpose.
Small businesses can scale their Market Maps according to their needs and possibilities. Rather than buying expensive market data externally, Market Mapping is an internal process to gather the insight you need. Focusing on relevance makes sure that even small businesses can handle the process.
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