How to Develop a New Market to Expand Your Business

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Play Bigger" by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, et al.. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why does your business need a new market? How can you develop a new market?

A new market is where you’ve created a novel solution for consumers. This type of solution isn’t just improving on other solutions because it completely alters peoples’ lives and renders old markets obsolete.

Check out how to develop a new market, according to the book Play Bigger.

Step 1: Develop a New Market

The authors write that the first step of learning how to develop a new market and become its winner is to identify your market by pinpointing an unmet need in peoples’ lives or a new way for your existing technology to fill an unmet need. At your low-tech company, you might identify the unmet need for less intrusive technology. Your market, then, becomes the market for low-tech devices. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t first create the product and then decide what its market will be, note the authors. Instead, as we’ve discussed, you must build your product, market, and company at the same time for them so they support each other and create the flywheel effect you need to become the market winner.

The authors suggest identifying an unmet need in five parts:

Part 1: Decide who will identify the unmet need. The CEO must support this effort, but someone with an outsider’s perspective—a firm or someone hired for this purpose—must spearhead it because identifying an unmet need requires a fresh outlook on the company and product. Plus, this person must be able to dedicate themselves exclusively to this work. 

(Shortform note: If your company doesn’t currently have the resources to hire an outside firm or new employee, consider recruiting trusted friends or business associates into a casual business support group. You can meet regularly and offer each other fresh perspectives on your respective business questions.)

Part 2: Conduct research on the unmet need. The person leading the work must then gather information about the company, what it does, and the market it currently occupies. They can do this by speaking to company leaders, board members, and advisors, and by researching your industry. However, this person shouldn’t ask customers for their opinions. This is because the market you’re creating will be totally new, so customers won’t yet understand the need you’re fulfilling and will give you unhelpful feedback. 

Part 3: Hold ideation meetings with leaders. Next, the leader of this work must have a (preferably day-long) meeting with company leaders to teach them about the importance of creating a new market and brainstorm how to establish the right new market. These are the topics you should brainstorm and discuss: 1) customers you want to target, 2) the problem your product solves in the new market and its solution, 3) how you can express this problem in a way that will resonate with the customer, 4) the mindset shift your customer must make to embrace your new market and product, 5) what your new product is. 

Part 4: Pick a name for the new market. During these meetings, you’ll start to identify a name for your market. Settling on a good final name may take a while, and if that final name is somewhat technical, you may need to do extra work to help customers understand it. The name should be two to three words long (for example, “low-tech tech” for your low-tech device market). 

Part 5: Create a document of your work. This should include: 1) a description of the new market, 2) the market ecosystem (the third-party developers, consultants, stores, analysts, and partners with whom you’ll work in tandem), 3) the mindset shift your customer must make to embrace your new market and product, 4) the final market name, 5) the reason for the new market.

In the case of your low-tech device company, these points might be: 1) A market for people who want less invasive technology, 2) Retailers, developers, and analysts, 3) Your customers must go from thinking that more technology is better for their lives to thinking that less technology is better for their lives, 4) “Low-tech tech,” 5) Technology has negatively affected people’s mental health, and we should be using less, not more, of it.

Step 2: Identify and Express Your Company’s Take

The authors write that once you’ve identified and developed your new market, it’s time to craft your company’s take: an identity, guiding principles, outlook, and story about how your company solves a problem differently than other companies

A take is what consumers connect to—they can identify emotionally with your principles, story, and outlook. This is especially important when establishing a new market: You must give consumers a story and identity to hold on to; otherwise, you won’t establish your company as important and different in consumers’ minds. Importantly, this take must help change consumers’ mindsets so they embrace your new solution to the old or new problem—as we discussed earlier in this guide.

A strong take separates exceptional companies from merely good ones, add the authors. You can tell when a company has a strong take because you know what the company’s about, what it stands for, and how it’s different. The authors mention Whole Foods as a company that has a strong take. Whole Foods believes in providing high-quality, environmentally minded, natural, and organic products. It solves the problem of obtaining such specialty foods in a new way: by creating an inviting, fun shopping environment in which to buy them all at once. 

Step 3: Remaining the Market Winner

Now that you’ve solidified your market in customers’ minds and made yourself that market’s winner, the authors explain how to remain the long-term market winner in two steps: 1) by expanding your market or creating another new market and 2) by establishing a flywheel effect in that market. The authors claim that you must complete the first step because e​​very company eventually reaches most customers in its market and must either create a new market or expand its current market to continue growing. Companies must do this over and over to remain market winners. For instance, you’ll eventually reach all customers who want to minimize their tech use in your low-tech devices market and might therefore expand that market to include customers who not only want to be on their phones less, but also want to use more analog products, by selling paper agendas, notepads, and so on.

Then, create a flywheel in that new market because, as we’ve discussed, a flywheel composed of aligned company, market, and product makes you the market winner. Beyond aligning company, market, and product, the authors recommend pushing the flywheel forward by strengthening your company take, holding continued events and campaigns, collecting data that lets you build better products, and hiring the right talent. Your company might thus refine its take as it grows, elaborating on the problem it helps solve. You might also ask job applicants specific questions that help determine if they’re a good cultural fit.

How to Develop a New Market to Expand Your Business

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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