by Jaime Tinker, Market Intelligence Analyst at Falmouth University

Strong understanding of a market can help accelerate your success within it. Or, equally importantly, can save you a lot of time, effort and money! Thorough knowledge of your market is critical to all types of business but amidst the thrill of the chase – the daily toil – is often an element overlooked.

However, in an increasingly data-driven age this is changing. Founders are more and more challenged on their understanding of a market, marketers rely more heavily on it, and customers are certainly acutely aware of it.

Jaime Tinker

Market intelligence is often presented in an overcomplicated light, and to some extent understandably given the vast and ever-increasing range of market research tools and techniques available. As a result though, for some it loiters as an uncompleted task, weighing slightly on the back of the mind.

For me, market intelligence is something for confirming assumptions or informing decisions. Simple as that. And that is how it needs to be thought of in early conversations within business. It should also be viewed as a dynamic process, rather than a static exercise.

Too commonly data is still collected for the sake of collecting data. The starting point should always be – What is the question we want answering that will help move the business forward?

For some this question is about the size of a particular opportunity, for others it is who they should sell to, or crucially, what they should charge.

Whatever the question, it determines what data is needed and as a result, how to get hold of it.

Once the right tool(s) have been identified the challenge switches to ensuring that the data gathered is reliable and valid.

Turning the data into actual insight is the next step and it is here where a good analyst, or indeed a savvy serial entrepreneur, really earns their keep. These insights can identify opportunities, they can detect risks (and help mitigate them). But, above all they should provide confidence – confidence to act – one way or another.

Jaime Tinker is a Market Intelligence Analyst for the Launchpad Outreach programme and his time is dedicated to supporting Cornish SMEs understand potential market opportunities. Visit the Falmouth University website for more information on the programme.