Although there have been a wide variety of interesting course offerings at Main Street 2.0 so far, I’ve been waiting for the work session titled “Discussing the Next Generation of Market Analysis for Main Street”. Instead of the typcial hour and a half lecture format, this session was a bunch of my peers sitting around tables sharing their experiences with market analysis.
It was, at the very least, interesting to hear folks from Charleston to Milwakuee say that too often studies gather dust on shelves, people from Wisconsin to Oregon say that they wanted to go beyond raw data to specific strategies in their market work, and attendees from communities large and small say that marketing plans should be based on actual assets rather than hoped-for achievements.
The facilitators were Todd Barman from the National Main Street Center, Bill Ryan and Matt Kures of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, and Jill Clark from Ohio State University. They told us that they were currently involved in a national effort to rethink the long-standard approach to market analysis. These discussions include determining the most effective balance between community input and professional expertise, breaking market analysis into smaller segments and/or shorter phases, and retooling basic assumptions for the current economic conditions.
The forty or so participants broke into four groups and looked at barriers to successful market analysis, common methodologies for market analysis, and the use of the results of market analysis. The groups then shared their ideas with the entire gathering.
All agreed that the goal is not to complete a market study. Our ultimate objectives are to improve sales, stimulate business expansion, and develop unifying strategies.
My Blandin Buddies will appreciate that we concluded that the key is framing the questions. Essentially your market analysis should answer those questions.
As the session ended, I thought about the questions that immediately came to my mind. They were: 1) who is and/or would be attracted to our offerings?, 2) what could we add that would enhance our mix of offerings?, and 3) how do we most efficiently and effectively reach our actual and potential market?
Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me when I get back to Northfield. Good thing I’ve got plenty of help.