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How to Dodge Common Mistakes in Go-to-Market Planning Using HUMINT-based Competitive Intelligence

In today’s highly competitive business environment, product success greatly depends on how strong a go-to-market (GTM) strategy is. Strong GTM strategies include a variety of steps in order to properly enter and succeed in the marketplace. One crucial step is a Competitive Intelligence program, which is a deep analysis of the supply and demand sides of the target market. Human Intelligence (HUMINT) relies on human resources, including interviews with ex-employees of your competitors, interviews with employees in customers’ organizations, and interviews with employees in third parties companies like distributors, system integrators, and technology partners.

This article explores the main common GTM mistakes and how Competitive Intelligence, specifically HUMINT-based, can help prevent your business from falling victim to these oversights.

1. Failing to Identify the Right Audience

Up-to-date market research is essential for crafting a GTM strategy. Without being able to identify the target market, you cannot understand what the needs and preferences of the market are and grasp its competitive landscape. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing strategy can lead to ineffective messaging and a lack of resonance with your target market.

The mistake occurs when the messaging does not address the specific pain points and priorities of different customer segments. For example, end users may be more interested in the features and functionality of a product, while decision-makers are focused on the overall business impact and return on investment.

A perfect way to dodge this mistake is a Vendors Perception Survey, which is an accurate method to thoroughly understand your target audience and develop tailored messaging that speaks directly to their needs and motivations.

A Vendors Perception Survey is one type of HUMINT-based competitive intelligence tool that can be used to gather valuable insights about your competitors in the market. By surveying customers about their experiences with different vendors in the market, you can gain valuable intelligence on your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and customer perceptions.

Here's how a Vendors Perception Survey can help you learn about your competitors and dodge the mistake of failing to identify the right audience:

  • Identify your competitors' strengths and weaknesses

  • Understand your competitors' target audience

  • Tailor your messaging and positioning

  • Enhance your competitive strategy

2. Implementing Inaccurate Product Launch Strategy

The first product-related error is not planning measuring and tracking results prior to release. Hypothesis testing, setting measurable goals, and evaluating the data must occur prior to releasing a product in order to prove that your product will succeed. This is a commonly overlooked step as it requires time, effort, and lots of product refining, but ultimately leads to significantly higher success rates.

Another error can be rushing production. If you enter a market with an ordinary, underwhelming product due to a rush in production, the product will inevitably fail. Rushing production can lead to poor quality, reliability issues, marketing challenges, and cost increases.

HUMINT can help in product development and production by gathering information revealing under-the-radar information about competitors’ technological deficiencies and strengths and even product roadmaps. For example, if competitors are soon releasing an upgrade of a module that is similar to your product functionality, releasing faster may be essential if the quality of the product is already strong enough, or delaying if not. Sampling customers of your competitors in the target market can also assist in determining how to develop the right methods to compare performance to other vendors in the market and as they are a direct avenue to understand marketplace needs and supply. Accurate CI will identify production bottlenecks, which impede the pace of production.

3. Launching a Weak Product-Market Fit

It cannot be stressed enough that neglecting to ensure that your market-product-fit plan addresses competitors' deficiencies is a critical mistake in your go-to-market strategy planning. Creating a strong customer value proposition (CVP) depends on identifying a clear target market, differentiating from the competition, effectively communicating product benefits, and generating interest and excitement using persuasive marketing techniques. However, a product's success and profitability depend on how well it fits its target customers' needs by addressing competitors' deficiencies. If a product fails to do so, it is likely to fail as well. Therefore, a good product-market fit is essential to satisfy strong demand and increase the product's chances of success. All of these factors play an equally important role, and neglecting any one of them can be detrimental to your product's growth and profitability.

To avoid ineffective product positioning and create a strong CVP and accurate Product Market Fit, HUMINT methodology, particularly conducting interviews with ex-employees of your competitors, is key to success. These interviews can help you understand how your competitors position their products and identify both market opportunities and threats. Ex-employees often reveal insights about the marketing tactics that resonate with customers in your target market. By gaining a deeper understanding of your competitors' strategies through HUMINT interviews, you can formulate your own product positioning and differentiate yourself effectively, in addition to finding strong marketing techniques and refining your target market. Ex-employees will also provide you with insights into the demand of the market to help increase product-market fit.

Conclusion There are many crucial steps required to successfully enter a market. All of these processes work hand-in-hand and must be completed to give your product a high chance of success and also help your business gain an advantage in its market. By understanding these mistakes, businesses can actionably avoid them and increase their odds of success. HUMINT is a valuable and essential tool in preventing GTM mistakes by providing businesses with insights into their target market, the competitive landscape, and the potential risks and challenges associated with a new product or service. By gathering information from a plethora of sources, HUMINT will aid businesses in making more informed decisions about product development and launch strategies.

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