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.

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

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.

How you and your business benefit from Market Mapping insight

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

  1. Making decisions.
  2. Executing the decisions you made.
The benefits of Market Mapping

Market Mapping supports you with the first.

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

If you continuously build and maintain a market map, 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, 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 information source can become 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.
Where to use Market Mapping

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.

Knowing what they are doing lets you 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.

You can learn a lot about their market approach by closely examining them. 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, customer demographic segmentation is sometimes called Market Mapping.

We’re looking at 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.

Being well-informed about the respective accounts is vital for successful key account management. Understanding their activities and using up-to-date insight to tailor your communication and proposals is crucial.

That’s why continuously gathering information is essential 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?


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.

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.
How does Market Mapping work?

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.

To get started, you can also check out our 5 steps to kick off Market Mapping.

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 software to bring you up to speed quickly. Give it a try now.

Sharing is caring. Please share your new insight with your network:
Written by Karsten Richter

Obsessed about finding mission-critical information nuggets that can change your business. To make it easier, he's building Picasi together with Helge. Experienced practitioner holding a Ph. D. in communication science.

Always happy to help.

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