Sunday, February 15, 2009

Product development and SPM

The market research an MFI conducts for product development provides another potential integration point with Social Performance Management (SPM). This occurs because market research for product development and for social performance should answer the same questions:
  1. What do the clients need the product/service for?
  2. What do the clients actually use the product/service for?
  3. What benefits do the clients get or perceive they get from the product/service?

In the case of marketing, the MFI would use the answers to the above questions to develop a product which appeals to a broad base, and to properly sell and market the product. Social performance management systems use the same information to ensure there is a "match" between uses, needs, and benefits and the MFI's social mission.

In an integrated marketing program, the above information will flow through throughout the company - downward to loan officers so they can sell the benefits of the product and upward to management to market the products properly. In a social performance management system the same data will also flow up and down the MFI's hierarchy, but it will be used to ensure the product serves the MFI's mission. I.e., management will take that information to check that the uses, needs and benefits fulfilled by the new product are having the desired impact. Similarly, loan officers will report back their observations in the field - are the clients really benefiting as the research says they are? Is the new product being used for the purposes the research describes?

One set of data - two different uses. With such synergies, it seems foolish for MFIs with social performance management systems not to get "double use" out of their data through integrated marketing, and vice versa.

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