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When you’re writing your landscape analysis, at some point you’re going to write your key takeaways, and this comes from all the information that you’ve collected from different sources based on the objective of your landscape analysis. So today I want to give you a few tips about how to gather those key takeaways and how to sort through all the information you’ve collected.
Tips for Gathering Information
A few tips just to start things off.
Collect as much information as you can from all the people that you meet, all the files you’re looking into, and all the sources you’re searching through.
Once you get all this information, you don’t want one big pile of stuff, so get yourself organized. It can be as simple as stacking similar objects together around your office or using a digital folder structure. But you want to start to put similar information all into one place so you have a sense of what you have.
Many times when we’re writing a strategic document, we sit at our computer and start typing things. But that’s not the best way to sort through information. One of the things you want to look for are the patterns. You want to connect the dots and put different things together that go together, look for the patterns, and come up with key takeaways that are a bit more helpful than just regurgitating a pile of information. Lay everything out, make stacks, sort things, make notes, put things together physically in the room. It makes it easier to see those different patterns and connect those dots.
At some point you’re going to realize that you’re getting diminishing returns. You might collect more and more information, but it appears that that information is similar to a lot of what you’ve already gathered, and at that point you’re not learning anything new. This is when you need to make yourself stop collecting and start whittling things down to look for those key takeaways.
Understand the Audience
You don’t know what to look for unless you understand the audience that you will present to and what their questions and concerns are. Once you know those things, then you have a better sense of what to look for as you’re examining the information you’ve collected.
Tips for Landscape Analysis Takeaways
Now that you’ve organized the information, the next thing is to determine what’s important in all of this information—what are the key takeaways you want to bring to the surface when you write that landscape analysis. Here are some tips for pulling out those takeaways.
Cover Page Takeaway Method
One helpful method I’ve found is to collect takeaways by document. From all the information you’ve collected, cherry pick a few choice documents that you think might have the best information or the best key takeaways inside of them. Read through each of those documents and place a cover page on each document.
For example, let’s say that a document you’re reading is a consumer research report. Read through the entire document and mark the few things that you think are the most important takeaways (ideally three to five). Then, write each of those takeaways on your cover sheet for that document.
One other thing you might want to note are questions for further investigation. Maybe you have a key question that you want to follow up on. So on your cover page, you’ve got the most important takeaways from that single source. Do this for each of the documents that you’ve selected.
Once you’ve done that with a number of documents, take out a single sheet of paper—or you can do this inside of PowerPoint or Keynote using an outline view. Write out all of the key takeaways from the cover pages to create a general outline. What you’re really doing here is writing your headlines. You can start to order them and, in effect, you are creating your presentation outline. Now you’ve got a substantial head start on what you need to fill in to create your landscape analysis.
Pre-sort Takeaway Method
You may come across some documents that are not so clear-cut. For example, you may have a document that is a collection of many things: a little bit of consumer research, a little bit of competitive information, a little bit of information about technologies, and it’s all mixed up. Here you’ll want to pre-sort.
Print out these documents and start separating pages, putting similar objects together. So regroup all the consumer slides together, all the trend slides together, and all the technical research slides together, even though they’re coming from different documents.
Now you have stacks of similar information that have come from different sources. This makes your work easier because now you can take these and do exactly what we talked about in cover page takeaway collection.
Use these tips to collect takeaways from the documents that you’ve gathered, and you now have a way to break it all down and get to a working outline of headlines for your landscape analysis.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow Kevin on LinkedIn.