Throughout my career I have had great success working with industry influencers to identify, create, and redefine market opportunities for my employers.
Drawing back on a few underlining themes in my previous posts - success here hinges on the ability to understand the objectives, business model, and strategy associated with the ‘business idea.’ Examples of some key questions to explore are:
- What is the problem or market need, to be addressed?
- How does our product or service solve the problem/address the need?
- What is the significance of this problem in the market (low, moderate, high)?
- Who are the people/organizations directly/indirectly affected by the problem?
- How will we deliver the product or service (channel/OEM; direct; region specific; focus on vertical industries; etc)?
- Who makes the decision to purchase the product/service and how are they influenced?
These are examples of some basic ‘exploratory’ questions that will help identify the types of influencers to engage with as you establish a strategy to create/redefine a market opportunity for your company’s business idea.
The next step is to research and qualify potential influencer partners.
You will likely need to work with a mix of influencers to effectively educate the market (on the identified problem) and advocate your solution as the best way to solve/address it (e.g. issues-based thought leaders, business gurus, customers, partners, media, academia, bloggers, consultants, community leaders, professional associations, etc.).
It is important to engage with a core group of the most important influencers as early as possible to help validate the market opportunity, your business approach, and to validate your overall messaging and positioning platform. This early engagement will help to harden your strategy as you prepare to ‘go-to-market.’ The further in advance you engage the greater your ability to secure buy-in and advocacy from the core set of influencers.
It is also important to understand the business and influence models of each influencer type (how do they make money and how do they educate the market?) and create appropriate forms of partnership that provide incentive for them to work with you. As an example, traditional IT industry analysts make money on subscription to research, revenue from events, consulting engagements with customers, and general 1:1 advisory meetings. Analysts educate the market through written research, presentations, 1:1 conversations, and through the press. Every influencer type has a varied business and influence model that is important to understand as you determine your specific engagement strategy.
Early engagement allows bi-directional influence of the ‘idea.’ If managed successfully, your influencers will take some ownership of the ‘idea’ and your ability to address the market need. Their ‘idea ownership’ creates inherent advocacy driven through their own thought leadership platforms allowing them to provide greater insight, education and advice to potential buyers in the market which in the IT industry anlayst example - drives business for them.
By doing this right, you will enable your company’s efforts to grow a great business.
No mater what industry you are in, this is an approach that will lend itself to great outcomes.