When trying to find potential customers for your new product or service, typically you would start by evaluating companies to find the right fit. Next, you might look closely at individuals in the company with certain job titles ─ the people who would be in the market for your new product. But what if your new product was something so different that it didn’t have mass appeal? A product that is so specialized that it would really resonate with certain types of people. How do you find those people?
Sometimes it’s not enough to look at job titles; sometimes you need to dig a little deeper into the type of person and search for the personality that would be open to your message.
We recently worked with a bio-science company that truly had a game-changing, disruptive technology. A technology that challenged the status quo of the market. An innovation that, when applied to the formulation of end products, improved product performance, reduced health and safety risks, and was more environmentally friendly than competitive offerings.
The best fit for this technology are innovators who are willing to challenge the market.
Our task was to answer this question: In this market space, who are the right companies and what individuals within those companies are willing to challenge the market and share the product story?
First, find the potential customer.
It’s not unusual in the B2B world for companies to be risk-averse. However, in any given market, there is generally a company that is considered the innovator. The company that is always looking for a competitive advantage and is more likely than the others to be the early adopter. It is generally the company that is listening to customer issues, watching the leading edge of the industry’s technology roadmap, following market trends and staying on top of the regulatory environment.
Identifying the innovative companies in the given market involved surveying the industries’ information sources and trade groups, conducting audits of company websites, reviewing industry analyst sites and engaging industry insiders in “depth” interviews. In this situation, we learned it wasn’t the market sales leaders who were the innovators; they were vested in advocating for the status quo. The target companies were identified as the mid-market players.
Next, find your champion.
Going to the next level and finding the champions of innovation within those companies – which is the key to success for a “challenger marketer” – was more difficult. Our discovery showed that job title wasn’t the clear indicator of those individuals. The innovation champion could be a lab technician, the technical director, the VP of marketing and sales or the CEO. The role often varied depending on the size of the company.
We ultimately developed a persona for our target audience called the “technology explorer.” This person makes the decision to evaluate a new disruptive technology because it has the potential to build competitive advantage – improving product performance, solving a problem, addressing a market need or dramatically changing a market landscape. Our discovery showed that if you connect with technology explorers, you need to be prepared to partner with them. They expect you to support them as they proceed through lab testing, prototyping, field testing, etc.
The end result was our client gained valuable insight into the best companies and individuals for their product and message … before making the larger investment in the marketing tactics themselves. What’s more, they gained deeper insight into how their target audience would want to engage with them, so they could prepare their organization properly.
When trying to find the right customer for your product or service, consider researching beyond market, company and job title. Not everyone with the same job title has the same personality, interests and agenda, so take the time to identify the types of individuals who would be open to your offer. You’ll find that your messaging resonates much better with them.