We’ve recently introduced a new technology to help organizations manage their technology selection. However, we’ve found that, just like any new software market, people were slow to adopt and were okay with their current methods (lots of emails and spreadsheets). Much like marketing automation software a few years ago, there was slower adoption but now it’s the most sought after marketing technology next to CRM.

To solve this challenge, we’ve discovered a key strategy that helps on a variety of fronts. It starts by positioning your target market/audience as experts. The following applies to organizations in any stage as building relationships with experts/influencers will help elevate business performance.

There are some key advantages and opportunities when you position your audience as experts:

1)    Your target audience can help you create a ton of marketing collateral that will help educate the market as a whole. However, to get that information, you need to get on their good side. We’ve found that asking for their expert feedback AND rewarded them for it has a variety of upsides. An excellent way this is done is by using short surveys to get quantitative analysis. You can then build reports, infographics and get the citations you need to grow awareness.

2)    By getting your target market to engage with a formal feedback exercise, you’re building up a list of prospective customers. In follow-up correspondence, continue to let them educate you on their own expert opinions. By opening them up about the challenges they face, you’ll soon be able to introduce the solution to those challenges. It’s important that you don’t just do email follow-ups. Get on the phone with these people – the information you gather and relationships you build is key to your success.

3)    Letting your target audience know you value them as an expert will get them on your side. Another positive side effect is that they’ll share and socialize on your behalf. The social proof from veterans in your industry (that are not company representatives) provides a powerful lift to your social/market presence. People don’t always trust company messaging. However, having validation from outside parties tends to have a positive influence. Keep in mind that you may want to continue to incentivize sharing as you’re investing in growing awareness and using experts and influencers to accelerate that.

4)    If you’re offering complimentary use of your product/service, you’ll also be getting valuable feedback for future research & development projects. Make sure you not only offer the free use, but confirm that part of the exchange is completing some type of questionnaire around their experience with the product or service.

In our experience, this one outreach and communication strategy of polling our audience as experts contributed to key areas of our business: marketing, sales and product feedback/R&D. We now have a better understanding of what our target audience thinks about technology selection management. We can continue to build our marketing and messaging around the experience and feedback as veterans in the practice.

If you’ve done a similar strategy, what benefits did you get from working with your target audience as experts in your industry?