By Linda Forrest
My colleagues have been writing about the role of champions in bringing technology to market, examining the role internal and external champions play in determining the market success of your product. I’d like to examine a subset of the external group: media and analysts. What role can these influencers play in championing your burgeoning technology?
Let’s look first at a few of the ways the media can champion your product or company.
Being covered by the media
In a recent post, Leo and Francis wrote the following:
If [entrepreneurs and inventors] want to realise the commercial potential of what they have at hand, they must actively engage with their marketplace to validate their idea, ensure it is addressing a clear market need and connect with the champions who can help them move ahead.
In some ways, media gatekeepers are the archetypal champion for your technology. If they choose to cover you, it tells the market that your product is interesting enough, viable from their perspective and fulfils some need in the market, otherwise the reporter or editor would not put their reputation on the line by validating your “science project” in the limited editorial space they have. The degree to which the media champions you within the marketplace depends on a lot of factors, but should you make it past that first hurdle of getting covered by that first influential reporter or outlet, you’re on your way and it could be the first of many times you’re covered.
How aware influential media is of your company and your story is up to your PR team. One of our mantras at inmedia is that with us, your whole story gets told. Our team consists only of senior practitioners and we learn all aspects of your business and technology story so that we can cultivate those relationships with media that are crucial to ongoing coverage; published opportunities listed on editorial calendars are but the tip of the iceberg. Companies and thus their coverage opportunities are dynamic and a good PR team will find a multitude of ways to secure ongoing coverage for their clients.
Establishing your position in the marketplace
Coverage doesn’t need to be devoted exclusively to your technology or company in order to be highly valuable. When your product is included in product roundups that list all similar solutions, it positions you within the marketplace in the eyes of the reader of that media coverage. Something as simple as your product’s name appearing in a list can move your company from an unknown to a contender.
Endorsement by tastemaker
If an influential reporter or editor is a fan of your product and company, there are countless ways that relationship can be levered – either purposely or inadvertently – to champion you within the marketplace. For instance, if a key reporter is on a panel at a conference and brings up your product or company as an example, or if they agree to have their positive review excerpted for use in your marketing materials, this can help draw in prospects and raise the stock of your organisation both literally and figuratively.
Technology analyst firms play an important champion role in the commercialization ecosystem, no matter what stage the company is at.
For startups: technology validation, market roadmapping, bursting of bubbles
While the degree to which analysts will speak freely with non-clients about these issues varies widely based on the analysts and the firms they work for, some are quite happy to have an introductory briefing with a startup to provide them some preliminary feedback on their product, what they think is their position in the market, who they see as their competition, where they need to go from here, or just how deluded the entrepreneur is in thinking there is a market need for their widget. Of course fulsome (and often times costly) research services are widely available but for the price of an hour of one’s time an analyst that covers your field will likely provide you some much needed perspective and encouragement if you’re on the right foot with a product that solves a well understood market pain.
Being covered in published research
If an analyst likes what they’ve heard from an introductory briefing, they’ll keep the company in mind for future research and may reach out for perspective on upcoming reports, surveys or other research that gets the company’s voice heard and their vote counted. More than that, research is widely circulated and read by your prospects.
For established companies or those with high-cost products: third-party validation in reports can mean millions in sales
The role that published reports play in the decision making process is largely influenced by the cost of the product – nobody in their right mind would spend a few thousand dollars on a report to influence their purchasing decision on a system that costs just a few thousand dollars. Where analyst reports are most valuable is where the technology has a very high cost – nobody can afford to buy the wrong multimillion dollar system so a published report from the experts who know what’s available and then spells out the good and the bad is well worth it.
Endorsement from a technology analyst
As above with the media endorsement, an analyst speaking up in the marketplace is an invaluable way that they can act as your champion. An added bonus with this group is that analysts can act as your champion with the media. Third party validation is the key here and if rather than publishing your CEO trumpeting his own horn at how great his product is, you can have a tastemaker analyst take a media call and sing your praises, that’s worth a lot more currency with your prospects.
This post just scratches the surface of the roles of media and analysts in championing technology, but it proves that these two groups can be important and influential champions for you with your market. Lever them through effective media and analyst relations and you’ve got two more categories of champions on your team.
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