The geospatial industry is exploding. New companies are being formed across the world focused on leveraging new location-based data and analytical techniques (most notably artificial intelligence and machine learning) to solve business problems. The Geospatial 2.0 world (as we have defined this new phenomena) is dominated by small, hungry, tech savvy companies looking to grow rapidly.
We’ve worked with many companies in this space. Through that work we have found that business success is driven by two key elements:
The right conversations with the right customers.
Our goal is to help companies achieve this goal. To that end we have built a process based around 5 core questions.
1. What problem are we solving?
If nobody wants to talk to you about your solution .. you have no solution.
This question focuses on your value proposition. That is customer-centric and a big topic. But at its heart is a critical question: have you built a solution, product or service that has value to potential customers, something they will want to talk to you about?
There are 2 core elements here:
a) Problem-solution fit AND problem-market fit – Have you found a customer problem you can help solve, and have you validated the value of that problem with potential customers?
b) Business-model fit – Will this solution, product or service create value for your business?
If you have found a problem, validated it has value to customers, also validated that this customer value translates into value for your business. Then you have a solid foundation. Without this solid foundation, any next steps are doomed to failure.
Use Case: Value proposition is usually attached to the evolution of a successful solution or service. But let me tell a slightly different story. Long ago I remember sitting in on a sales call. The salesman was visiting the offices of the CEO of a large transportation focused company. After exchanging initial pleasantries he began telling the CEO about a mapping toolkit his company had built. The CEO’s eyes quickly glazed over. The meeting was short. The salesman’s exit a welcome relief. The potential customer had no interest in the conversation. The salesman asked why? I explained “Value is critical. This is at the heart of the value proposition. If a customer cannot see value in your solution, to solve a specific problem or challenge they are experiencing, he or she will have no interest in your conversation.”
How WhyofThere Help: Your value proposition is the foundation of the 5 elements we discuss here. We want to understand first if you have this foundational element in place, and if it is complete. Most often that means one of two initial elements to our engagement:
- Assessment – If you have built out your value proposition we will review. Any gaps we look to fill in.
- Construct – If you have not spent time focused on your value proposition, we will help build out the pieces
This is an important step. Time here is well spent. In our early conversations we will provide feedback on the level-of-effort needed for us to help you complete this foundational phase.
2. Who should we be talking to?
If you are talking to the wrong people, in the wrong vertical .. you will be wasting time and money.
Wrapped up in any value proposition is the who question. Often defined as your target market and target customer (persona). Put simply who should we be targeting for conversations, and in which vertical do they reside?
In the race to market, companies most often focus on solution ideas and technology. Too often the “Who should we be talking to?” question is left until the end. That is a huge mistake.
Though this ‘where and who’ step is strictly part of the first stage above, we separate this out since so often we find this understanding to be missing. Laser focus is the key to business success. Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm discusses at length your target market or niche: Narrow, focused and one which you can dominate. Once you have that niche defined, who should you be talking to? That is those with the problem you are looking to solve, those who control the purse strings etc. The need for an in-depth understanding of your customer cannot be over-stated.
Use Case: We worked with a geospatial company who had built a Geospatial 2.0 dashboard. That is it could consume a wide range of static and dynamic datasets, and was integrated with artificial intelligence. It was a well engineered solution. We asked the company “Which markets are you targeting?” They responded “Any who show interest”. Next we asked: “Who are you talking to in the organizations you contact, and how do they think about the problem you are looking to solve?”. Decision-makers was their reply.
It was clear to us, the company had no target, no initial niche they felt they could dominate. They fished around for people to talk to, without a specific person targeted. As a result they had made no sales. That was why they turned to us.
How WhyofThere Help: We have two areas of focus in this phase, as we work with customers:
- Target Market – Do you have a winnable niche on which you are focused? If you do we will review with you. If you don’t we will help you narrow that focus.
- Persona – Have you constructed the key players in your chosen niche? Do you understand their perspective in relation to the problem you are looking to solve? If you have we will review, if not we will help define. That most often means we will conduct discovery calls with individuals in organizations which operate in your target market.
3. What core themes should drive our conversations?
When you engage with potential customers (whether that be through shared content or direct conversations) what do you want to convey? What is it that you want to stick in the minds of your potential customers?
A messaging strategy provides a guide. That is the core themes all messaging should be centred around.
Use Case: Let me share a sports based analogy to help show the importance of a messaging strategy. Football (soccer) is broken up into two 45 minute halves. The break between halves is called halftime. It provides a chance to rest, and assess the first half. Managers provide input on what went right and what went wrong. Information overload, and irrelevant chatter, are big dangers in this short period of review. Top managers know less is best. They focus on 2 or 3 core points: things they want the players to remember in the second half. A messaging strategy is more strategic than this type of halftime team-talk, but the goal is the same: Narrow, focused, simple, memorable messaging.
How WhyofThere Help: If you don’t have a messaging strategy, we will build it.
4. What problem-to-solution stories are at the centre of our conversations?
So where are we?
We have all the pieces in place in prepararation for our conversations:
- We know there is interest in a potential customer conversation (since we have both validated it solves a problem and has value to potential customers)
- We know who we are talking to
- We know what should be at the centre of our conversations.
Next we need to consider our potential customer communications; that means we need to focus on content.
Let’s briefly provide a content overview. Being blunt: Old style messaging is dead. Long boring, product filled articles are, quite rightly, ignored. Sales calls which focus on the ‘amazing features of our product’ leave prospects cold. Today short, attention grabbing, customer-focused content is a requirement. That means information sharing, and guided journeys or problem-to-solution stories.
In the world of geospatial, great content is rare!
Use Case: Company XYZ wanted to better engage with their potential customers. They wanted to tell their story through articles, blogs and direct contact with customers. But they had long struggled to create effective messaging. They had marketing folks who were good writers, but struggled since they did not understand the fundamentals of geospatial and geospatial data. They had technical folks who provided written deep dives into the technology: content most customers did not understand (nor care to understand). Finally, they had sales folks, who knew the mechanics of sales, but had no sales problem-to-solution stories to tell. As a result the limited content they produced was wordy, often too technical, and product capabilities focused not centred on customers. Too often advertising rather than informing. They needed help.
How WhyofThere Help: We will create the focused content you need. That is both targeted at in-bound and out-bound respectively.
5. Are we connecting with customers, and generating interest leading to sales?
Planning is great. But if that expensive, carefully constructed strategy document sits on your shelf unopened you have failed!
Though thorough planning is essential, on its own it is useless. Planning sets the stage for, and guides, execution. This is where you go out into the market and have those all important customer conversations. The execution phase involves sharing your message, your story, and measuring its impact. Yes measure: as you learn you adjust. Inbound content is shared by marketing in blog posts, articles, videos, through webinars and podcasts. Outbound content is centred on sales: that is both in prospecting and direct customer conversations.
It is important that marketing and sales are reading from the same script.
Use Case: Geospatial 2.0 company ABC were an innovative, fast moving organization. Whenever possible they ran rather than walked. They had a new product they were looking to launch. Their focus was on quick returns. Though they recognised the importance of careful planning, they were sure about their new product, so with minimal planning they jumped into the execution phase. New sales people were hired, a small marketing team assembled. The teams hit the ground running. Marketing aggressively created and shared content, while sales tirelessly chased prospects. After 6 months no new sales had been generated. Members of the sales team were fired, replaced by ‘newer and better’. The chase for sales went on. After 1 year, a few proof-of-concept had been agreed. The fire and hire sequence continued, until the company asked the question: “What are we doing wrong?” With our help, they realised their lack of thorough planning, and careful measurement, were why they were failing in the execution phase.
How WhyofThere Help: We work with existing sales and marketing teams in the execution phase. If you are looking to build your plan of attack, or wondering how you can do better. We can help.
Hopefully this overview provides some necessary perspective and insight on your business, and how to assemble your plan of attack to help you grow. This is our focus at WhyofThere. Our goal is to help you build a water-tight plan. And to execute against this plan to expand your sales and grow your business.
Interested to learn more?