Today I want to discuss the importance of establishing a beachhead - a successful safe place to expand into a market.
This is important for an early solution business and for any new market/customer segment you go after. You must focus early offers on the market exclusively - it is so easy to ignore the needs of the executives in your market - we call this getting above the safety line - and focus on the products or abilities you have now. We've seen firms struggle in the first year of their Customer Intimacy Journey because they did not create anything meaningful for the market.
The Customer Intimacy Engine™ business model can take into account that your customer facing people are not used to selling to the executives, it can take into account your brand does not give you legitimacy in the executive-suite solving real problems, but it cannot make up for poorly planned offers - those with no real value to the executive.
The beachhead begins the process of establishing your legitimacy and proves to your organization that you can do it. The early focus should be on getting reference-able accounts that believe in what you offer. By the way you must be able to implement the new idea also - please see the blog entry on staffing and talent.
How do you select the first offers for a new market ?
You need to do a thorough review of what leading thinking for the market is focused upon. This would include:
1. Reviewing current thinking by consulting firms - this can be accomplished by reviewing their info in the market place and meeting with representatives from large and specialty firms.
2. Meeting with executives in the industry that are solving key new issues - these discussions must be done differently than market research and require market experts in the room on your behalf to interpret the comments.
3. Diagram the business - this should include org charts, supply chains, major processes, etc.
Once this exercise is complete and a diagram of potential opportunities is created, I suggest you meet with people who represent best practices for these areas within the market segment - these will usually be lower level people and or people who have left the industry and are working on these problems as adjuncts to the industry. Also, see what the associations are doing on these issues.
Now you should have a reasonable list of opportunities and enough information to begin the offer evaluation process.
The challenge with establishing a beachhead is that companies usually don't have the patience for spending time doing this and they want meaningful revenue now - this is usually because they look at Customer Intimacy Engine™ as "solution selling" - a go to market issue only. I suggest that you talk about this phase of the journey as R&D spend. A True Solutions™ portfolio is not that different from bringing a new product to market, similar phases are involved and similar investment is required, although the way in which the evaluation and creation activities are accomplished differ.
So how do you go about leveraging the beachhead? Once several accounts have purchased the new offer(s), you can trumpet the release of the offer, increase the staff involved and move towards leveraging the beachhead. This will include creating those offers that more directly pull through your products or outsourcing. This begins with building a strategy (portfolio document) of where you plan to take the market, which includes identifying how each offer area impact the safety line and/or builds critical mass, and/or drives solution revenue/profits, and/or pulls through products. This document in turn becomes the vision that drives the market activities you undertake for the business. It also provides a communication document for educating and discussing the business with your company on broader basis.
In summary, focus first on establishing a firm beachhead and then on the broader business offerings that expand your influence.