Thursday, May 28, 2009

Intel for Bus Development

Studies show that companies that do the best coming out of recession over the past 20+years are ones that continue to invest in innovation, marketing, and mergers/acquisition ( So many firms I come across big and small are struggling with declining or sluggish sales to existing customers and finding it hard to find new ones especially right now.

In my experience there is almost nothing material you can't find out about a "customer". In the era of cyberspace and social media online, this is even more true. Whether your footprint is bigger or smaller, local or (inter)national, it's still true. Whether you are a not-for-profit, a company, and public institution, your product or service or need has a supplier and a customer.

Non-profit examples:

1) You are a faith-based not for profit which needs to raise funds for a cause. A simple review of stats from organizations that publish data on philanthropic donations (e.g. IUPUI) reveals that most of the people you need to reach out to are people of faith of very average incomes who regular attend church services. There are 450k churches in America. Guess where your customer is. US census data provides more specificity by zip code about characteristics of each area. Many fundraisers, especially on the political side, have built successful models for how to reach out. President Obama's Triple O campaign? What links these churches together (ministerial associations, community causes, personal networks). That's your way forward. And, find out what others like you are doing...they are more than willing to share and teach. Especially talk to bigger organizations that have developed the experience, models, processes to consistently succeed. Look for analogs and case studies in philanthropic fundraising pubs.

2) You are a local life science incubator serving perhaps a 50 mile radius around your city. You want to provide technical, financial, commercilizaton advice, community and services to advance very early stage new technology which improves life and creates employment. You want to connect with scientists, physicians, biomedical engineers, etc. locally. Well, where do they reside, invent and go for help - patent attorney's, CPAs, librarians, academic colleagues/mentors, technology transfer offices, local high networth individuals, VC's, local angel investor groups, on line communities and subject-specific blogs, scientific meetings, innovation competitions, bus development meetings (e.g. BIO), your "competitors" in the region, regional subject matter experts, bus development personnel at big firms, suppliers of related specialized testing & lab equipment, Chambers of Commerce, state government programs, Small Business Administration, etc, etc. As you network to build relationships and to engage these organizations you will quickly develop a mental Pareto chart for where the most fertile prospects usually are, make them aware of your organization and get commitments to have inventors referred on. Then get disciplined and systematic about your approach prioritizing highest probablity targets.

Stan Dyck

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