This is a continuation of the second article in the series, which can be found here.
Once you understand what information will raise the target audiences’ awareness and understanding of your innovation, you’ll need to determine the best methods for disseminating that information. Since knowledge of your innovation is the first step to driving adoption, you want to reach as many in your target audiences as possible. The challenge is doing this effectively and cost-efficiently.
You must first determine which communications means will best reach each of your target audiences. The broadest reach may be through social media, such as LinkedIn. In some cases, placing advertising or a bylined article in a trade publication will better reach niche audiences. Smaller audiences of senior executives are often best reached by direct mail.
While these and many other choices are available, you’ll want to figure out which will give you the greatest return for your effort. The objective is to raise the target audiences’ awareness to the point that they are interested and want to learn more. In marketing terms, this is the beginning of customer acquisition.
The second step is to structure the information for each audience and communications method. To be clearly understood, the explanation of an innovation must be in the language and style familiar to each audience and related to their circumstances. Only when all parties impacted by an industrial innovation have a common understanding will adoption gain a foothold.
For example, when explaining a new metal alloy to a design engineer, you may use scientific language to discuss material properties and advantageous strength-to-weight ratios. Informing a machinist of the same alloy might use non-scientific language to convey how this new product helps reduce tooling wear and tear. Having both parties, and potentially others, in agreement on the value of your innovation dramatically increases the likelihood of adoption.
The communications method will dictate the broader style. A bylined article is great for expository writing that can clearly convey detailed information about the innovation. Trade shows and speaking engagements are terrific venues when seeing or experiencing the innovation improves comprehension.
Other methods, like social media and direct mail pieces, typically force brevity and are useful hooks that link to web sites, white papers and so on where there is more detailed information. In such cases, you can only tease the audience with cursory information about the innovation while leveraging emotional triggers to drive action. Common triggers leveraged by many direct marketers include anger, fear, greed, guilt, exclusivity and flattery. An example may be instilling fear in the audience members that their competitors are gaining an advantage by using your innovation.
The action that you’re aiming for in all cases is to get the target audiences to learn enough about your innovation that they want to learn more. At that point, they become self-qualifying, meaning they have already taken the first step toward adoption by beginning to relate how your innovation can help them professionally or personally.
Since adoption requires action, you need to measure progress at each step along the way. This will help you not only gauge your success and refine your efforts, it also will serve as the foundation to calculate the “cost of customer acquisition.” (This is the cost associated with convincing the target audience to adopt or buy your innovation.)
Fortunately, the process of the target audiences consuming and acting on information can be measured very easily. Marketing professionals already use sophisticated tools to measure which people receive, read and act on materials. For instance, personalized URLs (web sites) can be created on the fly, providing a highly tailored experience to increase the likelihood of action. These personalized URLs provide rich data about each audience member and his or her actions, or lack thereof.
An important factor is developing a campaign that identifies the different audiences and the paths that they can take to achieve full adoption. In this early stage of knowledge dissemination, the campaign would focus on making the initial contact and delivering a compelling explanation of the innovation that each target audience member can relate to. As the campaign progresses through the remaining four steps of adoption, it will require greater sophistication.
Getting this right is very important, since adoption is all about taking action. The better that you can measure the target audiences’ progress, the better you can accelerate the pace and breadth of adoption at the lowest cost.
Once the audiences know about your innovation and can relate it to their situation, the next step in adoption is to “persuade” them of its value. We’ll discuss that in the next article of this series.
Chris Peters is the CEO of The Lucrum Group, an Annapolis-based consultancy focused on enabling the advanced manufacturing enterprise. Chris has developed manufacturing supply chain hubs in more than 20 industries worldwide. Much of that success was based on the ability to drive and accelerate adoption. His work has been documented in several books and in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to BusinessWeek and IndustryWeek.