Business insight & precision data - the foundations for any enterprise with local or global aspirations!

Published 28th of June 2017

World-beating British invention

I was holed up in the local pub on Sunday as the weather was both cold and wet – the ideal conditions for seeking out a log fire and a pint - even in the summer!

Got chatting to a neighbour who was explaining how he and some friends had invented an incredible widget that detects the position of leaks in underground water pipes without having to dig up the road to find them. And apparently with billions of litres of water lost each year and £millions spent on laboriously locating and fixing the pipes, this invention could be a world-changer.

My interest was piqued, so I quickly slipped on my Alert BI hat (it's always nearby!) and wanted to know more.

Three key questions

The key questions in my mind were 1) who could manufacture the widget? 2) What was their thinking about marketing research / finding influencers / partners etc? 3) Where would the money to get started come from?

It turned out that not a lot of thought had been given to these issues by the inventors, despite having invested a large amount of money upfront to develop the widget.

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A long list of great inventions

We've always had a reputation in the UK for invention and innovation. A long list of firsts include: the telephone, light bulb, steam turbine, vacuum cleaner, syringe, jet engine, chocolate bars and cement! We were world leaders in the 19th century but since then have largely failed to turn inventions into global commercial success stories.

Graphene - the one atom-thick material that is 200 times stronger than steel and conducts electricity better than any material known to man – is a case in point. It won't be bringing the economic benefit to the UK that it could, and should, but more about that another time!

Getting back to the water leaks widget, we had a lengthy, animated discussion over a few more beers about financing, manufacturing and marketing. I can really recommend brainstorming in the pub on a wet day!

There's not enough space here to recount in full so I'll just pick out a few points about the marketing and research areas.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of potential buyers out there

I've always had the view that whatever the strength of the offering, you have to put it in front of dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of potential buyers, influencers or partners to have any chance of a viable pick-up. Consumer product producers achieve this with mass advertising, social media campaigns etc, but this is not so pronounced in the business-to-business area.

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But it's not just a numbers game. I get a bee in my bonnet whenever I hear about companies feeling good because they are marketing directly to 10,000 Chief Executives or Directors or the heads of departments. Don't get me wrong, these people are important, but in this modern world with over 35,000 distinct job titles, it’s vital to also target individuals who are likely to have specific responsibilities that match your requirements. So, for the case in hand, that would be people involved in water leakage, wastewater, procurement and innovation. Get some of them on board and you can build momentum quickly.

Procurement, leakage, quality, innovation, pipeline engineers

We logged onto the Alert BI online service and a few searches quickly pinpointed some of the people who my friend could have on his target list:

‎Head of Procurement at Yorkshire Water
Leakage Manager at Hydrosave
Director - Water Innovations, United Utilities
Network Leakage Specialist at Water Leak Location Services
Development Engineer at Bristol Water plc
Intensive Leakage Investigation - Anglian Water plc
Network Optimisation Manager at Severn Trent Water
Head of Environmental Services
Construction Manager (Caledonia Water Alliance)
Leader Pipelines Group at MWH Global
Head of Wastewater Capital Procurement at Northern Ireland Water
General Manager - Procurement & Supply Chain - ‎Scottish Water
Clean Water Engineer at MOUCHEL plc.
Procurement Manager at South Staffs Water
Lead Designer, Pipelines, Black & Veatch at Bristol Water
Pipeline Project Engineer at South East Water UK
Looked like the list could be 500 strong before we even started to look at Europe, the Far East, Africa or North America.

A launch campaign to 1000 key contacts

We talked about how, somewhere down the line with all the other bits in place, an informational/marketing campaign could be mounted to perhaps 1,000 key people like those above and - with email tracking capabilities enabling the pinpointing of who is opening, clicking through and circulating the communication - find perhaps 20 people worldwide who are interested in the product.We agreed to reconvene another day (in the pub, naturally) to take this matter forward!

Not sure this will lead to the global business that they’re dreaming about, but one thing is for sure - business insight has to be a key part of the jigsaw.

I will keep you posted!

Incidentally, one of our clients has the most voracious, insatiable appetite for high quality, fresh business data and insights – Google, the largest company in the world, with a value of £675 billion ( £850 billion). Guess that’s proof that business insight can give a company a small step up the ladder!

What's to be gained from reading this blog?

This water widget story might seem a million miles away from your world, but whatever products or services you provide, how confident are you that you know all the job titles of the people out there who could make or influence decisions that directly impact on your level of success?

If you want to check this out, make sure you find a B2B company data and business insights supplier that doesn't just list the company directors and a smattering of operational contacts; but has 100 major job groups and can pinpoint the people behind over 35,000 specific job titles!

Free job titles list – decision-makers and influencers

Alternatively, send me an email describing what you do business-wise and, just as we did in the example above, we will research and send you a list, with our compliments, of the type of contacts we believe are precisely relevant.

Ray.murphy@alertresearch.co.uk