Develop your idea
The corporate sponsorship market is valued at around £40bn. Sponsorship revenue is a key differentiator for successful sports organisations i.e. sports teams, leagues, tournaments etc.
However, the process of identifying the right target (the company most likely to sponsor) has until now been cumbersome and labour intensive. A major sports club might have 30 people working in their commercial/business development team, screening for potential new partners. Thomson Reuters wanted to create a tool that uses content from across its teams to serve a very specific purpose; to help any organisation to identify sponsorship candidates.
The first priority was to visit a number of major sporting rights holders such as Premier League and leading F1 teams. In-depth conversations with them laid the foundations to all the product requirements. A first working proof of concept was completed within months. The technology used and the look and feel is now part of an offering to Financial & Risk customers across the globe.
Here’s are our top tips for developing an idea with customers.
1. Listen to the Customer
“As a sports fanatic and number cruncher, the opportunity to spend a day with the commercial team of one of the biggest soccer teams in the world and listen about their existing business development process work-flows, organization structure, pain-points and wish-lists was a fantastic learning experience but invaluable for the next 9 months of the project,” says Thomson Reuters’ Barry Dooney. “Further face-to-face and telephone meetings with sports teams and federations enabled us to validate our value proposition, or what makes your product or service attractive to customers, define user-stories and get a commitment for two corporates to meet with us every three weeks to review our wire-frames (mock ups of web pages). Indeed, we were probably over-prepared for that initial customer meeting and were doing too much talking so it took one of us to recognize this and tactfully say: "We've done a lot of the talking, we want to listen to you"....what followed over the next few hours were golden nuggets of insight from the customer. It's a cliché but LISTEN!”
2. User stories keep the team honest during product development
User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability e.g. "As a business development analyst, I want to screen for public companies with annual revenue >$500m and net profit >$100m so that I have a short-list of potential clients that are financially healthy". We defined and inputted hundreds of user stories like this which were prioritized and bundled by similarity so we could spot patterns. Users’ stories help prevent ‘feature-creep’ (offering too many features) and ensure that what we develop focuses on the customer need.
A Thomson Reuters team wanted to test its mock website on potential customers, so within two weeks of the project starting, designed a robust prototype and took a booth at a Chamber of Commerce conference where they demonstrated the product in return for a £7 Starbucks card for watching a 10 minute demo. The response to the product demo was positive and gave the team even more ideas that we incorporated as part of their design.