One of the key areas for growth is unearthing new opportunities within your existing client base. It’s like digging for gold, except that it’s not just one nugget but many. Together, these nuggets are the all-important pieces of data that become the intelligence about your client. They present to you the bigger picture about each of your clients, dictating the ways in which you can more effectively engage with them, leading to better customer relationship management, more business development activity and business opportunities for more sales. An important part of that better client engagement is the critical opportunity for organisations to project their thought leadership and key brand propositions, to further unveil business opportunities within the client base, developing the chances of revenue generation.

So in digging for gold, the end game is to devise strategies that maximise returns. Once you’ve found the gold nuggets, it means putting into place programmes across multiple channels and touchpoints to seize the opportunities and then measure the real impact of leadership and brand campaigns through new technology and advanced business intelligence tools. These programmes exploit knowledge about which clients are engaging with what type of content, and they monitor the level of engagement.

Customer intelligence

With customer intelligence, new technology and advanced business intelligence tools, it is now possible to have a real grasp on which of your clients are engaging with what type of content, and then monitor the level of this engagement. Indeed, in today’s always-on digital world, customer intelligence strategies and tools are a business imperative. It’s about getting to grips with, and exploiting, the myriad channels, touchpoints and data sources available in order to take account of the broader perspective. These can include engagement via face-to-face meetings, web, mobile, social media, automated marketing systems or many others.

Such is the challenge of the future for marketers and business development professionals: how to bring this all together into a coherent picture, and then act on it in the best way to enhance engagement with clients, build relationships and develop new opportunities. This doesn’t just involve using Business Intelligence to look at disparate data sources such as the systems for Marketing, CRM, and Finance, for example. It’s about understanding and interpreting that data, not merely being surrounded by it. And it’s about using the channels and touchpoints to maximum potential, and exploiting what Trovus calls ‘Swimlane analysis,’ which is the integration of multiple data sets to answer specific questions – such as ‘why is my best salesperson performing 2.5 higher than my worst person?’ The task then is to model the patterns and behaviours to bring about the desired change.

Shaping up for the digital world

There are clearly the base level technical skills needed – but the real art and science is being able to assimilate data and know what it means. What is the intelligence telling you? Then your organisation can act in the right way, segmenting who to target, devising programmes to best engage clients and nurture them over time, understanding behaviours, tackling the internal culture and finally implementing effective measurement and reporting.

In the multi-skilled marketing and business development professions, even organisations with digital teams still lack all the skills and experience needed to cover off all the new and quickly emerging approaches and disciplines. There are so many methods and tools available that breaking down the barriers and keeping on top of all the new developments is a huge task for most organisations – hence the need for customer intelligence consultancies like Trovus.

Example: a world leader

Let me cite a specific example. One of our clients, the world’s largest IT and Consulting Services company, is a global leader in business and technology. A well-established global player, the company is a major innovator in the research and development that will shape the future of society. For them, it is clear that bigger, faster, cheaper just isn’t enough anymore – no matter who you are, and they knew only too well that a key area for their continued growth lay in discovering new opportunities within their existing client base.

They also acknowledged that despite their brand being known and respected all around the world, some of their niche solutions are less known in their respective markets. These niche client-specific solutions were designed to meet the needs of an extremely demanding target audience, comprising application developers, who work across a vast number of industries, ranging from finance to healthcare, education to retail. There was clearly the need to emphasize the company’s positioning in the market; to be seen as the thought leader in the field and to develop relationships whereby they would be considered to be a business confidante and trusted advisor.

To achieve this, they needed answers to the following key questions:

  • How they could change their customers’ perceptions of what the company is capable of?
  • How they could gain recognition as a trusted advisor and thought leader in the field?
  • How they could nurture clients through the concept of thought leadership?

‘Round table magic’

Trovus devised a series of round table discussions involving key decision makers, by inviting 10-15 CEOs and CMOs from their target organisations. The carefully selected shortlist of organisations was based not just on revenue potential, but also on the nature of their business. The majority of the organizations had either very limited exposure to our client’s offerings or had the wrong perception of the scope of solutions that they were able to deliver.

In parallel with the high-level round table discussions, a dozen phone interviews were completed to create a fuller picture of the needs of potential customers and to validate some of the observations made during the round tables. The objectives were to better understand their customer’s challenges, what trends they are interested in and, most importantly, how to help them overcome these challenges.

The magic of round tables speaks for itself. Of the targeted 15 accounts, 9 readily accepted the invitation to attend and a further 4 were conducted through separate meetings. There was 100% turnout at each event and a number of important issues emerged. They included the scalability of the services and they also highlighted the importance of personal relationships. This invaluable information enabled our client to shape their thinking around their marketing strategy and the exact propositions and messages that they need to take to the market, to enhance ongoing client engagement and relationship building. And let’s remember, the end game: the bottom line. Even though it wasn’t the primary goal of the exercise, as a direct result of this project, Trovus helped uncover 5 brand new and immediate business opportunities.

We have a number of other similar examples with clients. But let’s briefly take one of our own. Trovus’s primary channel to market is our rolling seminar programme. We’ve held a number of events and gathered significant experience. Thanks to the intelligence we gain we confidently expect to have 50 people signed up within a week for these events. Our record is 27 people within 12 hours, and our average attendance rate is 90%, with a follow-up engagement rate at 80%. The point is we analyse the intelligence we have and ensure attendance by choosing topics that genuinely resonate with our targeted audience.

Measure, maximise

So, having run thought leadership programmes to get better engagement, how do know if they’re effective? How can you best analyse them, to maximise ongoing engagement and relationship building? In the past, it was close to impossible to measure the real impact of any thought leadership material. However, new technology and advanced business intelligence tools make it possible to gauge which clients are engaging with what type of content, and monitor the level of this engagement. For everybody who cares about client engagement and revenue generation, knowing which segments of their target audience is engaging with what content, allows you to achieve three things:

  • Attribute the real value that marketing generates to the ‘sales’ process
  • Segment their target audience and reach out to key targets with the right messages at the right time
  • Build stronger relationships through enhanced client insights

We’re seeing much more sophisticated measurement, reporting and analysis coming through, and the plethora of tools will continue to increase.  But again, the challenge is to wade through the myriad tools and techniques, and this demands investment in resources. Training and development of digital staff will be major – in the area of analysis and understanding data – and organisations are now engaging people to take on the digital marketing task, working alongside intelligence consultants; or they’re outsourcing totally.

So my big message is that organisations must shape up for tomorrow’s digital world, maximising engagement and measurement right across the myriad channels and touchpoints that exist in our new constantly connected society.

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Caspar Craven

Caspar Craven


Caspar Craven is Co-Founder and Director of Trovus.