How do I get face-to-face meetings with decision-makers in my target market?

QUESTION:

My startup has a developed a digital solution that monetizes the social media content of branded individuals (pro athletes, entertainers, etc). We’ve targeted the sports market and have a proof of concept, partners in the sports space with access to top athletes and a team and a board of directors.

We’re currently pitching to angels to get the funding for a working prototype, but I’m also trying to get a client in the sports space. I want to pitch to advertisers. Especially those who spend money in the virtual world and social networking sports arenas. But i don’t know who to go to, marketers like Weiden+Kennedy or sports companies directly, like NIKE.

And getting a face-to-face meeting with the decision-makers is a major challenge, given that I don’t know the sports marketing industry enough to know who (title) would be the decision-maker and how to get an opportunity to make a pitch without jeopardizing my digital solution by sharing the idea 50 times before I can get an audience with the right person.  Any advice?

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

The dilemma you face is the classic problem of any startup with a great idea and technology, but no contacts in the target business market.

What you need to do is bring someone with all those contacts onto your team. Instead of trying to make the contacts yourself, which could take years and is extremely difficult, you need to identify someone who already has those contacts and make them a core part of your management team.

Finding this person is not always easy, but it’s well worth your time. It will open up doors and allow you to quickly find out if your product will sell.

Also, while searching for this person, you’ll probably make numerous contacts in the market you’re targeting, which can also turn into business leads.

I wouldn’t worry so much about someone stealing your idea. Most people are too busy. Instead, whenever you pitch your idea to someone, see what you can learn from them. If they’re in the market you’re targeting, they can tell you a lot about the viability of your product.

Getting started:

  • Make a short list of people you think would be good to fill this business development role
  • Contact them directly, if possible
  • Get a recruiter who specializes in this area to help you
  • Establish a Board of Advisors who can help you locate this person

Good luck!

Comments & Advice:
  1. Raj Gavurla Raj Gavurla says:

    Two ideas:

    1. Get in front of sports groups where you may not have a one on one with a decision maker, however, there are decision makers in the audience for possible one on one if interesting.

    2. Look into the National Sports Marketing Network (NSMN), http://www.sportsmarketingnetwork.com/

    Contact me to talk further, if you want.

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