For Solution Providers
ChainLink Research offers three main types of services to solution providers:
- Thought Leadership Content Development
- Market Discovery Research and Advisory Projects
- ‘Other’ Custom Research and Advisory Services
Thought Leadership Content Development
Many of our clients offer solutions providing new and differentiated approaches to solving critical problems and creating new dimensions of value. These innovative solutions often require some explanation, market education, and awareness. ChainLink has developed hundreds of clear and effective white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, webinars, and podcasts, to help educate prospects and enable the market to relate to and understand the new approach. These are educational pieces, providing independent third-party credibility, that articulate specific key challenges and strategic goals of the target audience and then ‘connect the dots’ to show how the new approach solves those problem in a compelling and dramatically more effective way.
Market Discovery Research and Advisory Projects
ChainLink has done dozens of market discovery projects for solutions providers who are looking to expand into new markets, industries, channels, and/or use cases. Making choices about which new market(s) to enter entails complex multi-dimensional decision-making. Once a decision is made, it typically requires multi-year, million+ dollar investments in development, marketing, and sales resources to pursue that new market. Some markets may appear attractive upon superficial analysis but have an overlooked fatal flaw. Wrong choices can be very costly in time, money, and missed market opportunities. It is wise to make a smaller upfront investment in due diligence to research, prioritize, and validate the choice. This is the purpose of a market discovery project. We conduct a bespoke research project, which may include supply chain schematics and market triangulation, as described below.
Supply Chain Schematics
Over the years, ChainLink has developed several ‘supply chain schematics’ outlining the structure and characteristics of a specific industry. For example, we have seven schematics for the seven different sectors of the food industry (produce, dairy, meat & poultry, seafood, grains & beans, beverages, ‘other’). These visualize the structure and relationships of the end-to-end chain, highlight the characteristics, challenges, and objectives of the various players, the nature of the different businesses (capital intensity, margins, product lifecycles, fragmentation, sector size, etc.). Supply chain schematics can be a key tool in market discovery and strategic decision making.
Custom Research for Triangulating Market Size and Attractiveness
We conduct custom research as often required for market sizing, competitive analysis, and other purposes. For example, one client needed to know how many pharmaceutical packaging lines there were in the US. They had searched everywhere and couldn’t find anyone with the information. We used several data sets to triangulate on a number, with several different ways of validating and gaining confidence in the number. In another case, we calculated the number of mobile racks used to convey major transmissions, engines, and other major assemblies in the North American auto industry. This custom research can be as specific as needed and as the budget allows for.
Project Objectives and Scope
Based on your objectives and available budget, we craft a custom proposal, leveraging our existing research and methodologies. For a low-end budget, we may do a single workshop, with some preparation research to organize and supplement our existing research. On the high end, we do both survey and interview-based primary research and extensive (sometimes excruciating) secondary research, sometimes purchasing additional data sets for analysis. We have developed full blown financial models for launching new businesses, including both demand (market and business forecasts) and investment requirements, to calculate ROI and IRR. Research projects often also yield insights useful for messaging and positioning, and typically involve some level of competitive analysis.
Other Custom Research and Advisory Services
We have built many ROI models for use as sales tools. Our clients’ objectives, and where in the sales cycle they intend to use the tool, influence the design of the model. Self-service web-based tools are for use early in the sales cycle as awareness and qualified lead gen tools. Excel-based tools are for use by sales personnel later in the cycle to help in closing deals.
Messaging and Positioning
Some clients have unique functionality and value propositions but have struggled to find the right combination of message and positioning to translate their value into robust sales. Through a combination of competitive analysis, value analysis, and messaging workshops, we can help clients to improve their messaging. Sometimes these projects are combined with and integrated into a Market Discovery project.
Clients who are an early stage of evaluating potential acquisitions typically want to know ‘who is out there, that may be a candidate?’ We have helped develop, analyze, and narrow down candidate lists. As needed, we sometimes help with the inquiries and approaching candidates. At a later stage, we have engaged to help with non-financial, pre-offer analysis, and occasionally with post-offer due diligence.
For clients looking to be acquired, we have helped with pitch preparation, identifying investors, and in some cases making introductions.
Finding the optimal approach to pricing can be very difficult, as much art as science. Solution providers are notorious for the opacity and complexity of their pricing schemes. While never revealing confidential information, we have helped our clients to evaluate typical pricing schemes and price ranges within their sector. We have also built custom pricing exploration models to help them play ‘what if’, so they can consider the impact on revenue of different scenarios. We are cautious about setting expectations, as pricing is difficult to model and the information is difficult to obtain, even for independent analysts.
Services for Supply Chain Organizations
We have been highly effective in helping executive management rationalize their supply chain strategy and ensure alignment with the CEO/enterprise agenda and across their trading network.
Process & Technology Consulting
ChainLink’s team has many years of experience leading supply chain transformational projects. We help manage your supply chain transformation through the various stages of the project lifecycle.