Lead Users and Lead Customer Advisory Boards are often critical components of product innovation engines. Capturing valuable insight from these resources allow product marketing organizations to identify new product opportunities that are not too far in front of the general market which maximizes market acceptance and early product adoption. Insight from these customers is critical for maximizing the chances of new product success by ensuring products address key pain points that are emerging in the category. Also, the fact that these customers are pushing the envelope with your product or service provides great feedback regarding the utility, applications and overall value of your offering.

Maximize the Value of Lead Users in Your Content Marketing
You shouldn’t let the value of your lead users and lead customer advisory board stop with just the product innovation cycle. Lead users are often well respected and perceived as thought leaders in their respective industries and are a source of content gold. Tapping into lead users’ incredible grasp of the category and their highly granular visibility and understanding of the emerging issues is perfect for infusing highly relevant and rich content into your content marketing mix. Lead user generated content (LGC) usually outperforms other content types because of the high relevance and engagement scores.
Lead users are often incredible authorities and are happy to expound on their areas of expertise and interest. Therefore, you should be prepared with several open-ended interview questions to ensure you capture this content gold. Some great topics to cover include:
• New Applications and Techniques
• Category Innovations
• Emerging Issues
• Regulatory Impact/Issues
• Breakthroughs
• Other Industry Thought Leaders (network)

In addition to being a source of product and content gold, lead users often have an extended network of authorities that are also well versed in critical issues impacting your category and industry. You can maximize the value of each lead user engagement by capturing a list of additional subject matter experts that will represent future networking targets.
LGC often has a long shelf-life that delivers value over several quarters. In order to maximize the ROI of LGC, it is critical to incorporate this content into high engagement tactics. Webinars, in particular, are a great way to maximize the engagement value of LGC. Immersing prospects in a branded experience for an hour, influencing them with LGC and qualifying them with polling questions is one of the fastest methods of filling your pipeline with highly qualified leads that close at a high rate.

Respectful and Efficient Lead User Engagement
If you’re a content marketer you’ll want to make sure you’re in lockstep with your product marketing organization when engaging lead users. Lead users’ time is highly valuable and you want to be efficient and not over-tax lead users with action items that results in them opting-out of the program. Lead user initiatives, historically, have been the domain of the product marketing organization. Although most content marketers are engaged with their product marketing counterparts, since content marketing is a relatively new marketing discipline, organizational silos frequently exist that prevent extracting the maximum value from lead user engagements. Product management might not intuitively engage their content marketing counterparts to participate in lead user sessions. Therefore, CMOs need to drive tight integration between departments in order to unlock the full value of lead users.
Jeff Fugitt is the founder and CEO of AuthorityForce. AuthorityForce is a content marketplace and software-as-a-service (SaaS) that matches subject matter experts (Authorities) with Brands and equips them with content collaboration, calendar, conditioning, amplification and assessment tools to create and execute powerful and relevant stories. To get a free content marketing calendar template – click here.

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