What is Gatekeeper Strategy? (Explained With Examples)

08 November 2023

What is Gatekeeper Strategy? (Explained With Examples)

In the world of business strategy, there are various approaches that companies can employ to gain a competitive edge. One such strategy that has gained popularity in recent years is the Gatekeeper Strategy. In this article, we will delve deep into what exactly the Gatekeeper Strategy entails and provide you with real-life examples to help you understand its application in different contexts.

1°) What is Gatekeeper Strategy?

At its core, the Gatekeeper Strategy is all about identifying and targeting key individuals or entities that control access to valuable resources, information, or opportunities. These gatekeepers act as intermediaries and hold the power to either grant or deny access to others. By developing strong relationships and influencing these gatekeepers, companies can gain a significant advantage in their respective industries.

1.1 - Definition of Gatekeeper Strategy

The Gatekeeper Strategy involves a deliberate and strategic effort to identify and build relationships with gatekeepers who have the power to control access to important resources. These gatekeepers can be individuals such as industry influencers, decision-makers, or trusted advisors, as well as entities like regulatory bodies, trade associations, or key suppliers.

Organizations that successfully implement the Gatekeeper Strategy recognize the importance of nurturing relationships with these gatekeepers. They understand that by gaining favor with the right gatekeepers, they can access valuable resources, information, partnerships, and opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach.

For example, in the healthcare industry, pharmaceutical companies often employ the Gatekeeper Strategy to gain access to key opinion leaders (KOLs) who have significant influence over prescribing decisions. By building strong relationships with these KOLs, pharmaceutical companies can ensure that their products are recommended and prescribed by healthcare professionals, resulting in increased sales and market share.

1.2 - Advantages of Gatekeeper Strategy

The Gatekeeper Strategy offers several advantages to companies that adopt it. Firstly, it allows businesses to tap into resources that they may not have direct access to. By building strong relationships with gatekeepers, organizations can leverage their influence and connections to gain access to industry insights, market trends, and exclusive opportunities.

Secondly, the Gatekeeper Strategy enhances credibility and reputation. By aligning with respected gatekeepers, companies gain a level of legitimacy and trust in the eyes of stakeholders. This can have a positive impact on brand perception and attract potential customers, partners, and investors.

Furthermore, the Gatekeeper Strategy can provide a competitive advantage by creating barriers to entry for competitors. If a company has established strong relationships with important gatekeepers, it becomes much more difficult for new players to gain access to the same resources or opportunities.

For instance, in the technology industry, startups often employ the Gatekeeper Strategy to gain access to venture capitalists and angel investors who have the power to provide funding and mentorship. By building strong relationships with these gatekeepers, startups can secure the necessary financial resources and guidance to grow and succeed in a highly competitive market.

1.3 - Disadvantages of Gatekeeper Strategy

While the Gatekeeper Strategy can be highly effective, it is not without its drawbacks. One of the main challenges is the risk of over-reliance on gatekeepers. If a company becomes too dependent on a single gatekeeper or a small group of gatekeepers, they may find themselves vulnerable if those relationships sour or if the gatekeepers lose influence or change their priorities.

Additionally, the Gatekeeper Strategy requires significant investment in relationship-building efforts. Companies must allocate resources to establish and maintain strong connections with gatekeepers, which can be time-consuming and costly. Not all organizations may have the necessary resources or capacity to effectively implement this strategy.

Moreover, the Gatekeeper Strategy may face ethical considerations. In some cases, companies may attempt to influence gatekeepers through unethical means, such as bribery or manipulation. This can damage the reputation of both the company and the gatekeeper, leading to long-term negative consequences.

Overall, the Gatekeeper Strategy can be a powerful approach for companies seeking to gain a competitive edge by accessing valuable resources, information, and opportunities. However, it requires careful planning, resource allocation, and ethical considerations to ensure long-term success.

2°) Examples of Gatekeeper Strategy

Now that we have covered the basics of the Gatekeeper Strategy, let's explore some real-life examples to illustrate its application in different contexts.

2.1 - Example in a Startup Context

Imagine a tech startup aiming to disrupt the transportation industry with a new ride-sharing platform. To gain access to a large pool of potential customers and ensure regulatory compliance, the company identifies local government agencies as key gatekeepers.

In their quest to establish themselves as a trustworthy and innovative player in the market, the startup takes a proactive approach. They engage with these agencies, seeking their input and addressing any concerns they may have. By doing so, they not only build relationships but also create a smoother pathway for growth and expansion.

The startup understands that by collaborating with the gatekeepers, they can navigate the complex landscape of regulations and gain the necessary approvals to operate their service. This strategic partnership with local government agencies not only helps them gain access to a larger customer base but also establishes their credibility and compliance with industry standards.

2.2 - Example in a Consulting Context

A consulting firm specializing in environmental sustainability realizes that environmental advocacy groups hold significant influence over potential clients' decisions. To establish credibility and gain access to lucrative contracts, the consulting firm actively collaborates with influential environmental organizations.

Recognizing the gatekeeping role of these advocacy groups, the consulting firm takes a proactive approach to engage with them. They participate in joint initiatives, share knowledge, and contribute to the development of sustainable practices. By doing so, they position themselves as trusted advisors and increase their chances of securing high-profile projects.

Through their collaboration with environmental advocacy groups, the consulting firm not only gains access to potential clients but also demonstrates their commitment to environmental sustainability. This strategic partnership not only enhances their reputation but also opens doors to new business opportunities.

2.3 - Example in a Digital Marketing Agency Context

In the digital marketing industry, social media influencers and bloggers often act as gatekeepers to reach a target audience. A digital marketing agency forms partnerships with popular influencers, providing them with exclusive content and access to private events.

Understanding the influence these influencers have over their followers, the agency leverages their reach to promote their clients' brands. By providing exclusive content and access, they establish mutually beneficial relationships with the gatekeepers. In return, these influencers promote the agency's clients to their followers, resulting in increased brand visibility and customer engagement.

Through their strategic partnerships with social media influencers and bloggers, the digital marketing agency not only expands their clients' reach but also taps into the trust and credibility these gatekeepers have established with their audience. This collaboration allows the agency to effectively target and engage with their clients' target audience, driving brand awareness and customer acquisition.

2.4 - Example with Analogies

To further illustrate the Gatekeeper Strategy, let's consider two analogies. In the world of sports, sports agents act as gatekeepers to professional athletes. Agents have the power to broker deals, secure endorsements, and manage the careers of athletes.

Companies seeking to establish partnerships with professional athletes understand the importance of cultivating strong relationships with influential sports agents. By doing so, they can secure sponsorship opportunities, tap into the athlete's fan base, and leverage their popularity to promote their products or services.

Similarly, in the music industry, record labels and music producers are gatekeepers who have the ability to provide exposure and distribution channels for aspiring artists. Artists understand the significance of impressing music executives and getting signed to reputable labels.

By gaining the support of these gatekeepers, aspiring artists gain access to industry resources, marketing support, and larger audiences. This strategic partnership allows them to showcase their talent to a wider audience and increase their chances of success in the highly competitive music industry.


The Gatekeeper Strategy is a powerful approach that allows companies to strategically target individuals or entities with control over valuable resources. By building relationships and influencing these gatekeepers, businesses can gain access to opportunities, resources, and partnerships that can propel them ahead of their competition. However, it is essential to approach the Gatekeeper Strategy with caution and diversify relationships to avoid becoming too dependent on a few key gatekeepers. With the right implementation, this strategy can provide a significant advantage in various industries.

About the author
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga
Arnaud Belinga is the Co-Founder & CEO at Breakcold. He talks about Sales CRM use, marketing & sales. He loves Surfing 🏄‍♂️ & Skateboarding 🛹️.
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