Marketing is perhaps the most critical element to the long term success for any entrepreneur. If the product is great and you have early buyers, well that is a good start. But long term sustainability demands strategy and focus. Regardless of the industry of your startup, or the experience of the founder, success in any entrepreneurial effort is predicated on an intersection of two of three key factors.
(1) Product or service excellence
(2) An existing network of potential clients/customers (i.e. the entrepreneur already has customers lined up)
(3) A well developed and executed go to market strategy.
Building and executing a well organised and sustainable go to market strategy is perhaps the most difficult for the entrepreneur to master. Not because the task is necessarily difficult or beyond their abilities but because the effort takes a tremendous amount of time. Time that most entrepreneurs would rather spend improving their product or seeking new customers. A failure to master go to market strategy planning, however, is a common diagnosis for the terminally ill startup.
The 4 steps to help entrepreneurs build go to market strategy that actually works.
1. Identify the problem and present a compelling solution
Assuming that the product or service is well defined and developed, the first step in a go to market strategy for the entrepreneur must be to develop the story that quickly, easily and concisely communicates the value to the solution the product or service provides. This is accomplished by painstakingly pouring over all the elements of the product to address two things.
(1) What is the problem that the product / service addresses
(2) What is the solution provided by the product or service.While seemingly a simple task this can literally take days to refine. But it is an exercise well worth the time because the result is not only the foundational message of the offering (what does your company do), but builds the foundation for being able to communicate this message.
2. Clearly define your buyers
Entrepreneurs are in business to be in business, and as such they seek to sell their product or service. To do so they must know understand, with tremendous detail, exactly who their buyer is. Another task that is seemingly simple, especially if they already have customers lined up, when properly executed the result will frequently identify not just a single buyer but a myriad of potential buyers who would pay for the proposed solution to the identified problem.
These identified would be buyers must be first prioritised and then summarised into a buying persona. Personas are nothing new but far too few startups actually take time to create stereotypes of their buyers which will allow the startup to quickly identify them and to speak in the solution language that these buyers are predisposed to hear.
3. Build the story of value
Regardless of the product or service, no one parts with their money unless they see value. The entrepreneur must take time to develop not just a value proposition, a good practice to be sure, but create a story that paints a picture that naturally underscores exactly where this value lies. The value of your product must be clearly stated in any campaign. The buyer is always the focus and every story you intend to run must be geared towards presenting the best value possible.
4. Build content that broadcasts the story
Once the story is established it needs to be broadcast frequently and across as many channels as possible. It is critical for the entrepreneur to understand and accept that they must always be in story mode. Reinforcing the message illustrated by a well defined narrative of exactly why the solution delivers value. This foundational reality serves as a GPS for business development.
If the entrepreneur commits to developing these four steps then success is much more likely. The result will be better understanding of the value that the product or service delivers to the market place, better representation of exactly who makes up the marketplace, and a clear, compelling and consistent message that is offered to the marketplace in an easily digested story.