If I got one hundred bucks every time I heard an
entrepreneur say they know how to get customers...
(It’s especially funny because in 32 years of executive
marketing and sales experience, I always say that a good
marketer knows they don’t know anything about the market.)
We know how to study the market; we know what the results tell us, where the biggest market opportunity for the specific product or startup is, and how to attract the clients towards our products.
I’m currently in London with one of the startups I work with. We have had a series of meetings with the leading retailer chains in their market all over the UK, and we will have 100 stores presenting the new product in the launch.
And the best thing: this is the start-up’s first shot of approaching the market; so far, we gotten fantastic results, and meeting invitations, with these leading retailers.
And I’m thrilled by the results... but I’m not surprised.
Because this entrepreneur did everything (up to now) by the book. And the beautiful thing is that the right marketing book doesn’t say what to do, it teaches you how.
You might think that this was a startup that knew what to do and did everything right the first time. Nope. This was first time start-up that developed their product for 10 years! They managed to raise the seed investment of 1.5 million dollars, but failed at the last minute to raise the second round of three million dollars after a full year of negotiation, with the contract was one hour from its final version.
And during this year of negotiating over the fund raising, the company made almost no progress, in either development or marketing. But the co-founder and CEO did decide to sell by himself to a few people to get a feel for the users’ responses to the product; who really needed it, did it solve their problem, etc.
He uploaded one post about the new product to Facebook, and with time had around hundred people approach him, mostly elderly people or their adult children. He talked with each one, listened to their needs and pains, gave them information about his product, and scheduled meetings with those that wanted to try it.
He went to their homes, got to know them a bit, showed them his product, let them try it and left the product with them to try for two weeks. Then he would return, collect their feedback, and sell them the product, only if it had really helped them.
He learned directly from the customers, which allowed the company to improve the product in the ways the customers needed most.
When the 2nd fundraising round failed, this entrepreneur decided that he needed to do something different instead of start running looking for another investment. He called me the same night he got the bad news about the investment and we met first thing in the morning. We decided to build a launch plan for the UK market that was marked as the best market fit in our research.
With this plan, the CEO went to his initial investors. After explaining the plan and analyzing the market potential (based mainly on market strategy research we did a year ago and forecasted outcomes), And fortunately, we’ve got their blessing to start implementing that plan.
So we started, and here we are today; it’s our second visit to the UK before the product launch in less than two months.
Attached are the steps we used starting a few months ago, after the fundraising failure, and the decision to find a new direction - until the planned launch to the UK
Step 1 - Go over the market analysis and the 4 corner stones of the company’s market strategy.
Step 2 - Set the objectives and goals for the year ahead.
Step 3 - Create the marketing activities plan for the launch and for the following few months ask two main questions:
- Where are the customers, according to the 4 corner stones? What do they do?
- How will we get there?
Step 4 - Study the different options for sales and distribution, and decide on the sales and distribution model.
Step 5 - Map the market and find the partners to work with in the UK, and schedule meetings with them.
Step 6 - Start implementing the launch plan: start with preparing all in-store presentation materials, and continue with all marketing materials (the site, video, content, and blog posts etc.).
Step 7 - Professional guidance for the sales people and store presenters.
Step 8 - Launching day (D day).
So, here we are, traveling from one side of England to the other, pitching the new product and preparing for the launch!
I’ll keep you posted!You can find more details about implementing your Go-To-Market plan in the 7 elements guid for entrepreneurial business success