It’s sounds crazy to me now, but a few years ago, that’s pretty much what I believed. I thought that if you built a great product, then people would come, in swarms!
Oh how wrong I was… How silly I feel thinking back of those days.
Sadly though I am not the last person on earth to have believed that. And in reality it is not a bad thing.
When you’re building something to solve a problem or to help soothe someone’s needs, and you feel you did a good job, you honestly believe people will be all over your product.
It’s not a bad thing, but it is a very dangerous way of thinking, and it really scares me when I don’t see a clear and credible go to market slide in a presentation deck.
It scares me when founders think things will sell themselves because the product is great, or that the app they’ve just launched will be downloaded tens of thousands of times a day without a clear acquisition strategy (and budget).
Yes, there may be a couple of examples of startups that have launched with just a great product and that have acquired hundreds of thousands of customers in their first months. But I am pretty confident that statistically speaking, they are fewer in number than lottery winners.
How are you going to get people to buy?
If you’re thinking of launching a startup (or you’ve already launched), then you’re going to have to think long and hard about:
- How you’re going to find your ideal customers and how you’re going to approach them.
- How you’re going to get people that know nothing about what you do to find out how you can help them.
- How you’re going to get them to trust that your product really can solve the problem or resolve the need.
- Why they should choose you over something else?
- How you’re going to make them trust you as business, when they’ve never heard of you.
- How you are going to show them you are really worth at least what you are asking for.
- How you’re going to give them the confidence to actually get their credit card out and leave their details.
- How you’re going to get them to use the product in the way you want them to use it.
- How you’re going to get them to tell their friends.
Most of these are true in B2B and B2C, and in most verticals.
The execution of the above will be made in different ways depending on what you sell, and who you sell it to… But the overall approach is the same.
If you’re launching an app:
- How and are you going to find your ideal customer?
- How are you going to tell them about your app?
- How will you get them excited enough to actually listen you out or read or view your ad?
- How will you get them to actually take action, now, to download the app?
- How are you going to make sure they use it… at least once?
- And then again another time?
- And another?
What About B2B?
If you’re selling a SaaS solution to small and medium businesses:
- Who exactly are you going to be selling to, who’s going to be taking the decision to buy?
- How are you going to be approaching them with a bit of scale?
- How will you show you are better than other similar solutions?
- How can they trust you can do what you say you can do?
- Will you get them to try it out for free? If so, how are you going to ensure they really use the solution?
- Will you get them to pay to try it out? How will you demonstrate value?
The reality is that when you’re launching your startup, the biggest enemy is time.
Time is against you from the moment you start…
You need to work things out very quickly, for your investors, and for you.
And unless you are super well funded, the number of mistakes you can make, even if you learn from them quickly are few.
You’re not going to have the time to learn how to do all the above!
Some common scenarios
A few scenarios I often see are:
Startup launches with no digital marketing specialist, thinking that people will just come… They find out people don’t, they read about digital marketing, try and put a few things in place, make a few mistakes and still have slow growth. From there, it’s complicated! Team morale is down, confidence is low with investors and prospective investors and cash is running out. The future is bleak!
Startup launches thinking they don’t need anyone.
They get early success, but haven’t built the foundations for growth. This is nasty scenario as, for a while your growth looks good as you’ve hit a pocket of early adopters, but as you’re looking for that continued growth, suddenly things flatten out. You wonder whether it’s the product, or your messaging, or maybe the pricing. You fiddle about confidence is down in the team, with the investors, and your cash is fast running out as you had already started scaling things. Turning things around at this point is very, very difficult.
You launch with someone with a marketing background.
They understand the theory behind marketing your product. They create a great brand, but then… The execution online isn’t there.
They try things out, but sadly they are beginners and the learning curve is steep. You’re not looking at being good at this or that channel… You’re going to need to be great at it, if not close to world class. Can it be done? Yes, but you’re going to need someone who can learn super fast, with a huge will to spend nights improving, and a good amount of money to burn as they learn and make mistakes.
Launching a startup is hard, the odds are stacked up against you. You’re going to need to perform and execute at a world class level.
Not selling, or getting people signed up is the biggest cause of failure.
You need to make sure that you have your marketing firing on all cylinders. If you don’t have anyone in your team at that level, you’re going to need to:
Recruit someone, but make sure you get a top online marketer to help you in this process, they’ll know what to ask and who to look for.
Take on an agency (but make sure they know what early stage is! If you don’t know where to go, get in touch I’ll point you to some great people)
Get a consultant on board for a few months, get them to launch your go to market, and get them to train your team.
If you have a general marketer, get a killer consultant to come and train/ mentor them (and you)