Why is it so many founders believe that what their business is really missing is a great marketer to come and push a few switches and play their magic?
They go out and look for someone who could bring their witchcraft, their voodoo Facebook tricks and Adwords “magic” and suddenly everything is going to start flying off the colloquial shelves.
But the truth is that before you start killing it on these channels (or any marketing channel for that matter), you’re going to need PMF.
What is PMF?
PMF is a term that was brought to the world of marketing by Sean Ellis, one of the world’s top tech entrepreneurs and marketers
PMF stands for Product Market Fit.
What does it mean?
Well simply that there is a market for what you are selling.
And if there are enough people out there who:
1. Need your product (Size of the market)
2. Who are ready to pay for it.
Then you may have a business opportunity, and it may be time to take on a marketing professional.
The problem is that before you are certain you have PMF, you shouldn’t really be looking at pulling the whole advertising lever.
You see, many start-ups out there have a product they think is fantastic.
And they’ve sold themselves on their idea.
But unfortunately, they can’t sell the product to their target customer.
Have you got a business?
There are many reasons why this may be the case.
The most common are the following:
– You’ve found a product that solves a pain or a need that the target customer doesn’t know they have.
This means you have 2 sales to make! The first one for the prospect to realise and accept they have a problem or need that needs to be resolved. And secondly that your product is going to help them.
There are many, many start-ups who’ve failed because of this…
You’re basically trying to sell water to someone who should hydrate but isn’t thirsty. So, you’re going to have to sell them that they need to drink before they are thirsty so that they don’t become dehydrated. And then you’re going to have to sell them your water.
– It’s not a big enough need or problem for them to take action on.
Again, this is common enough… The problem might be important for you, and a few thousand-other people but getting that market is going to be too costly and not big enough to make it a viable business.
Unless you are making a very large margin and are selling at a very high price, the numbers just won’t work.
– Your product is too costly for them to use as a solution to their need or problem. Please note that cost is not only about price… it can be the cost of time it takes to use, or the effort it takes.
The whole ease of use of your product is key, and if it isn’t simple or feel simple and easy, then there is a whole added cost to the prospect.
Even if you find it easy to use it doesn’t mean your prospect does.
A good example is the number of people who’ve created new keyboards where you can actually type faster and are more convenient. The problem is that there is a cost to changing the way we type today, and unless you can type faster, by a LOT, then changing is just too costly.
Then of course there is price, and this can be helped by good marketing, but not always.
– They don’t believe your product or service can solve their problem or need, maybe because you didn’t present well enough, maybe for other reasons.
If your product really does solve their problem better than anything else, that, the problem or need is important enough but people aren’t buying, then yes that could come down to the marketing of the offer…
So the first job you should do, before going out to try to get customers is create a whole bunch of experiments to prove that you have product market fit.
How to test for PMF?
Going to ask friends or family isn’t good enough, trust me… A lot of your friends might think and tell you what you do is great, but:
– Will they pay for it?
– You will never have as much time to explain the pluses and benefits of your product or service online as you do with friends.
These experiments have to be done out in the real world with unknown prospects.
Here are a few things you could test:
– Test the appetite for your solution.
E.g. If you’re selling a B2B solution, get on the phone to prospects, or send out a couple of dozen emails pointing out the main problem you solve and what benefits you bring. If nobody is interested, it’s not a good sign…
– Test how good your solution is…. If you truly solve a problem, people will want and need you.
Say you have an app that helps people to get up at the ideal moment in the morning. Give people who really have a problem a free trial for a week or 2.
If at the end of that trial the person doesn’t ask you how to buy it or how they can sign up, then you really have to ask yourself whether your app solves their problem or whether the problem was important enough for them to want to pay for a solution.
– Test how easy your product is to use. How complicated, long to adopt or get working is it?
Say you have a service that is going to give me a weekly shopping list for food made for my dietary target of losing fat mass. If getting started takes hours, or the buttons are all over the place, or I don’t get the emails or whatever reason and people just don’t get started, then you have to work on improving the whole process.
Whatever it is you do, make sure you record and document EVERYTHING.
Do your tests in little groups of people, cohorts.
If you aren’t satisfied with the results you get on a test, see if you can improve.
Make a list of ideas you have that could improve the result.
Then go out and test with a new cohort and see how much you can improve.
Once you have tested all this out and that you are satisfied that you do have PMF and only then, you can start all the acquisition and growth stage.
How are you sure you have product market fit?
Well, as someone once said to me, if you don’t know whether you have product market fit, then you don’t have product market fit.
Once this has been cleared, your marketing team can start mapping out your customer journey maps and start actively going out to market.
But if you don’t have product market fit, if the whole thing doesn’t work, no guru, no hacker, no wizard, no ninja will be able to help you.
Before you go out and market your product or service, you need to ensure you have Product Market Fit (PMF)
Without product market fit, you basically don’t have a market and there is nothing any marketer or magician can do to…
If your growth isn’t where you wish it was you really need to look deep into your product and answer to yourself whether or not you have product market fit.
If you do, then you can go out and look at a marketer, if you don’t, it might be time to think of the stop or pivot options.