Build It & They Will Come
|They might come, if they actually knew about the product. But how will they know about it and what is the process you use to make it happen? A friend could tell a friend, they could read it in the paper or a trade magazine, somebody might phone them at dinner time and sign them up, they could see an ad in a magazine–“Call this number” or “Scan this code”, follow a sponsored link, find you at the top of a Google search.That is the Marketing Challenge. How will your Buyers discover that it is your product that they want? It doesn’t happen by itself.To make matters worse, somebody is probably already out there telling your Buyers things that sound like the same thing…and they’ve already tuned it out.
Once you hit on something that really makes a lot of sense, your competitors start to say the same thing whether or not it’s true. You always have to stay one step ahead. But it’s hard! You had trouble getting the first message articulated.
Marketing is about making sure you get your message to your Buyers in time: before they buy. Marketing is the art of getting the right ideas in the right heads at the right time. (Not to be confused with Sales, which is about getting a “natural person”, not a “market segment” to sign on the dotted line–yesterday, if possible!) But where to start? Here’s the short answer: Talk to potential clients—Today. While you are developing your formal Marketing Plan, start now with this informal one: make time (early and often) for substantive ongoing dialogs with actual and potential clients. Use that information to best structure the rest of a plan that fits your organization’s capabilities and budget TODAY!
What could possibly get in the way of starting Client Conversations? Several things, actually, stemming from the Technophile Founder Personality.
Fear of Landing
Worried that the flood of activity will overwhelm you once your marketing plan is put in motion? “Let’s not prioritize marketing yet, we have more work to do to be ready. There are product features that still need to be built, customer support staff to hire, management books to read…. “ What if you could see the lay of the land clearly? A quality conversation with a potential client can clear the fog for a smooth landing.
Solutions Looking for a Problem
Technologists like Technology. Technical achievement is how they measure their worth. It’s what drives them to create wonderful products before the rest of the world even dreams them. Notice that last point, “before the rest…even dreams”. There are few things more frustrating to a Technologist than creating a product that people don’t know they want—“The Fools!” Whoa, there, big guy. Remember, you ARE special and it takes a different kind of creativity to translate your new vision into terms the rest of the world can understand. People begin listening when the conversation turns toward a problem they are experiencing. If you can’t find words to define the problem your product solves, keep talking to the Clients until you do. Oh, and there is a slight chance that not enough people have that particular problem. That solution might need to take the back burner for now, because that last Client mentioned a huge problem that you can easily solve with the components you already built!
We all love our children, don’t we? Technophiles love their creations that way. They remember the moment they had that special insight (Ah yes, that nobody else could have seen). They sacrificed days, no months, in the sunshine to imagine, design, and bring into existence this functional work of art. They treasure the inspired relationship between the light and dark, words and image, action and response so special to that feature. “Oh, I see an area here and that could be even more functional. No, no! Don’t look at it yet! Wait. It will speak for itself as soon as I get this last little…..” Don’t take too long before you start that Client Conversation. Lose as few sunny days as possible getting the concept articulated then start talking to (Future) Clients about it. If you do find your creation to be pearls before swine, don’t hesitate to put it aside (at least for now). Client tastes evolve, too. If you become part of their life as a vendor today with the product they are envisioning, your more perfect creation(s) may yet see the light of day.
Being the Best Kept Secret in your market is not a good Marketing strategy. “Our new product is so revolutionary, we don’t want the Competition to get wind of it.” At some point you have to tell people what is special about what you’re doing! If you don’t, not even the Clients will know you exist. Remember, the Competition will not be concerned about you until you actually start winning in Sales, and that won’t happen until the Clients know about you. No need to be overly cautious. Aware—yes. Paranoid—no. The key to winning against Competition is getting the Message right first. That’s accomplished by staying in touch with the (Future) Clients.