Top 10 Miss-Steps in Go-To-Market Strategies

Top 10 Miss-steps In Go to Market Strategies

I recently was asked to present to the FastTrac program at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development on Go-To-Market strategies. I thought there was plenty of standard textbook material about the process steps to go through when considering market entrance. Instead of sprouting the usual, I thought I would give my “educated” take on the most damaging miss-steps in the process that I have seen over the years. The following summarizes my opinions:

  1. Missing the sweet spot of the value proposition: Often the value proposition is stated as too vague or too specific. Vague propositions say things like “saves money” and too specific statements point to trivial benefits like “Delivers data on grass growing timelines between September and October”. Focusing on stating the value proposition to a specific target audience will help bring relevance to the exercise. Don’t just focus on the quantitative ROI but also on its emotional value. Know the differences between brand attributes, product benefits and product features
  2. Forgetting about the market ecosystem of alternative choices: Like doing nothing; which is always the choice of the consumer. Discretionary spending is just that. Learn to place your product or service within the context of choices and compare your value to those choices. Look for the opportunity to associate with one of those market choices and leverage it to your benefit. If I sold lawnmowers I would make sure I understood the buying patterns of grass seed and fertilizer. Not to mention weed-eaters, edge cutters, etc.
  3. Only selling to the sellers and not the end users: Businesses think that just getting a channel spun up will solve all their revenue problems so they only “sell” to the seller. My experience is that indirect channels respond to the customer demand more often than to vendor push strategies. Sell to the seller by selling and marketing the best to the target user/buyer. That drives a much faster, easier acceleration in revenue. Cisco started this way and see what happened.
  4. Not using your customer’s voice in marketing: Don’t use words and phrases that aim under or over your target market’s experiences. Writing at a Ph.D. level won’t get you the teenage iPhone app buyer. Don’t use industry speak. Insiders get so wrapped up in technical terms that they forget that people don’t know the words and more often if they did wouldn’t care. XML, HTML, Bits and Bots are not useful to market communication. Technical details kills communication and, by all means, lock up the engineers when it is time to write a press release or on-line media content. Leverage the editors of content sites to help you “dummy” down your communication material; they are the best judges of what and how specific markets want their information delivered.
  5. Not accounting for your target customer’s position on the adoption curve: Early adopter markets care much more about thought leaders opinions of your product or service than laggards further down the curve. You strategies must account for where your target market is on the adoption of your type of solution or service offering. There is great academic literature on Diffusion strategies and innovation adoption dynamics. Diffusion of innovation begins with a clear understanding of how past technology and/or consumer adoption cycles have evolved.
  6. Not using every leverage opportunity: There is a great moment, well known to those in the sales business, when Alex Baldwin addresses the sales team in Glen Garry Glen Ross. Explains the dynamics of the ABC’s of selling: Always Be Closing. What this really means is always look to drive any situation to the close of a sale. The same principle applies to start-ups and market introductions. Always Be Leveraging!
  7. Scattering marketing efforts without coordinating the impact: The noise out in the market is too much to not coordinate the efforts for maximum breakthrough. Coordinate communication around an event or significant gathering. Work all the levers of marketing to culminate at a single event or point in time. The impact is exponential. The great consumer companies are experts at this. Movie comes out; McDonalds has happy meals; plastic plates are created with the characters from the movie; your mail box fills with paper. All this around an event in a given space of time.
  8. You don’t find thought leaders and use them to spread your message: I mentioned this again now to emphasize the use of thought leaders in start-ups. The tendency is to shy away from the thought leaders and “tough” members of your target market’s natural community. I believe this is wrong. Early engagement with the “tough” evaluators delays acceleration of knowledge and does little to quickly (and cheaply I might add) spread the word. Go tough early and your value proposition will be stronger, faster.
  9. Fail to quantify the results of your marketing efforts: So much of what in done in marketing is done without really knowing the impact it has on revenue. Leads generated by social media and PPC campaigns are great for feeding the pipeline but do they represent the fastest most effective path to revenue? Using new customer acquisition as a dependent variable and the various efforts in marketing as independent variables will give insight into real effectiveness. Knowing this for sure through a quantitative model that measures the relative impact of your marketing channels is critical for EVERY size business.
  10. Fail to link marketing efforts to selling efforts: Marketing supports sales. Marketing drives more efficient sales efforts through creating opportunities when and where it is cost and labor efficient. Optimized selling efforts means that sales people are closing, not prospecting. Marketing should do that for them. When marketing becomes a standalone effort, the purpose and goals get lost. Make sure that marketing directly feeds sales and salespeople.

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