One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received when looking for start-up investment was, ‘Don’t distract the pitch with more than one product’. When it comes to getting your marketing right as an entrepreneur, the same principle applies, and here’s why.
Getting the business up and running, getting user numbers coming in was underway, and I assumed that investors would now be looking for all the great lightbulb moments and product ideas we had for the company for development two, three, four years down the line.
Wrong. First and foremost, what they were looking for was a very specific product that solved a real issue in the marketplace, with a clear roadmap for how we were doing that, and how their investment would help us do that better.
‘Start-ups that succeed are those that manage to iterate enough times before running out of resources.’
– Ash Maurya (entrepreneur and author of “Running Lean”).
If you rarely get more than 10 minutes to pitch your idea to investors, you have a lot less time to get your target customers on board. Being clear and concise about how you can help potential consumers or users is essential, whether it’s on your social media /online presence, or through your product or service descriptions, and whether you are at the idea or product stage.
Fundamentally, both your potential customers and prospective investors want to know the value of your solution.
Some great questions I was asked were:
1. Why are you doing this?
2. What solution are you offering?
3. Who are you targeting?
4. What is your business model?
5. Why would customers choose you/your company?
6. Have you tested it out and got some feedback?
7. Is iteration possible and happening? (the process of constant improvement and releases after developing the initial version, especially in the tech world)
8. Would people recommend you to others?
9. How easy it is to find you?
10. How easy is it buy and receive your product/service?
If you don’t have an answer to most of these questions, then I highly recommend taking the time to clarify exactly why and what you are offering to the marketplace, then how.
If you do have the answers to at least 1-6, then you are ready to create a clear and consistent story for your customers, and ramp up your marketing with a specific, honest message about what you have that can help.
That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t be working on the rest of it. However, kick-starting your marketing gets you interacting with people interested in your product/service, and that helps you gather the feedback and deep dive data todrive the experience for questions 7-10, plus generate new questions unique to your brand. According to Mckinsey.com, ‘70% of the customer’s journey is based on how the customer feels they are being treated’.
If entrepreneurial success is characterised by the ability to spot a gap in the market, authentic and transparent marketing will build a loyal customer base that values your service. The service that you actually offer now, not the one in your dreams or long-term vision.