You know you are in a tech start up when you see battered copies of Moore’s book ‘Crossing the chasm’ and Ries’s ‘The Lean Startup’ lying around. I recently enjoyed reading this article which made me reflect on my own experiences.
I’d like to share some of the practical things that I have learned.
- There should always be an enemy. It may be a product, organisational inertia, or a risk averse culture. Accept you need a competitor. You are never the only one in the market.
- Be targeted. Aim at one persona, in one industry, with one product. Then add the next persona. You will have to cross-sell, up-sell so prepare that strategy. Don’t get side-trcked by opportunities outside your plan, they will consumer resources and are unsustainable. No one offs.
- Map the persona’s journey. Use focus groups of the early majority. This will enable you to give them the information they need to know, when they need to know it, where they want to find it.
- Start your marketing with industry analysts, thought leadership, case studies, product marketing, sales enablement. Only then add the unexpected, something none of your competitors are doing, to stand out.
- Join their conversations. Even if your tech approaches a problem differently and better, your potential customers will already be trying to solve it. Find where they are discussing it and join in, persuade them of your new perspective and solution.
- Use their words and language. Read and listen to what they say. I’m also in love with tools like MozPro where you can understand search intent. I’m an advocate of using new language to describe new things. But you have to pair it with established language, otherwise you’ll either be speaking a language no-one understands or talking to yourself.
- UX for the early and late majority must present the new in a familiar way or the familiar in a new way. Asking people to see new information in an unexpected way is a tall order. Put aside lots of resources for training if that’s what you are planning to do.
- Hire versatile, digitally and tech savvy folks, who get shit done. They need to be able to think strategically and implement it themselves. They need to be willing to change focus as the business needs change. Which they will do, a lot. Don’t outsource to agencies because you can’t afford the best to be dedicated to you.
- Make sure EVERYONE knows the elevator pitch. The whole company needs to be clear on what your product does and what it does not.
- Tell your employees what is going on. Open communications work well; use tools like Slack, a weekly “What’s happening?” email or monthly ‘all hands’. Management by the water cooler, silos and gossip create a culture of politics, bitching and Chinese whispers.
- Consistency is critical if you want to be taken seriously. Which is why brand matters. When no-one has heard of you, delivering on your promises make, or break, your reputation.
Update 14 August 2017: Thanks to LinkedIn folks for sharing their best practice. #12 would be Make sure sales and marketing are joined at the hip.