What’s the most important factor in product planning and sales/marketing for a technology startup?
In one word: FOCUS…
As a startup, especially in the technology space, it’s too easy to start thinking up all the exciting new usage models using your technology. Before you know it, you’re running three businesses when you should be focused on getting one off the ground.
How to deal with all those cool ideas that come into your head at the most inopportune moments?
Keep a notebook… that way, when you’re ready to grow the business you have some seeds of ideas to use as a starting point. But when you’re just starting out, it’s key to just pick one and FOCUS on it until it’s a paying business.
I just read the case study on ISV eMASON on SoftwareCEO this week. It’s an interesting example of a software company that managed to triple their business in 2009, despite the slow economy and turmoil in their target market of financial services.
How did they do it?
Basically, with a singular focus on quality and solving the customer pain point to the best ability, flexibility and easy customization, being really clear on their unique value, and making it as comprehensive as possible within the bounds of the single point of pain the application is solving.
I think we could all learn from these tips… bottom line:
- understand your customer and feel their pain
- know your unique value – what really distinguishes your solution from the competition
- be fanatically customer-focused
For marketing messages to be effective, you need to really think about who it is that you are speaking to. Too many marketers only think about a single audience for their message: the end customer. The end customer may be your primary audience, but they are not the only one.
There are a number of other audiences that may need marketing messages crafted specifically for them, including:
- Online influencers, such as prominent bloggers in your field, influential websites and analysts,
- Distribution channels,
- Sales and marketing partners,
- the press and media,
- your ecosystem partners, such as complementary software vendors, hardware vendors or system integrators,
- other key stakeholders that your end customer looks to for guidance or approval on their buying decision (this is especially important for B2B applications).
Your end customer will be influenced not only by your marketing messages directly targeted at them, but also by these other stakeholders and influencers. The more consistent messages they receive from different channels, the more likely they are to make a positive buying decision in your favor.
Bottom line: when crafting your marketing messages and marketing plan, don’t forget to build target messaging and budget marketing activities for all audiences that are important in influencing your customer’s purchase decision.
It’s December already… a good time to be thinking about your software marketing approach for 2010. Hopefully the economy will be picking up, customers will be looking for options, and you need to make sure your product is top-of-mind when they get into a buying mood.
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