Updated: Sep 3, 2021
One of they key factors of startup success for first time founders is how to develop a comprehensive go to market strategy to guarantee their success and taking them to product-market fit and also get them their first 10 customers.
many of the startup founders that I talked to are coming from technical engineering background and for them, the main challenge is not developing the product.
It is how to market the product.
In other words, getting a comprehensive go-to-market strategy is coming way before your product development and MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
Ideally, you should think about go-to-market strategy when you choose your niche. The idea is to decide what problem you want to solve and based on that, decide who will be the right target market.
Most founders, will start developing their product right from here.
Before even writing a line of code, you should start thinking about how to reach out to your target market.
This is called; Go-to-market strategy.
Given the fact that you know your target market and buyer persona (by the way, you may get this part wrong as well for the first few times!), you can think about different ways to get their attention.
The most important part for a newly established startup is to get to their first 10 customers.
This is such a crucial step and milestone for a first time founder for few reasons:
The idea will be proven right.
Initial attraction will pave way for future expansion into the next milestone to get the first 50 customers.
Ideally you can get up to 10 customer testimonial and case studies which will boost your marketing and customer acquisition.
You can start thought leadership content based on the issues your first 10 customers are raising. It is no longer about your product, it is about your customers.
You can get referrals from your existing customer based.
You can interview your customers and publish the content, going into the market more aggressively.
Even if the first 10 customers are using your product for free, you are on your way to start billing your next wave of customers and generate revenue.
So, as you can see how important it is to get your startup (I am mainly talking about software and SaaS startups in B2B space).
And you need to do it fast.
There is no doubt that proper go-to-market strategy will get you there.
So, let's dive in and see what you need to consider as a first time founder for a strong go-to-market strategy.
What is go-to-market strategy?
In simple words, the answer to this question is equal to asking yourself: How I get customers?
Or in other words, where I can find people who are willing to buy my software?
My assumption is that at this stage, you have already interviewed your target market, you have an MVP, and now you are looking for different channels to acquire your first 10 customers.
Let's move forward.
The first question you need to answer, is in a software B2B space, who is the ideal customer from buyer persona perspective?
Which position title will need this? What other criteria or industry I need to focus? What company size and geography I need to go after.
My personal suggestion is start focusing on one buyer persona, one geography and one industry.
Now that you know who are your customers, where they are and what is their language (based on their industry), you can start thinking about how to reach them and how to deliver your message.
The common sense will tell you that you need to choose a channel that your customers already congregating.
If your customers are hanging out on Linkedin, that is going to be your main channel. Either advertise on Linkeidn or create killer educational content EVERY DAY!
If your buyer persona is hanging out on TikTok, that is where you need to focus on content creation strategy.
If there are multiple places that you can reach out to your customers, you need to priorities based on the impact of the channel and also your budget and also time.
Another area to consider is that how familiar you are with the channel and how much you know about participating and creating content on those channels.
If your product needs to be presented and also there are hand holding and education involved, you need to think about sales.
This means marketing enough will not get you anywhere by itself and you need to engage with your customers on 1:1 basis.
Forming these conversations and taking them though the demo and proving that the solution is working in their business, is whole another beast which I have talked about here:
I will talk about this in more details in future.
Channel partners and distribution
Let's face it.
Nobody knows you.
And in B2B space, relationship is everything. Now if you want to fast track your sales and acquire your first 10 customers fast, you can tap into existing companies that are serving your buyer persona (remember, we know who we are going to target!) but do not offer your services.
In other terms, you are not reaching out to your direct competitors.
By offering a margin of up to 15%, you can get their buy in to include you in their messaging and co marketing and also introducing you to your future customers.
This can include co-marketing activities with your partners as well.
You may need to spend some time with your partners sales and presales team to enable them on your value proposition and how the solution works.
You may want to give them free licensing as well so they can go and play with your software.
at the end of the day, you need to have some KPIs for success to measure all these efforts.
This is one of the strongest forms of marketing. But also the hardest.
It is not easy to create an engaging platform for people to talk about problems that you solve.
However, there are lots of how tos online that you can get help on each platform and see how you can tap into the power of community.
Facebook groups, Telegram, Slack and so many more platforms are available to help you build a place so that your target market can congregate.
Also, you can hire a community builder or even tap into influencer marketing.
One of the most powerful tools at your finger tip is to explore who else with access to your customers can spread the message.
Influencers can boost your marketing strategy and messaging by creating hype and excitement and also building trust very fast.
Normally they ask you for payments which totally worth it.
If you have a budget and you do not know how you should split it between influencer marketing and content, choose influencer always!
The reason is the boost they give you may fill up not only your first 10 customers, but also even more publicity.
These are some of the things to consider and make decisions.
Remember, this can change the faith of your startup very quickly and even get you to the valuation you are targeting.
Feel free to reach out to me if you need more ideas.