I gave a keynote talk at DemoCamp Toronto last night that I call Startup Marketing 101. In it, I covered the three phases of marketing for a startup within the context of a lean startup doing customer development. Here’s the summary of my talk (scroll down for the slides):
1. Customer Development involves testing your offering assumptions and validating that a minimal set of features meets the needs of a specific market
2. Those assumptions are about much more than just product and include: customer, sales, demand creation, market type and competitive assumptions
3. Product/Market fit is about finding a match between a product and a market
4. From a purely marketing perspective, there are three phases to a startup: pre-product, early adopters and scale
5. Pre-product marketing is about starting a dialogue with your market, sharing your expertise, building relationships and building a list of people who may be interested in your product when it is available.
6. Once you have achieved product/market fit with a set of early adopters you need to worry about the following things before you invest in scaling the business further: The Ecosystem (training, support, software), Economics (pricing and sales channels), Pipeline Tuning (testing to make sure you are maximizing the effect of every marketing dollar you’ll spend), The Visibility Foundation and Messaging.
7. The Visibility Foundation – is about figuring out how non-users will observe that others are using the product.
8. Your messaging needs to highlight differentiated value for your segments. You need to describe in very simple terms what you do and the benefits for folks in your segments. Storytelling is important and so is handling objections and giving reassurances.
9. Once you’ve done all that then you can invest in sales, lead generation, PR and marketing staff. This may be a good time to raise money.
10. Once you have established yourself in a market you can move into adjacent markets but you first need to validate a new set of assumptions for those markets.
11. Product/Market fit can be lost – markets aren’t static so things can change. You can also lose it by failing to scale your customer service or by inadvertently changing the product in a way that destroys part of your key value for your market.