I cannot recall a time when I’ve had more conviction about how businesses should approach their go-to-market strategy. Over the last few years, a number of concepts have risen to the top that characterizes core concepts and disciplines that every organization should master. Before I lay out those concepts, I will explain what I see happening, and what I believe should be happening.
What’s the Problem?
In consulting engagements, I see an unusually high number of businesses whose approach to developing products and acquiring customers seems more haphazard than planned. It looks like they think they “have a good idea” then run with it. This “idea” is so exciting to them that they don’t seem concerned with whether or not the idea has a viable market. They just believe it will be successful.
That’s Dangerous Thinking
I believe it is in some ways the “ideation” culture that is to blame. I am not saying that ideation is bad, but that people see others coming up with ideas and making hay, but what they don’t see is the problem that the person experienced in the first place that got that made them want to develop an answer. They don’t see the process the ideator took to refine it or the way he/she found a marketplace.
Lack of Definition
Often times we don’t see the many failed ideas that are strewn along the way; the ones that had no defined problems, for a marketplace of defined buyers, who would willing to pay for a defined solution to their problem.
Acquiring definition is the key success factor for the ideator, but many do not seem to have time for defining. Thier nature is to ideate. They often become quickly disinterested and fatigued by the process of defining. In fact, many founders of businesses I’ve engaged with understand that ideas are a dime a dozen and are fearful that a rigorous process will just invalidate their beloved idea.
What’s the Answer?
Any idea worth pursuing is also worth proving. What I mean by this is proving in the sense of due diligence, rigorous probing and modeling, but not in the sense of removing all doubt, that would be a silly notion.
In the pursuit of “good ideas,” here are four core concepts every business should master that are useful in proving that your go-to-market approach is sound:
- 3D Process – unearth (or discover) what you cannot see, analyze it to understand it, then define it as precisely as you can so that you can design a solution that the marketplace will readily buy and find satisfying. The Lean Canvas, by Ash Maurya, is a great tool to help in defining marketplace solutions that are needed as well as the marketplace that needs them.
- Ideal Customer – defining the right customer, who has a problem that your offerings can answer, where their business profile matches your organization, then focus all your marketing, sales and innovative efforts to acquire satisfy them.
- Buyer’s Journey – joining your ideal customer along their journey to satisfy a need or solve a problem, then engaging them with problem-solving content so that they perceive you as a mentor on their journey (aka “the Hero’s Journey”)
- Competitive & Marketplace Analysis – a rigorous analysis of near competitors (those you will compete with) and far competitors (industry’s or marketplaces that look like yours, but you do not compete with or in), as well as the marketplace you believe you can sell into. In your competitive analysis, examine competitive features, go-to-market efforts, market share and other factors that expose your competitors own insights As well as marketplace advantages and disadvantages. In your marketplace analysis, examine the industry you want to address, its needs, its appetites, its size, and nuances. The final product should be an insights rich document informing your own go-to-market approach and secret sauce.