I’ve prioritized sales.
I’ve prioritized product.
I’ve prioritized messaging.
I’ve prioritized marketing.
One item I always kind of left to chance or dare I say luck was the market. The market, just like on Wall Street, is a very fickle…what’s the best word, “thing.”
Great entrepreneurs move and make markets. It starts by influencing people’s conversations.
I know this sounds like high level marketing fluff, because that is exactly what it is! Even though it’s high level marketing fluff, it’s very real, and drives real dollars.
Here’s why: great marketers know how to leverage emotion.
Everybody fears looking like an idiot. Conversely, everyone loves being in the know.
Imagine being a Director of Marketing at a technology company and not knowing what ABM stands for? You would look uninformed or not cutting edge.
Our friends and customers at Terminus have pioneered the term “ABM” or Account Based Marketing into the dinner conversation of Directors of Marketing across the country. Sangram (here) is one of the greatest market movers in early technology I’ve ever seen. Why, because I’m writing about him, his company, and his market. Why? Because Terminus created and packaged up Account Based Marketing into a simple, bite-sized, digestable market. SalesLoft has done it with Sales Development similar to CallRail with call tracking. When I think of those markets, these companies come to mind.
Heck, even the very niche market of One on One (1:1) software, I hear people talk about their one on ones more than ever. Maybe it’s like when you get a new shirt or car, all of sudden you notice everyone else who has the same one.
This is where “brand awareness” and “brand equity” truly do come into play…and it’s extremely legitimate.
If your company isn’t the first or second company out of the mouth from a potential buyer in your market, then you’re not hyping enough — but you need a very, simple, communicable market that they can talk about first.
Logic vs. Emotion
It’s almost too logical: if you build a great product and prove the ROI, then money should flow in.
It’s that simple, right?
No, because ROI calculators, a great product, strong sales tactics, and even a sound message are only pieces of the market.
This is the art of going to a market. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to find one or create one and dominate one.
Sangram and team Terminus even created the Switzerland of conferences called Flip My Funnel.
Competitor of Terminus? Who cares. The market is so big and there are so many prospective buyers, the cost of losing a customer to a competitor is lower than the competitor adding their energy and validity to the market.
Litmus test: can the entrepreneur package your market up where prospects talk about it at a bar and look cool and knowledgable?
Emotion run on markets and markets run on emotion.
Markets move quickly and can be created with the right factors. Just because there isn’t one today, doesn’t mean there won’t be one in 9 or 18 months.
If the second or third level executive has never heard of your market or company, why should they even pay attention to their subordinate coming in with a new technology, especially when there are 4 other vendors in 4 other imperative markets vying for the buyer’s time and budget? Why should the subordinate risk political capital about an innovative technology without a wave of market validation.
Of course this is where crossing the chasm comes in.
Fast forward 2 years, when everyone is talking about your market. At that point, the buyer is afraid of being left out because so many other companies and your colleagues have adopted and found success with your product.
How Do You Build and Navigate Markets?
1. You must have a very compelling story around a very real problem.
This is going to sound insanely stupid simple but it’s actually more complex than it reads.
You must have a market for someone to talk about so they don’t sound like an idiot. Here’s why, only the best bullsh*tter’s (and I mean this in most benevolent way) in the world will not sound like an idiot when talking about the “feature-rich cloud storage platform based on compression technology” market. The average person will look insufficient trying to communicate that market, problem and/or value prop to anyone particularly their boss who controls the purse strings.
Challenge to every entrepreneur reading this post: does your product have a defined market where someone can easily convey the market (think back to Account Based Marketing), but also the major problem you and your product is solving in that market (for ABM, less than 1% of leads are converted to closed ops, that needs to be fixed).
2. Innovators and early adopters are your life blood to building a real market.
Who remembers the first few friends who purchased an iPhone? If you weren’t that person, do you remember what you initially thought about it? Perhaps it was “that’s just a fad?” or “that thing is big and clunky, I’ll never buy one” or “I love clamshell Razr phone and nothing will stunt my style.”
For me, I remember thinking, “damn, that’s pretty sweet but for 600 bones and the risk of bugs, I’ll wait for V2.”
Your earliest customers not only give you usage which is oxygen, but they also give you real data and stories to prove (and share) your product’s value.
3. Keep Selling If Your Market Isn’t White Hot
Do you need to have a white hot market to succeed, absolutely not. Markets ebb and flow. Staying disciplined on your value prop, build great success stories, and focus on amazing customer experience. These will yield fantastic results and a great business.
4. Pivot into an existing market
If you don’t have skills, desire or energy to make a market, then find an existing one and get in the arena!
There are hundreds of ways to go to market and building one is the method highlighted today.
Marketing = Market Development
This post is not meant be an esoteric observation for only entrepreneurs going to market hard in the paint.
If you got nothing out of this post here are some tangible takeaways as real as the space these letters take up on the page:
The market is a real thing.
The market is what people are talking about.
The market is how your champion will begin to easily communicate and compartmentalize the value and story of your product up the chain.
The market is how journalists frame your story.
The market is how you build and organize a community.
The market is created by artists.
The market appeals to emotion.
The market is how entrepreneurs hit a grand slam.
Good luck and learn from great entrepreneurs how they have built and moved markets.