From Idea to Market: Things to Remember In-Between
For any startup company, the concept of launching a product is exciting, especially once you have launched/released your minimum viable product. This is the lifeblood of startup companies, after all. You have an idea, and you want to bring it to market. Your MVP will test your assumptions, and will get you invaluable data that will allow you to further optimize your offering.
But in-between, you will need to ensure that your product/service is sustainable enough to work properly once it scales. When launching a product, consider to take a step back, find your bearing, and take the right direction in targeting the right audiences.
Here are a few tips to ensure you get started in the right direction.
Find the Right Target Market
Have you tested your idea with a pilot audience? What was the reaction? Have you researched the needs of the market you’re trying to target? Research shows that Americans buy the same 150 products year after year, accounting for 85% of household needs. Thus, convincing customers to change to a new, unknown brand, takes work. The odds are stacked against you, which is why market research is critical. Fortunately, there are several tools available to assist with market research.
Screenshot source: surveymonkey.com
SurveyMonkey gives you the ability to craft an in-depth survey to help you understand your target market and their consumer preferences. Be prepared to run multiple surveys, as trying to answer everything you want to know in one shot isn’t the best approach because you likely won’t get meaningful answers to anything. Focus on making it specific to your business - and try to determine: whether you’re solving a real problem for your audience, what competitors they’re using for their current solution, and what people don’t like about their current solution.
Screenshot source: userlytics.com
Userlytics makes it easy to test mobile apps, display ads, videos, and more. By using both a webcam and screen recording, you can compare the way a user answered the questions with their reactions to understand how people are actually interacting with your product.
Google Insights Dashboard helps you see key information about how people browse and buy. Meanwhile, American Fact Finder enables you to gather information about your target market demographics based on U.S. Census data.
Screenshot source: unomy.com
Do you have the right contacts? Breaking into any industry without the right contacts can be difficult. This is made easier by Unomy, a B2B prospect research platform for small businesses. It can help you find the right contacts at the right companies to get your product in front of your consumer audience.
Prepare Your Infrastructure
If you’re a manufacturing driven company, do you have a solid supply chain? You must be sure you can deliver a product within a timely manner, or you risk upsetting customers who have the chance to become brand ambassadors.
Screenshot source: incapsula.com
Before you even launch your MVP, you should ensure that your IT infrastructure is bulletproofed against downtimes and slowdowns, especially if your service is IT related. If you’re running a predominantly online business, your website and systems need to be able to withstand traffic spikes, should it reach critical level in a short span of time. According to Incapsula, a company that specializes in network optimization and security, businesses should consider establishing a highly availably infrastructure to maximize system uptime and eliminate downtime. Such a setup will be essential in running IT resources that will not crash or freeze under pressure.
In terms of the supply chain, be prepared to outsource work when you need to. You cannot be an expert in everything. Pass the work you cannot do well within a reasonable amount of time to a person or team of people who can. This frees you and your resources to work on things you excel at.
Screenshot source: upwork.com
Upwork is the new brainchild of freelancer marketplaces oDesk and eLance. Here you can find freelancers working in everything from sales and marketing to web design and programming, content creation, and more. The platform supports hourly jobs, as well as fixed-price jobs, so you can find quality work from around the world that will fit your budget.
Screenshot source: freelancer.com
Freelancer is a similar marketplace that allows you to find freelancers to fill in on tasks you can’t complete, or tedious tasks that would otherwise be a waste of your personal time. If it’s going to take you three times as long to build a website on your own, you’re better suited paying for web design while you spend that time prospecting, for instance.
Establish the Capability to Collect and Analyze Data
Your business can’t grow and expand if you’re randomly testing ideas or prices on your target market. To be successful, it needs to run on concrete data and analytics. Several tools are available to assist with this aspect of your business.
Google Analytics lets you collect massive amounts of data about who your website visitors are and what they’re doing on your website. You’ll see data about geography, device type, landing page, exit page, tim on page, and the like. It’s a valuable tool when it comes to learning more about the audience you’re reaching, and seeing which marketing campaigns translate to conversions.
Screenshot source: netbiscuits.com
Netbiscuits offers a similar tool, but expands on the data available. WIth its device detection features, you know where you’re reaching your customers, even if they’re on a smartphone, tablet, a smart TV, or wearable device. You’ll get information on how well each audience is engaged across the various devices, so you can deliver the right content to the right device and improve your user experience.
Have a Plan B
Startups often need to “pivot” when their initial/pilot market is not responding well. Does your company have an alternative plan? Are you prepared to drop everything and change focus? If not, think about what you could do to pivot. Be agile enough to change with the market as the market dictates.
Several successful companies we know and love today have pivoted from their original plan. Take for instance, Twitter. It began as Odeo, a network dedicated to helping people find and subscribe to podcasts. Because of the iTunes market in the podcast niche, they decided they needed to pivot. Within two weeks, the founders ran with the microblogging platform Twitter is today.
Nintendo is well known for its video games, most notably the Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong franchises. Centuries before it began the video game journey, it had been involved in everything from instant rice and vacuum cleaners to a chain of short-stay hotel chains, known as “love hotels.”
An overwhelming 90% of startups will fail, but for the 10% that reach success, it’s because they've developed a product that’s perfect for the market they’re trying to reach. Successful startups don’t ignore anything and they roll with fast growth.