Contrary to popular belief, marketing does not refer to measuring vanity metrics like website traffic, likes and follows. As it turns out, the key to timing marketing efforts lies in adopting two truths.Natasha Lorraine Menezes
Most entrepreneurs would unanimously agree that a creative idea is the bedrock on which a new venture is built. With that being said, the next step is not always as obvious.
There is no dearth of startups who opine that any delay in writing a business plan can be self-sabotaging.
On the other hand, preparing a business plan prematurely without having a well-defined marketing plan (for customer attraction & retention) is unlikely to get anyone any further.
Two Truths and Three Precursors
Now, there are two fundamental truths you would do well to remember.
Lately, a lot of startups have experimented with the idea of marketing their idea/product as soon as they feel it is viable enough to present it before their audience.
This however, is NOT the safest of ideas.
As it turns out, the key to timing the marketing efforts lies in adopting a balanced approach.
To that end, there are three precursors to a successful startup.
When is it Too Early?
For starters and contrary to popular belief, marketing does not refer to measuring vanity metrics like website traffic, likes and follows.
Marketing denotes investing equal time and effort behind research, strategy, targeting, development, optimisation and amplification.
PS: If you feel your product isn’t quite ready for this, you’d want to tread cautiously. This is an important point which is egregiously undermined by all who think marketing is magic.
Thomas Edison who had many failed attempts before he developed a successful incandescent bulb remarked:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
In today’s terms this means that the faster you ascertain what doesn't work, the faster you’ll be able to find what does and will.
Tell-All Signs of Premature Marketing
If your product is not able to attract the numbers you had initially targeted, maybe it’s time you took a good hard look at your overall messaging. Are you able to communicate the problem you’re trying to solve in a clear, effective manner?
Sometimes the issue is beyond generating leads; it’s the ability to qualify these leads into potential customers and move them down the marketing funnel. At this time, evaluate your targeting, and the persona-problem mix. Move beyond factors like age and demographics. Do you understand the psyche, motivators and next line of influencers?
One of the most tangible signs that you’ve pressed the ‘market’ button sooner than you should have is when qualified leads are not translating into confirmed sales. Despite being a good start, mere lead generation without conversion doesn’t do much good.
Probably, it’s the buying process that needs tweaking? How about simplifying the process, and making it easy to transition between the two stages of consideration and purchase?
Sometimes it could also mean that your buyer has a hard time seeing the true value in your offering. How about communicating efforts towards instilling trust and credibility (a precursor to sales)?
Jumping the Gun?
According to a recent report, nearly 50% of all businesses cease to exist before their 5th year. If that wasn’t overtly flattering, consider this - only 33% make it to their 10th year.
Quite remarkably, these figures have remained consistent through all these years.
Even large-scale economic expansions and other positive measures have not improved the survival rates of startups.
So when is the Right Time?
It all boils down to this all-important question.
When you can learn, gauge, calculate, iterate, and ensure that your product is on a strong footing, you’re pretty much ready to begin marketing the product.
Explore significant and logical evidences to determine whether the problem you’re trying to solve is worth solving, and whether you can make money out of it.
Answer these questions with utmost honesty:
Summing it up
There’s no doubt that your decision to start a new business needs to be applauded. However, ensuring the success of your idea needs both hard work and a generous appetite for risk-taking.
Asking difficult questions and spending time on market research can validate the credibility of your product and, most importantly, identify the right time to market.
Natasha Lorraine Menezes is a Marketer with previous experience in Myntra, Reliance Retail and WGSN. She is a guest Writer for Deccan Herald, Times of India, YourStory & Entrepreneur, published Author and Speaker at Startup events. She is the Founder of The Words Edge, a Content & Digital Marketing company.