Half of innovation is invention. Creating an elegant, disruptive, and new experience is one of the greatest attractions of founding a company. A product that can change the way people view the world and interact with it – who doesn’t want to build that? Most start ups have no problem focusing time and attention on iterating, improving and perfecting product.
It’s in the other half of the innovation equation that startups often underinvest: go to market. If you build a disruptive product in the woods and no one is around, does anyone buy it?
Simply copying a competitor’s go to market strategy – positioning, pricing, sales motions, and distribution channels - often just is not enough to create a truly disruptive business. Nor does the strategy do justice to the amount of time and effort invested in developing the product. Great products merit innovative go to market.
Go to market means aligning product, engineering, sales, marketing and customer success. The company’s message and position in the market has to highlight and emphasize the product’s unique advantages. The sales people have to pitch those advantages. The pricing of the product has to reflect the pricing strategy: Maximization, Penetration, or Skimming.
Freemium products like Expensify disrupt bottoms up. They leverage the substantially better user experiences they have built to change the cost of customer acquisition economics.
- Expensify’s positioning is iconoclastic (Expense Reports that Don’t Suck).
- Expensify’s pricing enables users to try and use the product, penetrating potential customers with advocates over time.
- Customer support and sales are structured to maximize penetration and engender tremendous account growth rather than immediate revenue maximization.
- Expensify distributes in app stores - the places end users are most likely to seek a new product.
It’s all consistent. The pricing, the product, the brand, the sales and support, the distribution all reinforce the strengths of the company.
Go to market isn’t a throwaway slide on a deck. It’s the way a business educates the world about the amazing products they have built and convinces users that it’s worth switching. Without developing that persuasive skill, the company’s invention will remain just that - an invention.
But, when a company invests just as much effort into perfecting go to market strategy as they do it to the product, they can truly disrupt. Is your go to market aligned? Are you investing as much effort into maximizing your startup’s persuasive skills as inventing?