One of the most common situations we encounter with exciting, hard-charging, innovative companies, large and small, is the desire to move quickly overtakes the need to answer some of the most important questions critical to success. Unfortunately, if left unaddressed, these unanswered questions will bite you in very expensive, and possibly fatal ways.
Here is the scenario: You have made some noise with one or a few of the top tech publications and an impressive crowd-funding campaign, perhaps even attracting a round of early capital. Now you’ve got the attention of the top tech giants. Perhaps you’ve even scored a key meeting in the Valley with one of them, and you have your beta prototypes ready to blow them away.
The first meeting starts off well enough, the 7 or 8 senior people you are meeting with in the room appear excited, but instead of asking only about how your innovation works, they also ask you about things like target markets, unique selling propositions, and your competitive position. These questions catch you off guard a little, but you stumble through them and pivot back to your technology. The meeting ends well, you think, but in the days and weeks after, the follow up still seems focused on those pesky market questions. Then the communications slow, and the opportunity seems to drift away.
It’s What They Don’t Tell You
Our experience is that this happens far too often, and the worst part is that the tech giants won’t tell you directly that you haven’t done your most important work – knowing exactly for whom, and for what problem, your innovation is designed to target at launch. It is not their job to tell you what you should already know, and instead of carrying your product at holiday, they simply wait to see if you will figure it out. Make no mistake – these people are all marketing pros, and if you don’t impress them with the marketing basics, they will not partner with you.
Here are some tips we can share at a high level, and that we work extensively with all of these areas to help our clients.
- Identify the market problem clearly, how many experience it and their level of dissatisfaction with it, and why it’s important.
- Develop and clearly articulate your unique selling proposition from your work above, and avoid spending on features until you have tested that it solves the problem. Once tested, develop your product story (see The Art of Storytelling from Greenline)
- Don’t set artificial deadlines that drive development forward but ignore the marketing plan that needs to be thoroughly vetted. Artificial deadlines (i.e. partner key dates, trade shows, etc) cause more companies to ignore points 1 and 2 above far too often. Move with purpose, but don’t skip steps.
- Know the answers. Finally, to really impress your potential tech and financial partners, address the points above before you meet with them.
It is a certainty that your most coveted tech partnerships (such as Apple) will be asking these same questions to you, and their decisions about whether to spend another minute of their time with you can be made quickly. They just won’t tell you if you failed in your answers. If you need some help reviewing where you are, we have developed numerous effective tools to get clients there quickly.
Who is Greenline?: Greenline has a passion and reputation for helping entrepreneurs and companies successfully bring their products and ideas to market. We help our clients succeed by engaging early on in the development process all the way through launch and into the growth phase of the product cycle. We have a particular expertise navigating how to develop relationships with Apple and across all other applicable channels by leveraging best practices, resources and a rolodex that brings the right people to the table. Mike Crowley represents clients in the U.S. East Coast and Europe for Greenline.
To get a free audit of your Company Readiness contact the Greenline team today.