Balancing Product Development and Go-To-Market Strategy for Pre-Launch Startups

While crafting a great product is vital, ensuring it finds its place in the market is equally, if not more, critical.

In the world of startups, particularly pre-launch startups, I often find an imbalanced focus on product development at the expense of another equally, if not more, vital aspect: the go-to-market and distribution strategy. This skewed focus could potentially lead a startup down a precarious path – a path littered with the remnants of exceptional products that failed to gain traction due to a lack of audience or incorrect assumptions about product supremacy naturally leading to market acceptance.

Every moment you, as a founder, devote to product aspects such as engineering, design, wireframes, features, and functions, you should be dedicating an equal measure of time, if not more, to your go-to-market strategy. The question you need to persistently address is: How am I going to find customers, convert them, and bring revenue into my business?

The crux of the strategy lies in knowing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Who are your customers? Where can you find them? What are they currently paying? What will your approach be to reach them? It doesn’t matter if your strategy is still taking shape; the important thing is to start building your lead list, establishing qualification criteria, identifying necessary assets, and outlining your partner strategy. The goal is to have customers lined up and ready to buy by the time you go live, as opposed to sending out emails and hoping for conversions.

It’s crucial to remember that having a market ready for your solution is non-negotiable. This includes your early evangelists and your Alpha group. Remember, a strategy built on something like Google AdWords is not a comprehensive strategy. In the words of Philip Kotler, the man often hailed as the father of modern marketing, “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.”

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