Entrepreneurs and CEOs can spend years developing their product or service. Finding investors, building a team and refining an idea into something that will sell, all takes time.
So, with all that work now done, surely it should almost sell itself? Well, no actually. It is not quite as simple as that – as the many technology companies that have failed to take off over the decades demonstrate.
In my experience there are two core issues that need to be worked out at the point that a start-up is ready to take itself out into the world and find customers:
- Overcoming complexity
- Understanding the nuanced needs of all the people involved in the buying journey
The heart of many struggles to gain customers is that buyers are human beings and as in all things, complexity kills engagement with prospects. They are faced with a wall of options. To navigate this they need simple, instant ways to understand you. This is regardless of the likely complex range of features and benefits that have been built into your cybersecurity product or service.
Marketing needs to take the years of hard work that have gone into a new service offer and communicate it with just a handful of words. Sometimes even just a single word. This is how initial cut-through in the marketplace is achieved.
Done right, marketing can seem deceptively simple. But like the best athletes, the art of making something look simple takes years of practice and expertise.
When choosing who to work with to develop your lead generation and marketing outreach, you must make sure that they understand this and that they can show you how they will simplify what you say and how you say it. There is a lot of marketing language that will be thrown at you during the planning stages. Cut through this noise and assess the value of the conversation in terms of simplicity in communication.
The nuanced needs of people in the buying journey
After having often spent years developing a new product or service, it can be tempting to have a mindset that starts with what you are trying to sell rather than the potential customer and what they want to understand.
This seems obvious, and many tech entrepreneurs will immediately agree that that is the best mindset. However, almost every conversation that I have with a new client will, within two minutes, come back to the features, and sometimes benefits, of the service.
If someone spends so much time, effort and emotional investment into building a business, it can’t really be surprising that even with the best of intentions, their minds drift back to their business and what they are trying to sell.
A more objective marketing specialist will be able to patiently, but persistently, bring their client back into the customer-first mindset.
It is also important to note that there is not a singular mindset in a potential customer. Businesses have many interests and motivations operating within them. Marketing must be able to understand and harness these differing, sometimes conflicting, interests.
- A CEO will more likely be interested in evidence of how you will improve the bottom line and increase the big picture performance of their business.
- Mid-management will be more interested in the practicalities of deployment and whether it will increase or decrease the effectiveness and workloads of their teams.
- Finance will naturally be interested in the costs, over what period and how the intended return on investment compares to other improvements that could be made to the business.
Each of these groups will have a different role and type of influence in the buying journey. All of their concerns and needs have to be met in the process to maximise the chance of success. So, to go out with a singular message of your features and benefits is unlikely to hit the mark. You need to go and speak to the deeper motivations of the people you are trying to influence.
Getting the marketing strategy right is a very involved process that needs a high level of expertise. However, as a CEO or founder looking for the right marketing partner – making sure that they focus on the issues of simplifying complexity and thinking customer-first is a good place to start.
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