Targeting Buyers

Marketing is a bit like target practice. You aim for the middle to score the most points.

Start-ups are notoriously bad at targeting their buyers. Instead of using a hunting rifle, they choose a shotgun, scattering their marketing spend over vast areas of ill-defined buyers. Thus their spend per new customer is higher than it should be, and their stable of customers contain awkward fits who will be less happy with the product that well targeted buyers.

Start-ups entrepreneurs shoot their investment wad and go home without winning.

Go-to-market plans need to identify everyone that influences a purchase decision in a viable market segment. If you have not segmented – properly or at all – and you have only vague ideas about the functional and emotional motivations of buyers, their bosses and subordinates, then you are shooting blindfolded and will miss your target.

Here are the essential steps in formulating a sound go-to-market plan:

Be realistic: Whittle down your total market first into your addressable market, then your realistic market. Narrowing your market helps you to narrow your R&D and marketing spend.

Divide to conquer: Segmenting is essential, so make sure you not only segment your realistic market based on appropriate vectors, but that the segments you prioritize are viable (you have a good whole product fit, the segment lacks competition and everyone therein communicates freely with one another).

Know their DNA: Odds are more than one person will be involved in the buy decision. Learn all their separate motivations (functional and emotional), what mandate and veto powers they have, and compose your value propositions and market messages to match.

Only then do you have your sights set and adjusted … only then should you pull the trigger on your go-to-market campaigns.


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