How to Go-to-Market before Releasing a Product

March 5, 2013

in Marketing, Starting Up

The phrase “go-to-market” is succinctly vivid. I imagine toting some baseball cards or coins to a flea market. People go-to-flea-markets with something they hope others will buy.

However, on the internet, you can go to market without something to sell. You can go to your market with useful free content and build an audience. Through blogs, tweets or other online social interactions, newsletters, and simple free utilities, your startup can build momentum well in advance of your own product release.

It is often easier to build an audience when you are not trying to sell something. People pay attention. People will give you their email address and phone number.

Customer acquisition is the single biggest challenge for any startup. It’s much harder than building the product. It’s much harder than finding investors. It’s much harder than building a team. The entire essence of the business depends upon the company’s ability to acquire and retain customers.

Much like a brick-and-mortar retail store, customer acquisition is something that depends upon the amount of time you’ve had your content available. It takes time for your message to propagate outward. It takes time for people to see your brand 5x before it sticks. The sooner you can start making a name for yourself in your market, the better off you’ll be.

By going-to-market with useful content before releasing your product, you will be much better prepared to hit the ground running once product development is complete. Your track record of useful content will win eyeballs that might otherwise have been averse to paying for something.

In 2007 and 2008, we did an excellent job at offering alpha and beta free versions of our product, along with great technical support and outreach especially on our forums. We did not do a great job at generating thought leadership and blog posts relevant to our market. Blogging was not nearly as prevalent back then.

One of the best current startups that exemplifies this principle is Salesloft. They have released two free tools for LinkedIn:  job change alerts and a LinkedIn prospector searching browser plugin. They also keep pumping out great blog posts and newsletters, including an invited post on Salesforce.com. They produce so much valuable content, I have a hard time keeping up on consuming it all.

Kyle Porter of Salesloft also makes the argument that text is no longer enough for content marketing. This is something we are internalizing in our approach at AccelerEyes, and we’ll be announcing some awesome new content very soon.

You don’t have to wait to have something to sell to go-to-market; you just have to be interesting and useful.

How have you started the customer acquisition process prior to releasing a product?

  • http://salesloft.com/ Kyle Porter

    Dude! So honored to be referenced here on your post. I’m so excited about how the internet has torn down all barriers for connecting with customers and building community with them. We strive to be the slayer of our target community’s challenges…and not just through a paid offering. We want to do it over the phone, in person, on twitter, on the blog, in their email and in their browser. I love hearing that you’re working on new and exciting stuff. Feel free to email me ANY time if you want to bounce wild marketing ideas off me! Best of luck with the new campaigns!

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