How to Use Social Media To Promote Your Business

The use of social media is now the most effective way when you need to promote or launch a business or new product. The free access to social networks for prospect identification and the ability to reach a large audience of buyers via content means every marketing or sales leader has to use these channels as part of a go-to-market strategy. When launching a new product or service,   social media provides a rich media platform that with some planning can make it easy for people to share around your message.

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It doesn’t seem like so long ago that promoting, marketing and launching a product whether nationally or global required a massive budget and was one of the barriers to entry the traditional multi-nationals relied upon. But the digital switch by buyers to self-educate on the social networks has re-written both the sales and marketing rules.

The following approach or any part of it can be used by anyone with the right discipline and time.

Use Facebook

Action:

Create a Facebook fan page specifically for your brand or product, then share and network with the Facebook community as it is the largest single social networking site on the web. Remember it is about engagement and then sharing. To build up your fan and advocacy base to give you that critical mass to share your stories/messages, why not offer an incentive to “like” your page, maybe by giving some merchandise or prize.

Suggested Primary Goal:

Create an incentive for people to “like” your page by providing via a free product giveaway in order to grow your fan base.

Use LinkedIn

Action:

With over 400 million business users, one of your first actions should be to create a company page, followed by joining interest groups related to what you are selling. Don’t forget to pimp up your profile with a photo and fill out as much detail in your profile as possible. Learn about “social selling” and how to use content from your blog (see below) along with other content to engage connections. You can also search and tag prospects, influencers and potential partners.

Suggested Primary Goal:

To identify potential buyers and partners for your brand or products.

Website and Blog

Action:

Thanks to WordPress, Weebly, Medium, Blogger etc it has never been easier or cheaper to create your own branded web presence and attract potential buyers (with some SEO and promotional activity). For less than €100 you can have your own domain and less than €500 can give you a fully branded website. Learn to target keywords, read up on SEO and how to share your website URL’s on sites like Plurk, Scoop.it, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest to name but a few, will start to give you a trickle of traffic to build upon.

Learn to write 1000 plus word blogs with titles like Tips, How to, A guide to or Top 10 so you can further use social media to attract potential buyers and improve your search engine results. Try to write a blog weekly but monthly at a minimum. Don’t forget to share and post your blog articles around the web.

Suggested Primary Goal

To make it easier for potential buyers to engage with you while finding out more about your business.

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Product Reviews by Social Influencers

Action:

If possible, prior to formal launch try to get some external product reviews, even recommendations. As the trust between buyer and suppliers is at an all time low, peer recommendations instead of marketing blurb can give your business a much needed injection of interest. Maybe offer your product free in return for publishable references.  Apart from using LinkedIn there is a whole host of social tools (lots are free) that you can use to identify social influencers or connectors. Also do not forget journalists and online magazines, approaching them can be as simple as crafting an introduction letter with an invitation to review or sample your offerings. Ensure you put a unique slant on your business, what problem is it solving and why would people be interested in your personal story.

Suggest Primary Goal:

To gather independent and verifiable 3rd party authority as social proof, which you will then share with potential customers.

Have a Contest

Action:

Who doesn’t love a good ole a contest and they work well on Social media especially in the B2C space. Using your social media channels, offer up some real goodies (if not your actual product then something related to it). Keep it simple, you are not trying to snare emails, you chasing “share ability”

Suggest Primary Goal

Note: Get a fan base engaged before you officially launch your business or product so that when you do launch you have a fan base that could be ready to buy and spread your message for you whether that is on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The combination of your regularly updated blog, website and your social media community activity can be a powerful platform for getting in revenue faster.

Try a Quiz

Action:

It is also easy to create and publish a quiz on your website and social channels. Just do a Google search for “create a quiz”. There are some free and paid options. People like to test their knowledge and if you can relate or match the quiz to your product even better.

There doesn’t have to be a prize but you could combine it with a contest as above.

Suggested Primary Goal: To engage customers and also create more buzz.

Create Infographics or Video

Action:

The rise in popularity of infographics and video content in social media cannot be ignored. Sites like Canva, Visualize, Piktochart and Easel.ly make it easy for anyone with some patience to create stunning graphic stories. You can even create video content online but there is a higher price to be paid here, if your product is very visual then maybe a 20-30 second video for YouTube or Vimeo maybe a must.

Suggested Primary Goal: To provide some wow media formats that could go ‘viral’.

sales motivation

SlideShare

Action:

You can create a PowerPoint presentation that could not serve as a key note presentation but would also publish on Slideshare to spread your message while reinforcing your professional image.

Suggested Primary Goal: Publish on the Slideshare platform to make it easy for people to

These few tips on using social media when launching a business or product are by no mean exhaustive, what else have you tried? The purpose of the article is that with a limited budget and the learning of new skills (social selling, social media marketing, creating infographics, writing blogs, running contests etc) most of us can achieve results beyond our expectations. Oh yeah, did I mention lots of hard work but no pain no gain.

Managing a Startup Business

If you can’t find a way, then make a way!

Starting a business, any business is a brave step. But how do you manage a start-up business as well as find customers or put in place a customer acquisition strategy on tight or even zero budgets. Working with early stage and start-up companies I know first-hand how limited resources can be. The tendency for many small businesses is to focus on the product. They add in more and more features or take comfort in a well designed website or just even they talk about strategy rather than putting in place a plan to find and sell to customers so the business can getting on track to achieving  business success AKA revenue generation. The below list is some actionable business tactics to get your small business sales pipeline moving and put you on the track to success.

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Know your Target market – don’t try to sell to everyone

Product to marketing fit is critical to any business success however a business start-up should never try to be a great product to satisfy all buyers’ needs, this will simply not work as no one product will be for everyone. So step 1 is to try to focus in on one customer target group. It will make the business look more focused, knowledgeable, and professional plus it allows the business to channel its efforts into making one target group happy. The key now is to do a customer targeting exercise (figuring out who your customers are and what they want). I am not saying this is easy, especially if your business is new or you only have 1 or 2 beta customers. Brainstorm on what set of buyers or people who might need your product now by matching it back to what problem your product solves, this is sometimes called your USP- unique selling point or Value Wedge. Also check if it is a fluid market (low hanging fruit to be gathered) by doing some Google searches on related keywords. Balance the fact that you don’t want to define your target market so small or so tightly that it’s something people won’t search for. Think in terms of keywords, search terms or existing topics being discussed on forums or industry buzz.

One Swallow does not make a summer

The lesson here is stay focused on executing the business model and don’t get distracted. A good example of this is a company in the SaaS space I work with, received  a phone call from a big company about doing a demo of their product at their offices which would include a customization element. Even though the meeting went ahead, it came to nothing because my client company was not big enough nor could afford to serve companies in the non-SaaS way. They simply were not big enough to fulfil all the product amendments for this one customer or have a dedicated team to work on the project at the stage where they were trying to find the best product to market fit. This distracted the team for over 6 weeks when they could have been doing more productive lead nurturing work.

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Make a plan

A business plan will at the very least serve as a guide or a roadmap along the way. Too many small businesses talk about being agile or nimble. That is a process or a culture; it is not a business model. What this can often mean is that their limited resources are waiting to respond to the next challenge thrown before them. I am not suggesting that this is wrong as sometimes it is necessary but not all the time so try to build a business plan. The goal is to develop a sound business strategy that provides a reference framework to keep the business on track to grow by building its awareness, developing brand consideration, attracting new customers and closing sales deals.

Tip: Use this Free Business Tools to focus on your business plan to success, time is precious, do not waste it.

Develop a clear brand for your business

A branding is not just for large corporations; from tiny acorns big trees grow! This does not mean spending vast sums on branding but rather it reflects your mission, values and what your product stands for. The major action here is to determine the core attributes of your brand and promote this .Always strive to present your company in the same way, carve out an awareness level on what your brand represents (product innovation, cost leadership, service leadership ) so that it contributes to the overall business in a cost effective way.

Publish great articles

The old adage about content is king is true. Along with being a product or service company also think of your business as a content publishing house. Articles get search traffic via targeted keywords (SEO) but just as important it positions your brand and business as thought leaders. But you have to stand out from the crowd to get attention. Articles need keyword optimised titles PLUS great content, make them factual or research based to further boost readership. No point in publishing articles as a box ticking exercise, make sure the articles you publish are the best so people want to read or download them or don’t bother. Blunt but true.

A few tips on great content angles:

  • Be highly creative or controversial
  • Be the most knowledgeable
  • Have the most research
  • Write strange articles on your industry

Be Social Media Aware.

As a start-up you probably will read loads on inbound marketing, social media or social selling. Being social media aware is more than a few twitter posts or Facebook likes. Every business needs to have a presence and visibility on a variety of Social Media platforms. Create a social media plan (based on article sharing) and then schedule your social media activities so that you build relationships with social influencers, potential prospects, customers and the public. Learn the art of social selling – share to receive.

Keep it lean and mean – know which plates to spin

Like most start-ups you have a lean team so make sure you know what everyone is doing. Who is driving customer acquisition, marketing and sales? Revert back to your plan and prioritise the key initiatives (revenue and product) including major tasks such as content creation, social media interaction and social selling. Time management and knowing which plates to spin can sometimes be complicated for a small business as they dash around from pillar to post. Find and use the right tools, free business tools like Zoho or Trello should save you time or tears. Finally from me to you, a message of sincere best wishes in your business venture. Happy hunting!

Business Consultant

What does a business consultant do?
A business consultant works with a company or small business to review the existing practices in the areas of sales, marketing, product or finance amongst others and then to work with the management to make recommendations for improvements. Most business consultants specialise in one or two areas of business management, such as sales. For example, a software company might hire a sales and marketing consultant to help develop its market reach or customer acquisition strategy.

business-consultant
A business consultant brings expertise, experience and knowledge to help a company improve performance metrics or key performance indicators through the thorough analysis of existing business problems. The business consultants then develop plans for improvement alongside the management team. A business may consider engaging the hire the services of a business consultant for a number of reasons, for example, to get an external view on the business, to receive objective advice and recommendations, to tap into the business consultants expertise, or even as a temporary resource to help with aspects of the business where hiring a permanent employee is not needed.

A business should expect due to the business consultants relationships with numerous markets and industries, the consultant can transfer knowledge and insights that will be beneficial to the company’s growth or profitability. A consultant may also provide organisational change assistance to up-skill existing staff, coaching to staff, business strategy development, or improvement services in a department. A business consultant usually brings methodologies, templates and frameworks to uncover the identification of opportunities and then to act as the basis for recommendations for more effective or efficient ways of performing the business task.

The term “Business Consulting” is overused and can refer to a very broad range of services. There are numerous areas of specialisation with business consulting, in the area of IT (information technology) consulting, HR (human resource) consulting, Sales (sales and business development) consulting and others, many of which overlap like marketing. Business consultants range from the large diversified consultancy companies offering multiple services right down to owner run ’boutique’ consultancies which specialise in one or a few of areas.
The work of business consultants is also becoming more popular in non-business related organisations as well. As the need for professional advice and specialised knowledge grows, other industries such as government agencies, charities, universities, and other not-for-profit agencies are now turning to consultants to uncover opportunities that have helped private industry for years.

A small business consultant such as The Bitter Business will focus on helping smaller business and growth focused companies to improve their operations in sales, marketing and go-to-market strategy. While a consultant may specialise in a specific area they usually have insights in all areas of the business functions. The overall goal of a consultant to the smaller business is to help make the business stronger through identifying opportunities, addressing problems and recommending solutions for implementation.

The practical role of a small business consultant involves communicating with management and staff, reviewing strategy and process, watching the day-to-day business activities to understand what problems exist and why they exist. The small business consultant will work with the business owner or team to create viable solutions to problems, use analysis and research to present findings to the business owner. Also the consultant should be hands on, has the business skill to work closely with all the business stakeholders and staff to gather information which will be used to assess what changes need to take place to improve business performance, improve the business results and reach set goals. Once the gathering and analysing of information is complete, the consultant may develop the actual plans for the business detailing resources, actions and programs to be put in place

Some of the common business consultant’s tasks are:

Analyse and evaluate the business strategy against competitors and within the market.

Recommend strategies and tactics to increase business opportunities.

Create action plans and identify gaps in the business model.

Identify and implement business actions.

Conduct market research and information gathering.

Document findings and then present findings together with options.

Identify business requirements, resources, partners, channels, and routes to market.

Perform sales and marketing analyses and make reports.

Drive process improvements and efficiencies in sales, business development or social marketing.

Implement plans while evaluating the business prospects, goals and objectives for growth.

A business should not wait until it has problems to engage with a business consultant, rather a small business should be proactive in using their knowledge as an external lever to uncover how to make the business better and more successful.

Sales Outsourcing

In Ireland, sales outsourcing or Sales-As-A-Service should be considered as it can offer multiple benefits to a start-up or growing business. Companies can boost its sales functions, accelerate sales and build the business faster by contracting in an interim sales manager or director for outsourced selling, business development or lead generation.

sales-outsourcing

Outsourcing is nothing new as many Irish small businesses already outsource their PR, advertising, marketing or finance functions. In fact a number of recent studies have shown that mid-market companies that are using sales outsourcing can have a competitive advantage over companies that have all these sales functions in house. Lean, agile, high growth companies are now taking a different approach; they are finding sales partners with the experience to cost effectively and efficiently drive their sales strategy.

Building a sales team is not easy or cheap

Recruitment costs and time makes building a sales team no easy task. An outsourced sales partner fit in to take the same company approach to selling while also investing time in getting to know the business. An experienced sales outsourcing company can then provide the sales and marketing skills necessary to go out and win customers. The benefits to a business are instant access to an experienced sale professional who will short circuit the time to find the right markets, customers, messages, and media for exposure. An outsourced sales partner hits the ground running faster, cutting down on the ramp up time to target prospects and new customers.

The sales outsource partner should have the ability to refine or quickly implement the company’s sales strategy. When a company needs revenue, to test or define a target marketing, outsourcing some sales functions is a way to get sales resources fast without any long term commitment.

A major benefit to a budget constrained or small business is that sales outsourcing cuts out a lot of the risk. The investment of time and money into hiring a full time sales person can lead to a company holding on to a person even when they are not delivering on the sales, whereas the agreement with an outsourced sales partner can usually be terminated within 30 days’ notice.

The Bitter Business is owned by a seasoned executive who has the proven experience and skills necessary to oversee a company’s sales efforts and help the founders and management to put it on a path to success. The sales and marketing service on a risk-reward model can utilise existing business relationships, contacts and networking which is put at the disposal of the company. Also outsourcing sales is a great way to kick start demand generation for a smaller business and sales outsourcing means the business is free from having to generate leads from customers in order for the sales partner to start working.

Some advantages of sales outsourcing include

  • Implement fast and efficient sales strategy
  • To reduce the cost of sales (no salaries, fixed cost)
  • Grow the sales resources without adding fixed overheads
  • Access to sales experience and contacts
  • Short circuit the sales cycle
  • Test the best sales process to acquire customers
  • Find the right channels, customer sweet spots and market segments
  • Leveraging the skills and knowledge without incurring expense
  • Direct accountability to the business. Full transparency on sales pipeline
  • A faster return on investment in the sales efforts
  • Results driven as both sides are making an investment!

 

Outsourced sales services are focused on sales acceleration to a business (B2B, sales partners, channel or business partners). Areas where a business could deploy an outsource sales partner could be inside sales to generate and close leads, channel development to speed up the sales coverage, lead nurturing to work the sales pipeline or as an experience sales manager to refine and implement the sales strategy.

About The Bitter Business

The Bitter Business is focused as a sales accelerator. Working with a broad range of client companies, (mostly start-ups and smaller growth orientated business owners) to help them achieve sales and growth targets. We are based in Ireland but extensive experience in US, UK and EMEA markets. Using a combination of networking, social selling, prospecting, telemarketing and good old fashioned selling, the sales services are supported by deep insights into marketing and customer acquisition strategies.

Business Mentoring

Business Mentoring

Business mentoring does not have to cost business money. At some stage in a business lifecycle some free and confidential advice from a business mentor on business or business strategy maybe the boost a company or business owner needs.  Whether a business is in start-up mode or an existing business hitting some bottlenecks sitting down and using a business mentor as a sounding board away from the coalface could be invaluable.

business-mentoring

Business mentoring is not business coaching or a business consultant looking for a day rate, it is also not someone dispensing generic management jargon with little relevance to the business. What a business mentor is about is listening and nurturing, someone with the battle scars (of success and failure) who will take the time to make an emotional investment in the business and person success.

The value of a Business Mentor.

A business mentor is someone with the entrepreneurial business experience that can be relied on as trusted sounding board, independent thinker and a sense checker who is willing to build a relationship, mostly free of charge (coffee is always appreciated). A business mentor could also fill a gap in knowledge or experience without incurring expense.

Think of business mentoring as a business helper, someone whose motivation is to take an active interest in helping the business owner or start-up succeed. The motivation for a business mentor is to keep their own saw sharp and to keep learning while they give.

Maybe this sentence sums up a business mentor, “‘a lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

To make a business mentoring partnership work, both parties relish in leaving the ego outside the door. They are there to chat, explore, discuss, educate and enjoy the time away to think. One big mistake many new or growing businesses make is to “cocoon” themselves where they forgot to reach out when things are not working.

To help find a business mentor, maybe the guide below might help.

  • What do you need mentoring on?  Decide what aspects of the business or skillset a business mentor can help with?  A retired CEO of a large company probably isn’t a good mentor for growth hacking a business on a small budget. So have an objective whether it is for sales, marketing, management, finance etc.
  • Listen and Learn. A business mentor will always seek to understand before being understood. So if a business mentors listens is the business willing to learn?. Business mentors are passionate about helping a businessperson or company who loves to learn and grow. It also means that a good business mentor understands that on-one in business takes every bit of advice blindly, so build the relationship by being honest and open if advice is not practicably.
  • Time – quality over quantity. Both sides need to invest quality time with focused sessions where the real business issues are aired and discussed in confidence. Ensure the time you need and the time the business mentor can give matches each other’s expectations.
  • Driving the discussion. The businessperson or owner drives the discussion and agenda, the business mentor is there to listen, respond and offer up feedback. Business mentoring is at its most effective when the entrepreneur sets the agenda and requests specific insights while also getting broader or deeper insights from the mentor.
  • Business mentor or business coach. The value of a business mentor is to tell it as it is not what a business might want to hear. A business coach or consultant is paid to focus on helping the business or person with specific actions or skills like selling, marketing, business development or presentation skills. Business mentoring is to advise on specific situations or business strategy issues. So sometimes a business needs a mentor, sometimes they need a business coach.

Do take the time to seek out a business mentor, someone who will genuinely care about the business and the person. A business mentor whose motivation is to see business success, business growth and the person flourish. A business mentor who brings passion, emotional involvement and real concern for the business are the keys to real business mentoring success.

Lastly, business mentoring is not a flippant decision for either the business person or mentor. The experience has to be a learning path for both sides. However, the fundamental reason for business mentoring is everyone needs a helping hand, no matter who the person or business. Business mentoring is about building relationships, they can’t clear all the obstacles a business or start-up faces, but a good mentor can certainly show a better route to get to where the person or business needs to get to.

Author Note:  If you would like to chat about business mentoring or have a business idea or plan, I am always interested in meeting. Feel free to contact me. Brian.

Customer Service Tips for Business Growth

Customer service has as much a part to play in customer acquisition or business growth as sales.  Customer service and how it is delivered must evolve alongside the adoption of social media and technology by consumers and business. Customer service is no longer an “after the event” function, it now impacts sales, business growth even product development.  We live in a digital world of connected people and devices. Today the world is talking about new technologies such as the internet of everything, products connected to the home, technologies and apps to improve everyday life.

customer-service

A company’s business prospects or potential customers are as new as these technologies. They are curious and now use different ways to research a brand or company before interacting with it; they are constantly gathering information from social networks and digital media to make informed decisions.

The sales and customer service channels are being rewritten, the buyer journey has been revolutionised like never before. Here are eight things a business should know to help acquire customers and grow a business.

  1. Customers like knowledge and to be informed.

Customers and potential customers will help themselves to product or company information if you provide a content library via the web of FAQ’s with at least 100 questions. If they don’t get it on your website, they most likely will go looking elsewhere in the presale process or phone customer service in “after the event” process.

Help content to support customer interaction should include how-to video content, written FAQs, product specs, replies to queries from social forums and research articles.  The goal is that this open availability of content will satisfy customers quest for information, allowing the customer service team to focus on higher impactful issues that need one-to-one attention. An informative and comprehensive FAQ page is a win for any business because it requires just time, not money.

  1. Customers want it to be personal.

Personalisation is the only game in town. Bland demographics are out. Selling today is all about the uniqueness of each potential client. Prospective and existing customers expect offers that are relevant and useful. Do not simply blast out mass messaging or post links on LinkedIn, nothing worse than ill-timed or ill-targeted messaging from a company to turn off customers.

A simple business tip is to focus on building personal relationships and remembering  about individual preferences uncovered along the way.

  1. Be flexibility with your policies.

Business policies may suit the business but do they endear customers. Consumer data shows that 70% of buyers feel that brands are motivated by a self-centred desire to drive profits rather than any genuine commitment to their customers. Some forward thinking companies are turning that feeling around is by becoming more flexible with purchase policies, returns and cancellations.

In the B2B market, especially in digital goods and software, buyers want to try before they buy and not be locked in to a purchase if not for them. Best in class companies are offering more transparent buying procedures, less restrictive return and cancellation policies. Flexible and transparent polices can act as a customer promoter.

  1. Clear the clutter in purchasing and interaction points .

No matter how big or small your business is, do not put clutter in the way of your customers when they want to purchase or interact. Buyers are educated and most are digital savvy so reduce down the steps when it comes to buying. Take the examples of pre-checking in on flights, paperless tickets for events, touchless payments in shops or ability to download and complete forms ahead of time to save time at hospitals.

These are just some of the examples a business can brainstorm how to clear the clutter and streamline purchasing and customer service.  Where do customers experience the biggest clutter points (usually measured in cart abandonment, exit pages, contact forms and phone calls) in your business? That’s the parts any business should clean up.

  1. Turn customer service into a marketing department.

Customer service is the new marketing. Easy access to information, FAQ’s and touches points to interact with the company impress a customer more than flash ads or meaningless straplines. The old saying of you only get one chance to make a good impression has never been truer with time poor buyers. It really is simple, use customer service as a way to compete and as a customer acquisition channel.

  1. Customers want a multi device experience.

Customers or prospects are searching, researching and checking out websites or social media channels while on the move. The key is to make it easy for anyone to share your content and communications around the web on smartphones and tablets. Ensure to test all the various elements of a customer’s journey on multiple devices.

7. Look at every touch point

Why spend money getting traffic, leads or sales when a bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can kill the customer relationship with a click. In is in every businesses interest to ensure the right skills and information is being deployed, does customer service understand their strategic importance. Focus in on the major touch points, but make sure the whole customer experience has been plotted. Customer service that is not fully integrated or with holes in the touch points can really hurt business growth.

  1. Business mission matters

Business mission matters so share it and live it with staff and customers. Customers and prospective buyers will take note if you let them know the business mission and why you are in business.

The bottom line is the customer service team is often the face and voice of a company. In the digital age a customer’s experiences will be defined by the information, skill, accessibility and quality of the support they receive.

A business who just wants to survive will have to have good customer service as standard, but a company who wants to grow and thrive will always be asking “What is great customer service?” These companies will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to improve the customer service and use it as a customer promotion or customer acquisition channel.

 

 

A Strategy for Business Success

The strategy for business success are built around three pillars: The Product, The Market and The Team. Each pillar or a combination will most likely determine the success or failure of a business. The core pillar or strategy to focus on is “the product to market fit”. In business schools they say that a business fails for two reasons, lack of funding or lack of strategy execution. Strategy execution should centre on getting the product and market fit right. If the product to market strategy execution by the leadership team is not right, the cost to fund the business for customer acquisition, sales, marketing and product development increase to the point where value cannot be captured.

What causes business success?

In business which strategy pillars contributes the most to success of the enterprise, the team, the product or the market? Or put another way “what is the biggest cause of success”? Also which is the weakest link: a bad team, a weak product, or a bad market?

Let us briefly dig a little deeper into these three pillars. Investors and venture capitalists often say they don’t invest in businesses they invest in people, so the team can be defined as the potential effectiveness of the CEO, co-founders and senior staff relative to the market opportunity. Can the team execute against the market opportunity they have identified, will their effectiveness overcome any lack of experience, and has the team the ability to deal with the “never seen it before” obstacles.

The product can be defined as to what problem is it solving and how impressive is the product to any customer or user who actually uses it: How easy is the product to install/set up and use? How feature rich is it? How fast can the benefits be seen? How transformational is it? How well-crafted is it? How has it been tested and what were the results?

The market is the size, number, predictions and growth rate, of those addressable customers or users for the product.

One other pillar that has to be planned for is “the Cost of Customer Acquisition”; meaning that the cost of acquiring a customer is lower than the revenue or profit that customer will contribute. The rate of customer acquisition has to do with execution and the ability of the team to move enough prospects through the sales funnel. Remember also that product quality will not create market size; Steve Jobs learned that lesson with his NeXT business. What a business needs is a desirable product, a big enough market and an economical way to target it.

business-strategy

So which pillar is the Number.1 building block for business success?

If anyone conducted a survey amongst business people on the question of which is the most important factor in business success, they probably would get three different answers.  Some will say team, some on the product, while others will choose the size of the market.

As written about earlier in this article, if you ask entrepreneurs or VCs which of team, product, or market is most important, many will say team. This is an obvious answer because most of their knowledge and reference points in the beginning is the team as the product may not be built or ready to market plus the market will not have been fully evaluated yet.

Marketing and techies will say the product is the most important factor. The business is product driven, creates great products, then markets buy and use the products. The most valuable companies today are brands such as Apple and Google because they build the best products and without the product there is no company. Right? Try building a great team and having no product, or a great big market and having no product.

This leaves “The market”, where researchers, students of business success and business leaders will tell us that the market is the most important factor in a business success or failure. The argument is that in a big market (fragmented market or badly served by existing solutions), a market with lots of real identifiable customers, then the market needs will pull products out of the business. The market is ripe for change, has an appetite that needs feeding and the market will consume, viable products that will feed it. Maybe the product doesn’t need to be the greatest; it just needs to work. And, the market doesn’t care how good a team the business has, as long as the team can produce those viable products.

Has history shown us that the No.1 business killer is lack of market?

To expand on this a little further, maybe the business killer is not just lack of market, but more importantly a lack of product to market fit. Could the building blocks for a successful business be about being in a sizeable market with a product that can satisfy enough of that market to make profits?  Is being in business about “making things that people want and will pay for”

Take the example of search engines, smartphones, online marketplaces even cars, when there is a growing, sizeable market with an appetite for change. Is this the story of telephone directories morphing to the web as search engines, the evolution of the telephone into people’s pockets, the buying and selling of goods being streamlined online or the transportation of people becoming about journeys.

The flip-side is in a market with little appetite for change, a business can have the best product in the world and super leadership team, and it may not matter, the business is going to fail. A business can spend a heap of money digging for years trying to find customers willing to pay for a product, little reward for a lot of effort and the team eventually will disintegrate, and the business folds.

Has history shown us that the No.1 business success factor is market?

When a great business team meets a stagnant market, market wins. When an average business team meets a great market, market wins. But when a great business team meets a great market, then something really special happens. Now this is not to say a business can’t screw up a great market, it has been done many times, but assuming the team is effective and the product is accepted in the market, a great market will tend to return success for the business and a poor market will tend to return failure to the business. So does Market matter most?

A few things worth remembering

Great products are really, really hard to build. So surround yourself with a great team, as a great team will always beat a mediocre team, given the same market space and product appeal.”

Great products can sometimes create new markets. Product that are so transformative to business or consumers it creates a whole new big market and the business becomes a gorilla. Think Microsoft.

The team needs to know how and on what battle ground it will take on and beat the competition to gain market share.

As a business leader or start-up, what should you do next? Focus on the thing that matters; get the product to market fit right. Product to market fit means getting into a good sizeable market with a product that can satisfy that market and capture value for your business. Do whatever is required to get to product to market fit. Seek out people who can help build your vision, change the product, change the sales model, move to a different market, tell customers you need some customer validation for the product, whatever is required.

Lastly, build a team that can make the product to market fit happen.  A team that can go out and get customers buying the product. Next get product usage growing across a wide range of paying customers.  Customer acquisition and market acceptance of the product means the team has got the product to market fit right which means the business can grow by hiring marketing,product, sales and customer support staff. The strategy for business success will always be the product,the market and the team.  So the business plan and go to market strategy needs to address all three.

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