Launch Blunder #2 - You believe you know what the market wants

If you’ve done your homework, surveyed the market and have the data to prove your position, skip this post. If you believe you understand the market and don’t need to talk to the market to validate your opinions read on. Maybe it’s your ego or your arrogance that prevents you from talking to the market. Maybe it’s fear. Either way, statistically, you’re a train wreck waiting to happen.

Let me walk you through it. You worked in an industry for a number of years. That experience gives you a sense of intuitive understanding of the industry and what makes it tick. More than likely you were in a mid-level position where you had the benefit of seeing life in the trenches. During this time you saw a set of recurring problems and maybe even formulated some technical solutions to address them. You presented your ideas to management, who didn’t embrace your enthusiasm for the problem. You’re frustrated, hurt and maybe angry. You develop an “I’ll show them” attitude and strike off on your own.

In your spare time you develop a prototype and begin to show it to your peers. Your peers give you glowing feedback and reinforce your sense of importance. You are on your way to being rich.

You get introduced to angel investors who are struck by your enthusiasm and command of the problem. They give you the seed capital you need to take your idea to the next level. You hire a few developers with the goal of moving from prototype to commercial ready.

You spend the next 6 months heads-down developing the solution. You know what features need to go into the product. After all, you lived the problem and know how to fix it. There’s no time to survey the market and talk to decision makers. You know the problem and you have the answer.

Three months into the project you begin to get feedback from the team about specific features that might be missing. They’re smart guys so they’ve started poking around to identify competitive alternatives and what they’re offering. You’re annoyed by the distraction. The competitors don’t get it. You have the answer.

Your team delivers the product in 6 months on budget as planned. Investors are happy with your project management skills and assure you they can help raise more money when needed. It’s now reckoning time. The product is ready and you’re ready to launch.

You start your product launch carefully. Since you don’t have a big budget you prefer to do a soft launch and to get the product into the hands of a few customers. You reach out to the peers in your network, get a few meetings and demos. You are encouraged by the glowing feedback.

Then nothing happens. No sales. No interest. Nothing.

You panic. It must be the price. We must have the wrong sales guys. Marketing is a waste of money. The prospects don’t “get it”.

Money is running out and your team is demoralized by the lack of sales. They doubt your expertise in the problem and the market. Did they just spend 6 months of their lives building a product that no one wants to buy? How could this happen? They feel betrayed.

It’s happening everyday to startups and big companies. And it can be easily addressed by setting aside some of the arrogance and getting out to talk to the market before it’s too late. What is the problem (in their words)? What are they doing to fix it now (in their words)? How important is this problem in the grand scheme (in their words)?

David Daniels

David Daniels

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