Of all the marketing lessons we give tech startups and entrepreneurs, there’s one setting the stage perfectly for market positioning. Before anything else, own your pond. It presumes you defined your pond – positioning yourself uniquely in a marketplace.
It’s easy to find a single customer and sprint toward that first sale. Rebounding from that early success, if you jump directly into scaling operations before you’ve built your foundation, you risk instability, or worse.
What if this customer isn’t the right target for your business? They may have specific needs that the rest of the industry doesn’t. If you cater your offering to those and create something that can’t be used with others, this customer you reach at breakneck speed
- may be a one-off
- may be over-reaching for what is required for you to own your pond
- might not pay their bills
- may fail before you prove the value proposition
The permutations are endless.
Avoid the trap by defining your business, target, and proposition, and then create a unique story you can own — call it your brand. It’s the perfect way to always be the big fish, in a pond you decide can help build your company
Let’s dive into how you can own the pond. It starts with a quick note on the fear that often drives companies to run before they can walk.
The Report of Your Failure Was an Exaggeration
In 1897, Mark Twain was asked about rumors and newspaper reports of his death. He famously quipped: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
Hold that in your thought.
The reports of start-up failure rates may also be greatly exaggerated. The apocryphal saying is that 90% of startups fail. However, actual data shows that it is much closer to 60%.
If we take 100 startups, that means conventional wisdom would tell us that 10 make it. Reality says that 40 make it. Going from 10 to 40 successful companies is a jump of 300%.
Why then, are we still inclined to feel like the conventional wisdom is right? Fear.
According to the same Cambridge study, there were still more than 16,000 start-ups that failed between 1990 and 2010. We all worry that we’ll be in the bottom rung because we’re not showing our value right — not looking like the big fish.
It turns out that this positioning might be everything. As you’ve likely heard, positioning theory pundits (Al Ries – Positioning, Geoffrey Moore – Crossing the Chasm) love the big fish, small pond adage because it is proven. Once someone gains top-of-mind status, they’re hard to supplant.
When you’re about to sneeze, don’t you always ask for a Kleenex®, regardless of the brand at hand?
GrowthShift is a boutique marketing and strategy consultancy focused on positioning and launching growth-phase technology companies. Headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and with virtual offices in Austin, TX, we develop unique strategy, and messaging essential to positioning new or re-imagined brands for long-term growth. Lead by 25 year technology marketing veteran, Tim Manning, GrowthShift provides a tightly integrated execution of positioning and marketing strategy.
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