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6 Key Evaluations You Should Make Before Launching A Startup

Running a business is hard. Launching a startup from the ground up is even tougher; especially if you’re bringing something new into the market.

 

The problems that arise for most new offerings stem from basic misunderstandings about the target market. Even with previously collected market research, there can be unexpected conflicts.

Common pitfalls when launching a startup are:

  • Thinking that because your product or service solves a problem you have experienced, others will obviously share your appreciation for a solution.
  • The belief that you’re entering a market that’s worth millions, or possibly billions, so the task of securing a small percentage of market share will be easy.
  • Jumping over steps in the process, like putting a product on the shelf before building brand awareness or getting feedback from the market.

 

These things happen far more often than they should. In some cases, companies can weather these types of gaffes and still find success. However, they are the exception. Even a proven business that has achieved success in one location, might fail in a new location.

 

One key way to avoid these types of errors when launching a startup is developing a solid engagement strategy. It starts with conducting a comprehensive assessment of your market, understanding your company’s position, and validating the opportunities therein.

 

If you’re just starting out, there are many things you need to consider before you can successfully get your business off the ground. If you’re already established, knowing your numbers and positioning in market is of greater importance.

 

No matter what stage you are in, going through these six steps before you introduce your offer to the market, can dramatically improve your odds of success.

initial buyer persona before launching a startup

1. Develop Initial Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a representation of your business’ ideal customer. Doing this at the onset of launching your startup will help you articulate to yourself and others what you’re expecting from the public.

 

This can also help you determine where your potential customers are and establish sales funnels that make sense. Keep in mind that these personas will and should change and evolve over time.

 

Crafting buyer personas helps businesses gain insight into who their target market really is. As a result, a business can properly market to that target audience with success.

2. Conduct Location-Specific Market Research

Now that you have a list of who your potential customers are, it’s time to reach out to them.

 

Market research is simply the act of gathering information about your consumers’ desires and preferences. It also involves extensive demographic research and analysis of what one’s customers’ buying habits are.

 

More than anything else however, we strongly suggest engaging actual customers in the area you are looking to conduct business. Getting a sense of how they feel about what you’re selling, as well as learning about other contributing factors, can dramatically change the way you market your business.

 

With the information gathered from market research, a business can change their marketing strategies accordingly in order to best reach their goals. Launching a startup without collecting this data first, is literally going in blind.

 

Additionally, you should find ways to acquire customer feedback during your market research process. Consider offering incentives to get your customers to fill out surveys. These can include coupon codes, free merchandise, etc. For more ideas on how to do this, check out this list of 10 affordable survey incentives.

 

Your customer surveys should contain information relevant to your business; such as customer demographics, buying habits, opinions of your brand, and what solutions they are looking for. You can then use these surveys to compile customer data and improve your online strategy.

collect customer data before launching a startup

3. Collect Customer Data On Congruent Offerings

Doing competitor research is another key evaluation you should make before launching your startup. Are your competitors thriving in a rich market, or is the market top-heavy? These kind of considerations need to go hand in hand with your market research.

 

There is a ceiling on the earnings you can achieve for a given offering. You should be aware of what that ceiling is before you introduce your product or service to the market.

 

Also, try to develop a sensitivity and vigilance about detecting regional and seasonal variables that may influence your sales. Many businesses consider their own periods of growth and contraction, but often miss how contributing factors to other businesses might impact their bottom line.

conduct swot analysis before launching a startup

4. Conduct A SWOT Analysis

Conducting a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis is a common practice in business. Despite this, many business owners still fail to go through the motions of actually conducting one.

 

Some business owners feel like they already know what their strengths and weaknesses are. It’s all in their head.

 

However, actually articulating a compilation of your business’ strengths and weaknesses can be the first step to making serious improvements. These factors put opportunities and threats into their proper perspective.

 

This information also keeps you actively informed; keeping owners from being worried about something that’s already covered, or overconfident about something that isn’t.

 

If you need more information on how to conduct a SWOT analysis, Penn State University has a solid walkthrough on how to conduct a SWOT analysis on their website.

 

The SWOT Analysis seeks to help businesses gain complete awareness of all the factors that contribute to their success. Many businesses use this analysis to make major or minor business decisions as well.

 

Our advice would be to conduct a SWOT analysis periodically. The frequency should align with the factors that are the most subject to change.

revisit buyer personas before launching a startup

5. Revisit Your Buyer Personas

This process should be far more valuable the second time around. By applying the data you have gathered from your market research and customer feedback, you should be on track to a winning engagement strategy.

 

The culmination of your data should provide you with a richer understanding of your target customer, and how they feel about your product.

 

You should also have a better sense of what the projected sales volume ought to be for the areas you are targeting. If possible, use the data you’ve compiled to make predictions on what your sales should look like.

plan sales cycle before launching a startup

6. Establish An Interaction Blueprint

We define an interaction blueprint as a segment of your marketing plan that encompasses both the sales cycle and the service blueprint of a given product or service.

 

A sales cycle is a tactical evaluation of how leads transition throughout the sales funnel, until you close the sale. A service blueprint maps out all the interactions your customer will have with a particular product or service. It also measures the quality of that interaction and the time spent interacting.

 

Having a deep understanding of these aspects within the customer journey will bring insight on ways to better engage your customer. This includes scenarios like remarketing to prospects, how to maintain the customer relationship after the sale, and exploring ways to extend the customer lifetime value.

Avoid The Pitfalls And Have A Successful Launch

Going through this process will greatly increase your chances of executing an effective and successful marketing plan.

 

When launching a startup or new company offering, skipping steps or operating on thin research and guesswork, will only end up costing you money.

 

If you’re looking for help, Spark Colony can assist you with furthering your engagement strategies and more. Drop us a line or give us a call to get started.

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