I learn something new every time I talk with our investors. Quite often, this learning occurs when an investor asks a seemingly straightforward question. Consider the recent: “What are you doing around go-to-market?”
For early-stage companies, go-to-market can be a double-edged sword. Scale too quickly and you risk not being able to support your early customers. Fail to think about scaling early enough and you risk having to spend several quarters playing catch up once you get your initial customers onboarded. So the question becomes, what investments can you make early that will pay off later once you are ready to scale?
At IT’SRAPID we’re making go-to-market investments in three key areas:
1. We engage directly with customers. We’re fortunate to have some of the world’s leading brands on our digital media creation platform. One of our best sources of new customers is referrals from existing customers. We also do trade shows, events and online marketing. But nothing beats a warm intro.
2. We rapidly iterate the product. Real-world feedback on the product makes all the difference. Every customer conversation brings us crucial input on how we can improve our product, new capabilities we need to incorporate into our roadmap, and additional services we should provide to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. What’s rewarding is seeing the smiles of our users when they see their feedback addressed in the product.
Rapid product iteration is key for keeping existing users happy. At the same time, it enables us to solve new use cases at those customers and often helps us gain the attention of prospects as well.
Just last week we were on a call with a prospect who saw the capabilities we developed to help brands create product videos for Target. They loved the idea and wanted to apply it to Instagram. With our rapid product iteration approach, we were able to take our existing capability, update it, and have a working version ready for the prospect in under two weeks.
3. We work with partners. These partners come in many forms, from agencies to retailers, technology providers and industry experts. Partner engagements take time to come to fruition, but can be extremely valuable.
Think of it as a two-step process. We first need to gain the support of major sponsors at the partner. Then we need to engage with the business and product teams at the partner to deliver a mutually beneficial integration or to get our capabilities in front of the partner’s sales team.
Big partners and industry experts get pitched on dozens of potential integrations every week. Whenever we have a partner conversation, we ask ourselves, “what are we bringing to our partner?” Our goal is to bring value to our partners before asking them to bring value to us.
Setting Up For Go To Market Success
As with so many aspects of growing a company, success in these areas comes down to two things: strategy and execution (plus a bit of timing and good luck).
Strategy: Have we identified the right go to market activities? Are we prioritizing them properly? Are we learning and iterating as we go?
Execution: Do we have the people in place to own these activities and execute on them?
To support our go to market efforts, there were two key hires I needed to make. I had not been able to get them done. Coming out of that investor call I knew I needed to act on those hires right away. Sometimes, to get to the answer, what you need is for someone to ask you the question.