I’m writing a series of guest blog posts on Quantitative Product Market Fit for Marketers for Bootstrap Marketing, a silicon valley marketing agency that helps startups launch. It will be a five-part series. Check out part 1 on the Bootstrap site or read on…
A couple of years ago, after my company was acquired and I had put in my 18 months at the new place, I joined one of the big Silicon Valley startup accelerators as an entrepreneur in residence. My job was to listen to startup pitches, give feedback, and work more intensively with a few of them to help them get from where they were to where they wanted to go.
I loved working with these entrepreneurs. They were smart, engaged, amazingly open-minded, resourceful people who were just fun to hang out with. But I quickly realized that most of them had a problem: in order to get from where you are to where you want to go, you need to know two things:
1) Where you are
2) Where you want to go
Sounds simple, right? But it is not simple. A startup’s job is to create a new product that a lot of people will buy. They’re operating in a complex environment – different market segments have different needs, existing products are evolving rapidly, and other startups are chasing the same opportunities. It is a high stakes game, and every player is working with partial information. It is complex enough that frequently members of the same team have very different assumptions and beliefs about those two basic questions.
So I asked myself: how can I help these teams develop a solid, shared concept of their core value proposition?
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to come up with the answer on my own. My fellow entrepreneur in residence Chris Sorensen was struggling with the same issue, and he had the insight that the solution had to be based on a clear-eyed assessment of product-market fit. “What kills most startups?” Chris would ask. “Running out of money before achieving product-market fit.”
So together we got to work on a process to help our startups develop a clear, shared, actionable vision of where they are and where they need to go to succeed. We wanted something that would include these elements:
1) Who is my product for?
2) What’s most important to those people?
3) What are their alternatives to buying my product?
4) How does my product stack up against the alternatives?
5) What could happen to erode my competitive advantage? What do I need to watch out for?
6) What can I do to increase my competitive advantage? What should my strategy be?
Over the course of a few months, we refined this into the strategic framework that we call Quantitative Product Market Fit™. We designed it to mentor startups in the art of profitable innovation. It worked, and we continue to use it today to help both startups and enterprise product teams optimize their product strategies.
So now you might be asking: “Didn’t you say you were going to talk about Product-Market Fit for Marketers?” I did indeed. I have to give credit to Martyn Crew, founder and CEO of Bootstrap Marketing, for the insight that the QPMF framework and process could be just as valuable to marketers as it is to product teams. Martyn invited me to introduce his team to QPMF, and we employed it for a few clients. Those successes led to this series of articles.
My goal with this series is to help marketers create more effective positioning, branding, content, and strategies by using the tools of QPMF to clarify the true competitive position and the possible strategic directions of the products they are marketing. Because after all, Marketing is about doing three things:
1) Communicating the competitive advantages of a product
2) Enhancing the competitive advantages of a product
3) Creating new competitive advantages for a product
A solid QPMF-based understanding of your product and target market can help with all three. The better you connect the real desires and needs of your target audience with the differentiated advantages of your product, the better your marketing will perform.
Coming Next: QPMF: A Secret Weapon for Marketers