There are cases on record of companies going viral and it was completely unexpected. Good fortune befell the company and they were showered with fame and fortune.
However, when preparing a business plan, having as a key step, “Then a miracle occurs,” isn’t going to give a venture capitalist the warm and fuzzies. Odds are extremely high that same venture capitalist is going to politely decline your incredible opportunity and wonder what planet you studied business on.
Going to market against an entrenched competitor with nothing more than a wing and a prayer is suicide.
Going to market in any kind of business circumstance with nothing more than a vague idea and a website, even with a great product in hand, is worse than playing the ponies or the lottery. And a whole lot less entertaining.
“Any plan, no matter how poorly conceived, if boldly executed, is better than inaction.”
U.S. Infantry Manual
With Sun-Tzu practically required reading in business these days, a military corollary fits right in.
The fact is, when going to market with your killer app that is guaranteed to succeed, one piece is already in place: you’ve created a killer app, and that takes planning. If you’ve done your research well you know what customers want and a good chunk of your planning and preparation is complete.
Now you need your Go To Market plan. Take your overall marketing strategy and develop a marketing campaign, then each component. Itemize, to the degree necessary to get the job done, each target and task you need to complete. If you’re going against entrenched competitors, even if you’re leapfrogging them with your technological quantum leap, lousy planning for marketing and PR will kill you.
It takes more than a slick website and a couple of handouts to create the market presence you need to go viral. While putting the Go To Market plan in place and executing it may not be more work than what it took to develop your product, it will sure seem like it.
There’s an old saying, “Fortune favors the bold.” I have found that being bold in business without a decent plan decreases the fortune. Develop a plan.
Execute the marketing campaign and monitor progress. Tweak the plan as you go. Make wholesale changes if necessary. But start with a Go To Market plan and then do it!
If you’re going against entrenched competitors, or even any competitors worth their salt, part of your plan needs to include defensive measures. You’re going to get attacked. Whether it’s in the press in interviews, articles featuring the competition, or plain old word of mouth, the competition is not going sit idly by while you take market share away from them.
Plan not only for defending against their attacks, but how to take those attacks and twist them to your advantage. If the competition touts how advanced their product is, counter with your product being simpler and easier to use.
Very seldom does magic and luck come into play. I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck with hard work focused on the Three Pillars of Going Viral: Great product, great marketing and PR, followed up with great support. Develop your plan, work your plan, execute the three pillars, and success will follow.