Implementing an effective go-to-market strategy can be, and usually is, very frustrating. Go-to-market is different from other aspects of your business. Go-to-market is based on making mistakes – lots of them, quickly. The key is to be constantly correcting them.
I was working with a frustrated client today. This client recently left a significant position with a major company in the northeast to start a coaching business.
He’s been working on breaking into his market for the last eight months. Needless to say, he is frustrated with how slowly the market is responding. This frustration is not at all unusual and I’m not at all surprised that it’s coming after about eight months focus.
Most of my work with this client focused on how to take what we’ve been working on deeper. He wanted to talk about doing something different – or just easing off the gas peddle – “maybe I should just let this thing take its own course,” he commented to me. I felt for him. It’s difficult to stay with what appears not to be working. I, myself, often use Thomas Edison’s quote “Insanity is doing things the same way and expecting a different result.” When I was a financial advisor, I always found the toughest decision to make is when to focus on the long-term and when to I realize it’s time to change.
I’d like to tell you that there is a scientific answer to this question, but there isn’t. Whenever I confront this challenge (and I do frequently, both personally and in advising clients), I always think of Willy Wonka & the Chocalate Factory and Veruca Salt. Veruka’s cry of, “I want an Oompah Loompah and I want one now,” led to her destruction. It’s much like the cry – I want a flood of new clients and I want one now. Sometimes, it just takes time.
Here’s what I think. An effective go-to-market strategy takes 12 – 18 months of consistent focus to bear real results. Hitting on the right combination of strategies and tactics can cut that time down to 9 – 15 months. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some quick wins early to give you confidence to get through the pain. During this period, it is critical that you pay attention to the market. Zig, zag, go deeper, refine the message. Whatever you do, stay at it.
Most people won’t do this. They’ll give up – too early. It’s too bad, but it’s true. As I’ve counseled many clients, there is a reason that few companies set out to be ‘average’, yet most become exactly that – or worse.
By the way, this isn’t unique to fast growth. I have a client who owns a personal training studio. She’s my trainer and I was talking with her one day about my frustration. When I started working out, I had more energy and starting looking better pretty quickly (much like my clients feel when they pick up new messaging and they repackage their material). I told her that, now that I had been working out for several months, I wasn’t seeing any new results (much like my client’s frustration). She cautioned me to stick with it. She told me that even though I wasn’t ‘seeing’ changes, changes were occurring. She warned me that this was the time that most people who quit an exercise program do so. She promised me that if I stuck with it, it would be worth it.
She was right.