One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses of all sizes make is not understanding their product-market fit. The old way of discovering this was to hire some “expert” to create a SWOT analysis. If you’ve ever used these, I don’t need to tell you how ineffective they often are. Don’t believe me?
When was the last time you used your SWOT analysis to validate how successful the recommendations in it have been for growing your business?
My approach is different and more straightforward. It can take more initial thought, but has proven time and again for me and the hundreds of businesses I have counseled to work. It can also be reused, revisited and applied to either broad business strategy or specific verticals. Plus, it’s something you can (and should) do in-house. Reach out to me for a free consulting session and I’ll tell you why.
In short, I call this hack “5/50 Research.” It is a process where you study five ideal clients you’d like to attract, find common challenges among them, and then use their own words to shape your marketing and outreach. This is how you do it:
Define the 5
First, identify a list of five companies who would make ideal clients in the next year. Don’t simply name someone like Apple — think hard about the size of the company, your expertise in their business and their potential in the market. It works best to pick five companies from the same vertical. I’ve made the mistake of selecting companies that are too different from each other and it muddied the next steps.
With your list of five, start doing a deep-dive into everything they say. Read every word on their websites and blogs, their annual reports, analyst opinions, newsletters and press. Anything that talks about the vision or direction as a company or a brand should be given special attention, especially if it comes from the executive team.
For each company, document their challenges and where they see their future heading. Don’t apply your own bias to this part—highlight passages from the materials you’ve read and pay special attention to the vocabulary and terminology they use.
Apply to 50
Now, with notes on all five companies in front of you, look for the commonalities between their challenges and goals. Apply this filter when doing so: “Could this challenge or goal apply to fifty other companies like them?” In this way, you won’t capture something too specific to one company, but can message more generally and attract more than just the five companies you started with. If you chose market leaders, lots of other companies are going to want to do what they’re doing.
Adjust Your Approach
Now look at your own messaging. Do you use the same terminology you found in your research? Are your solutions tuned to address their expressed challenges? Make adjustments to your website sections or develop targeted landing pages to parrot their language, feature an article about how you solve a discovered need on your blog, find industry analysts who cover these solutions and pitch them. Finally, measure how well these adjustments perform against your previous marketing and be sure to track which companies are now engaging with you (I can help with that).
Does This Really Work?
My team did this for my agency a few years back and (before it was an over-used phrase) redefined ourselves as a “Customer Engagement Agency.” We had found the verbiage and approaches needed echoed across our five target prospects. It caught on so much that we were written up in a Forrester Wave report as a leader when we were unknown before. It was a field of marketing nobody articulated well, and now we were leaders because we created it from the expressed needs of forward-thinking businesses we wanted to work with.
This led to strategic partnerships, acquisitions and massive revenue growth. Plus, we now had an easy-to-understand position to rally around that everyone understood and prospects immediately saw a need for. Do you do something like this in your business? Connect with me and let’s chat.
Watch this space for Growth Hack #2: Wide-Reach Low-Cost Market Testing.