Most start-ups fail. There are lots of reasons, but in my experience, the most common cause is that they develop technology and not products. Lots of people confuse the two terms, but the distinction is critical in start-ups. Here's why.
According to the book Marketing High Technology by the field's godfather, Bill Davidow, "Marketing must invent complete products and drive them to commanding positions in defensible market segments." Bill called this the Strategic Principle.
In case you've never heard of him, Bill Davidow was senior vice president of marketing and sales at Intel, where he helped the Santa Clara company to become the chip goliath it is today. Later, he founded Mohr Davidow Ventures, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm. The man has credibility.
Let's break down the Strategic Principle.
The first part means this: it's one thing to develop technology that does something cool, perhaps even something that's never been done before. It's another matter to deliver a complete product that meets a critical market need better than the competition. And by "complete product," I mean hardware, software, infrastructure, sales channel, promotion, customer service--the whole nine yards.
The second part means that if your product does not have what it takes to be a market leader, then you might consider segmenting the market more narrowly. Perhaps the product will then have a chance at sustainable market leadership. The catch is that the narrower segment still has to be big enough to be of interest from a business standpoint.
Now tell me, who can argue with Bill's logic? What company, start-up or otherwise, doesn't need marketing?… Read more