Blunt Advice for SUP Day #1: Morgan’s Marketing Bootcamp

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What follows is by Morgan from Gift Pinpoint (7.2). All opinions that follow are those of his alone… and (Morgan says) “anyone else who is very serious about marketing”!

Here’s some completely blunt startup advice for you, SUP Newbie.

You are not the next Steve Jobs. You’re never going to be, okay?

(Hey, if it makes you feel better, that statement is equally as true to me, and almost everyone else. Except for that Mark Z. guy and a few others.)

Every one of us — every single one of us — on day #1, we all think we’ll either be the next Steve Jobs. But you’re not, and you will never be.

Let me make this point more clearly: hope is not a strategy. And the problem with your business model — yes, you! — is that, key components of it rest on hope, on hoping that this or that or this other thing goes well. Hope is not a strategy.

In other words: we can use your genius to build the coolest product and then hope that your ads and coolness and viral word of mouth and Facebook posting will convince everyone it’s the best thing since the iPad – but hoping for this outcome just isn’t enough. Because you’re not Steve Jobs.

Knowing that you’re not the next Steve Jobs, you have only TWO options.

The first option is to go back home and give up. Your passport shall be made! It’s a free country here in Chile! You haven’t yet signed any papers with SUP, so you can still change your mind. You might want to. You probably should. SUP might not be for you.

If you were expecting to build something, and then have the multitudes lining up at your door to get early beta access, go home! SUP isn’t for you.

If you think that your taste is so exquisite, that once you create it, then the world just needs to know about it and you’ll be set, then go home! SUP isn’t for you.

Oh when you get home, go buy a lottery ticket on the way back to your house! I will wish you luck in all your endeavors!

Here’s another alternate path, that I’d encourage every SUPper to take.

Here’s the other path. Lets take your vision for your product you want to build or you are in the process of building. For the purposes of the conversation — humor me for a moment, please! — lets make the following assumption: that no one wants it. What can we do to solve that problem? Since we’re not going home (unless you already did: see option #1!), we need to figure out this nut.

Here’s how I would recommend solving it:

Now, today, before your product exists, before anything, do the following:

With the product not existing, try to convince 30 people to buy it, as though it exists. Use only the minimal technology necessary to achieve this (email them, research to find them, maybe make a very simple landing page so that you look professional or serious at a minimal level, maybe even some quick and dirty Adwords campaigns if you’re feeling adventurous). Do everything up until the point where they would sign a contract or give you money (obviously don’t accept money if it doesn’t exist… go up until that point).

Then come back in two days, and tell me the results. Lets have a coffee and plan the next steps.

What are you waiting for? Why are you even reading this now? Go start finding customers, calling them, meeting them, convincing them to buy your (probably non-existent) product NOW. There’s no time to waste. You’ve waited too long already.

This is important for a few reasons:

* It will teach you that no one else will think your product is as amazing as you do. Just like how no one else will think your baby is as beautiful as you think it is. (Hypothetically!).

* If you can’t figure out how to sell the product to someone, when you have nothing or almost nothing — then you won’t be able to sell it when you have A LOT. Steve Jobs could describe the iPad before it existed and dazzle you so much, you would want to Kickstarter it to pay for it (although Kickstarter didn’t exist then!)

* A very likely result is, no one wants to buy. Therefore, you need to continue trying, changing, testing, until you figure out how to get them to buy. This is your core challenge! If you don’t rise to this challenge, then, you just don’t have a real company.

* Solving this will likely involve changing the positioning of the product… and the product itself.

* It’s your company. Have no doubt about it: The CEO is the Lead Salesman. If you don’t want to knock on doors, then NO ONE WILL. It’s your job to get figure out how to get people to buy it.

* What you can buy with money — a fancier web page, better photos, smart consultants — won’t help you sell it any better. You will spend all that money and then BE STUCK AT THE SAME POINT NOW.

* Therefore, isn’t it better to figure out how to get people to buy, NOW, before spending all that money?

* Remember you were humoring me, assuming for this conversation, that no one will want your product? Well guess what: even if my assumption is wrong (and people do love your product!), then going through this exercise here ONLY HELPS YOU MAKE IT BETTER! In other words: maybe, just maybe, you are the next Steve Jobs! But if so, it only helps to figure out how get people to buy before wasting all your time, energy, money, and enthusiasm building something that, all-too-likely, no one is willing to pay for.

If you don’t follow this advice, you are really just buying a lottery ticket. Good luck, I hope you win the lottery. I often feel like I’ve won the lottery of life many times over — and I really hope you do, too. Good luck with that! And remember, counting on luck is not a strategy.