Overcoming Marketing Challenges: Insights from Entrepreneur, Best-Selling Author, and Speaker Seth Godin

May 23, 2023

I was lucky enough to spend time with some Techstars folks recently. And I just wanted to chime in again years after being a mentor with a thought. And the thought is, if your tech is working, but you're not at the scale or traction you seek it might be because you have a marketing challenge.

My hunch is your marketing challenge is around some simple concepts. The first one is this, while you might be pushed and trained to say we have made a product for everyone for the world, for the industry, there is almost no product, even mighty Apple computer, that is used by everyone. If you had one percent of the people in whatever market you're imagining, that would be a lot, that would be amazing. If five of The Fortune 500 were your eager, loyal, patriotic customers, that would be a good place to begin.

In my case 20 best sellers in a row, not one of them has reached more than one percent of the addressable market. The first thing is the smallest viable audience, not the biggest possible audience. The smallest audience that you could thrive with. Who are they exactly, by name, by worldview by mindset?

Number two: Different people want different things. Go read Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. It's an urgent, important, essential, foundational text on this topic. Early adopters. They want something that's new. Whereas people who are laggards, who like to go last, they are only going to go when they feel like they have no choice. 

Too often startups make it about them. Go look at your website. Is your website about you? Or, is your website about what your customers need, want, dream of, talk about?

So those are the key points in less than five minutes. Your smallest viable audience, telling a true story, that resonates with the people you're telling it to. That's what marketing is. It's not advertising. It's not hype. it's not bluster. If you can get this right you can serve your customers. If you serve your customers, they can be the next source of funds and momentum that you need. You've already done the incredibly hard work of pleasing investors. Now find people who need to hear your story and tell it to them in a way that they can hear it, appreciate and tell the others.