Lo and Behold, we’re at the bar again on a rousing Saturday night and it comes out that some of the people at our table work in the web and development world. Let the impromptu “Next Facebook” app pitches begin. I like to follow these up with the mind-boggling question, “What’s your business plan.” Here comes the ever-popular reply, “Well, if you build it…” accompanied by hand motions that resemble chugging train wheels, compelling me to complete ham-fisted the colloquialism.
I believe most of us can remember watching Kevin Costner drifting through the corn in of Iowa in Field of Dreams as he listens to the mysteroius voice prompting, “If you build it, they will come.” There must be a magical ratio of popcorn to gummy bears that calcifies this weak plot device into a solid fact within a young person’s mind. This quote is repeated like an incantation by eager, could-be clients at lunch tables, on barstools and, even more horrifying, in meeting rooms. Typically, its recital is followed by the audience’s eyes glazing over as they imagine themselves somewhere else, in a meeting with someone that possesses a business plan. Without a business plan one might as well write “Awesome Idea” on a piece of paper draw a line from it to a big dollar sign and gesture at the space in between as if it was self-explanatory.
Basing a material or a digital product’s success off of, “If you build it, they will come,” communicates several vital pieces of information to any audience with marketing experience. One, the speaker doesn’t understand that traffic does not automatically come with the purchase of a Wix site. Two, they unfortunately lack the ability to separate reality from a movie about magical baseball zombies. Success stories of developers and children making million dollar apps overnight has everyone and their mother pitching their ideas, not understanding that there are marketing platforms and strategies that went into making these products successful. The cream does not rise to the top, the good products with great marketing do.
Before you approach a marketing firm, a development firm or a random guy in a bar, write a business plan for your idea. Make it feasible. That warm feeling is the discovery you can develop and market your SAAS product for under 20 grand. Your business plan is a vital piece of information any person willing to hear your salespitch will wish to see. It not only informs them of what you intend to do but HOW you intent to do it, HOW you intend to create a marketing platform and convert customers. It should convey your goal, the strategies you will employ to achieve these goals, anticipated problems and a realistic timeline and budget these goals can be met within.
Marketing firms, such as ours, can help you put together a business plan, however, it is more encouraging when there is a base to start with. When scope and budget have already been thought out, it saves both sides disappointment. You might be disappointed that the product costs way more than you thought and we’ll be upset we can’t build out your awesome idea. Even worse than that, however, is seeing a client dump money into product development before realizing they have no budget allocated to marketing the thing. Amazing products die every day due to lack of thought to marketing. Ensure yours do not.