Marketing Snacks

BSMS 7: How to run quick go to market experiments


Before you get to product-market fit, you need to test your go to market hypotheses. Here's a 5-step framework to help you execute quick GTM tests.

  1. Pick an audience. Who’s your product for? Envision a persona who has a problem. A job to be done so to speak. Some kind of pain. Maybe they are in a specific industry, or have certain titles. 
  2. Create a value proposition to address the job to be done. What’s it for? Ideally you can make a promise, and create some compelling content that answers questions that someone with this challenge might have. Why should your prospects change?
  3. Get a case study or a quote from an existing customer. If you don’t, you might not be ready to do this experiment in this market, as you don’t have enough to offer. You need to be able to answer the questions for your prospects: “Why should I change with you?” and “How can you help me?”
  4. Figure out where they hang out. Where are they? See if you can find at least 100 of the people in your target audience. In B2B we like to use LinkedIn. It’s the best list service out there because it’s up-to-date, has enough information to use in targeting and filtering, is “pay as you go”, and can be paired with various tools to automate outreach.
  5. Test your thesis with simple outreach messages. These can be LinkedIn inmail or organic connect requests, emails or even facebook or linkedin ads. Make sure to track the data of what people click on, look at and respond to. Your goal is to get meetings or at least contact interaction to learn from their reactions.

You should be able to run one experiment like this at least per month, and possible more often when you get good at it.

Episode transcript


Happy Friday. Welcome to episode seven of B2B SaaS Marketing Snacks. All right, Stijn. I've got a question for you today about many go-to market experiments, and I know that you have a framework so it might be helpful to have you walk through each step of that framework a little bit and make it really digestible and tangible for people to go implement as soon as possible. So to set the stage a little bit, a lot of our clients, especially those who haven't really gotten to product market fit yet or haven't figured out if their product market fit is really sustainable, you have to make a lot of bets about positioning, and messaging, and audience, and value props, and all those things. And so when you don't have a ton of customer feedback or a strong group of engaged advocates, you have to make a bunch of assumptions and then go test them in the market to see what sticks and what doesn't. So I guess the question then for you, Stijn, is what's a good way to start testing some of your hypotheses?


Yeah, that's a very common question, Mike. The interesting thing is that today, with tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, it is relatively easy to find a captive audience for a short message, and just test it, and see if you have something that resonates, if you have something that's valuable for that audience. So here's the five steps that I recommend you do when you want to run a quick go-to market test or pilot. First, you have to ask yourself who is it for. You have to pick an audience. And we like to follow this notion of making a niche as small as you can so that it becomes extremely focused. So how do you envision a persona who has a problem, who has a pain point, some kind of job to be done, a problem that needs solving? So if you can find that persona with a specific job to be done, that's a great starting point.

Then how do you describe that persona? Is it someone who works in a certain industry who has this challenge? Do they have certain job titles, or would you be able to find, based on their LinkedIn description of what they do, based on a project they might be working on, or a technology they use, that they are facing their specific challenge? So answer that question first. Who's it for? Pick an audience. And let's use Kalungi as an example, in our case, this could be, for example, the thesis that we want to test. Will the Kalungi value proposition of helping small technology companies outsource their marketing after they have recently gotten funding and they need to scale fast, will that value proposition from Kalungi, will that resonate with, let's say, an HR leader who works at a private equity firm? That's the experiment that we want to run. We want to test the Kalungi value proposition with the HR leader for a private equity firm. That's our persona.

So we can come up with a couple of job titles, HR partner, people partner, executive talent management, probably a couple of words we can use to come up with the right job titles. Ideally, you find some LinkedIn profiles of example candidates, people who look exactly like the persona that you have in mind, but more importantly, what's the job to be done? What's the pain that they're trying to solve for? In this case, this person might be responsible for helping new portfolio companies or new investments beef up their talent pool, maybe improve the quality of the leadership team, help with an assessment of the current team members. So those could be the pain points, the job to be done that we can use to test our value proposition. So that's step one. Who's it for? Step two, what's it for? What is it value proposition that you now can put forward to address the job to be done that this persona has?

So in the example we're using for Kalungi, it could be an assessment, an audit of a marketing team. Based on a couple of criteria, we could have a value proposition that helps an HR partner working at a private equity firm to assess the quality and the state of the marketing organization of a company that they are considering to make an investment in. So the value proposition, the way we would communicate that, we would also use language that would resonate with this private equity HR leader. And maybe we can make a promise in our offer that we would do this evaluation, this audit in maybe a certain time frame for a certain price point, to make it really clear that this is not only solving a problem, but it's easy for them to get started. And we take away maybe some variables, some question marks about viability of doing this. We need to answer basically the question why should they change, why should they act? And our offer, our value proposition for that matter, needs to connect with the pain that they acknowledge and it has to be relatively friction free to get started.

It would be good, of course, if we can add some kind of a case study or a quote from someone who has gone before them, before our audience, someone who has been in their position and has used our services before, so that would be answering to the next question, why should they listen to us? Why should they consider us? How can we help them specifically? So the first step, who's it for, the second step is what's it for, and then also make sure that you have an example, a case study, ideally, of someone who has gone before them. And then the next question is the fourth step, where are they? Where do you find the people who you've now defined as your target persona, your target audience? Where do you find them? Can you use some of the attributes that make these personas look unique to target them? Are there certain attributes in LinkedIn that you could search for? In this case, we would search for people who are in an investment role or an investment firm, maybe smaller companies having executive language in their job title, things like partner, managing partner, director.

And that's how we would try to find at least 100 people, that's I think a good number, to run this experiment. So I want to find 100 people that have this profile of the persona that we want to target. And you can use Facebook as well. There's many tools where you can of course find people, but LinkedIn is really helpful, and I like LinkedIn much more than any other list building servers or list servers, because it's always up to date because the people who are in the database actually keep it up to date themselves. It's very different from the things like ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg, et cetera. There is plenty of information in LinkedIn to allow you to do an experiment like this, the depth of the attributes, the things you can target and filter on is very good. What's especially powerful if you use LinkedIn with something like Sales Navigator, or the LinkedIn Recruiter Premium Package, you can look at both the contacts database, people in the LinkedIn database and companies.

And it's very powerful when you combine those two, when you look at both to see, for example, the relationship between what people who work at what company, and what's the state of this company? Are they hiring for certain roles? So those will all help you find out where your target audience is and how you can reach them. Then you can use LinkedIn, actually there's some automation tools that will help you do automatic outreach. They're not all approved by Microsoft, so be careful when you use those, but especially combining the company contact view for advanced insights and targeting, I think, is a pro tip when you use LinkedIn to do your outreach.

And now the last step, the fifth step, is really to test your thesis with simple outreach messages. So build some messages that follow the pain that you have identified that your persona can recognize, that they can relate to. Speak to their fears, their dreams, the job that they have to do, the job to be done, and then share the value proposition that you have, the offer, the promotion, maybe the service that you don't necessarily want them to buy, but maybe you ask them for feedback, you ask them to evaluate it to tell you if it would be valuable for someone like them. There's nothing more powerful in human psychology than asking someone for help. That's the best way to make a friend.

So instead of maybe using sales language, you can always ask them, and play towards their expertise, and the role that they are, ask them to maybe provide feedback on what you have to offer and whether that might be interesting for them, or some of their peers, or someone they know. And I think, when you do this, when you do these steps, you find out who's it for, what's it for, make sure you have a case study or a testimonial so you have some kind of a proof point that you've had success servicing this audience, and then finding where they are and doing the outreach with simple outreach messages, I think those five steps will allow you to do a really quick experiment. I think you can run at least one of these per month, and maybe even once per week, once you get better at this. That's my approach to running a quick go-to market experiment for a small technology company.

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