In the Philippines, the startup boom is catching up with the rest of the world. Just recently, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said it was seeking a ₱3 billion budget for the development of thousands of the country’s startups. But how does one know if a startup is on the right track during its early stages of growth?
That’s where Product-market fit (PMF) comes in. While just one of the many factors that can really determine a startup’s success, PMF helps you avoid unnecessary spending and determines if your startup has what it takes to last in the market.
However, achieving the perfect PMF doesn’t come to startups on a silver platter. It would take some time, a great deal of research, and a few operational shifts to determine if you have the right fit.
What is Product-Market Fit?
What startups would need first is a target market and the perfect minimal-viable product or service that can capture and satisfy that market’s appeal (or at least a significant portion of it). This is how PMF improves a startup’s development process. As to how it goes along with your brand essence and messaging, you can come out with better marketing strategies that can convince your target market to make a purchase via a meticulously thought-out process.
According to entrepreneur and software expert Marc Andreessen who coined the very term, “PMF is only achieved when a startup is able to satisfy its customers who are in a good market”. And when he says ‘good market’, that means that it is either sizeable with good profits or a small one with a high demand for your product.
Achieving the perfect PMF
So how can a startup achieve its PMF? While every startup may go on different roads in search of the right PMF for their brands and products, below are some factors that can help make its concept a lot less complex.
Determine the perfect audience.
This one is basic enough for every startup to consider but the real challenge lies in how to tell if you’ve found the right market. It helps to have a significant number of potential customers who you can study and draw up buyer personas from. By studying demographics such as age, gender, and income, as well as psychographics that may include interests and purchasing habits, you can come up with a typical buyer image that you can base your marketing strategies on and adjust your marketing strategies according to what works and what doesn’t.
Improvise, adapt, overcome.
Meme lovers know this one as a Bear Grylls classic and since we’re on the subject of memes, you can also check out another one wherein Dave Chappelle tells us that “modern problems require modern solutions”. Both memes apply to how startups should approach PMF. As mentioned earlier, there’s no easy road to discover a startup’s perfect PMF and it will take a lot of adjustments, changes, and recalibrations to your processes, manpower, and app features among others before you achieve it. Learn to be analytical and discerning enough to know when to shift directions and pivot towards new strategies. Be extra patient. It may be difficult especially during the early stages of a startup’s life, but once you can get it to stand and walk with the perfect PMF, there’s nothing else to do but run for the prize.
Get everyone on board.
Every startup should tell each team member to keep PMF a priority. From those who are tasked to do code to those in charge of digital marketing, keeping everyone aligned about PMF development is essential to keep all aspects consistent. Data is today’s most precious commodity and keeping everyone in the loop about your customer profiles gives them a better understanding of your buyer persona and why your product or service works for your target market.
Go to the market.
Startups should also utilize both internal and external resources to gain a wider reach of their target markets in order to achieve the right PMF. Part of getting to know your customers on a more personal level is by giving them the opportunity to establish a relationship with your brand as this builds loyalty. Start early– perhaps as early as your beta-phase by doing cold calls and reviewing social media feedback. Gathering the most useful insights from your target market gets you closer to achieving PMF even before you launch your product.
Once you have established a healthy relationship with your customers, try your best to maintain it by making the proper adjustments that are in accordance with new trends and market preferences. Doing this will make them even more inclined to choose your product and brand over the competition.