Strategy: Early Market Development and “The Rubber-Chicken Circuit”

On his blog “The Post Money Value“, Rick Segal has some excellent advice for early-stage entreprenuers that find themselves in the spot-light of The Rubber Chicken Circuit. Few startups have the people resources to be able to afford to galavant around the rubber-chicken circuit during their pre-product phase. Even if they have the capital resources for such adventures, the opportunity costs associated with having their senior executive distracted from their primary duties is far too high.

That said, there is also some value in strategically (i.e. selectively) exploiting the spot-light, if you find yourself so blessed.

1) Keeping your nose to the grindstone pursuing an “if we build it, they will come” attitude can result in building a product/service that solves a known problem, but which no-one wants to buy. The rubber-chicken circuit is one place to test out viability in the market.

2) You might also create a product/service that is a wonderful solution to a problem potential customers didn’t know they had. If those customers don’t figure out they have the problem soon enough after release, you’ll be equally unsuccessful. The rubber-chicken circuit is one place to start early market development.

3) The spotlight is notoriously fickle and fad-ish. Your 15 minutes of fame is an opportunity to build brand awareness for the company and its future products. You may not have that opportunity again once your product/service is out the door. The rubber-chicken circuit will have moved on to some other trend-du-jour.

The key is to exploit this opportunity strategically. Set ego aside. Think in terms of company priorities:

1) Where is executive “abc”‘s time and attention best spent?

2) What contacts can give us the best product feedback for the least resource cost?

3) How, where and when do we want to start our market development campaign in preparation for product roll-out?

4) What events can get us the most brand visibility for the least resource cost?

If you think strategically about the opportunities the spotlight offers you will be less likely to be suck into the star-struck trap of the rubber-chicken circuit.

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