Pop quiz! What go-to-market principles do you need in place to successfully monetize your product? Choose all that apply.

  1. Positioning
  2. Messaging
  3. Timing
  4. Endorsement
  5. Execution

If you picked every option, you get an A+.

Whether you’re launching a new product or selling your signature solution, you need to get every one of these right to achieve market acceptance and revenue success.


The success formula for monetizing your product

Principle #1: Positioning

Positioning means identifying what your product is and who it’s for. Sounds easy enough. But in my experience, tech companies struggle with this.

Many companies – especially early-stage – want to do too many things for too many audiences. Their positioning turns into a long-winded narrative rather than a razor-sharp message. As a result, the customer isn’t sure how the product relates to them.

The solution is straightforward: Talk to real-world prospects to get your positioning right. What’s their pain point? How does your product fix it better? How much does it matter to them?  Which customer types are willing to pay for it? You need to define your winning product differentiation from your customer’s point of view.

Next, look at the competitors in your space. What positioning are they using? How are your products distinctive?

Once market research is complete, write a one-sentence statement that clearly explains what your product does and who it’s for. Your positioning needs to be relevant for your target customer. No fluff. If it’s a new concept, the positioning needs to have context, like “the first flying car for families.”

If you want to dig deeper, the definitive book on this topic is “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Principle #2: Messaging

Not to be confused with positioning, messaging refers to the words you use to describe your product and its value (e.g. increases efficiency, lowers costs, etc). Messaging doesn’t have to be differentiated. Positioning does.

A note about those words: you need to use terms that people actually understand. I recently spoke with a CEO whose company sells training products. She wanted to call it “knowledge transfer solutions.” It’s training! Don’t make your prospective clients try to figure out what you mean.

Before you start working on messaging, I’m going to send you back to your customers for another conversation. How do they talk about your product, your space, their business? What language are they using? What value are they getting from the product?

Customers will often buy for one use case, and then they find value in an entirely different use case. Be open. Take it all in. They’ll tell you what the message is.


Principle #3: Timing

I’ve seen this happen far too many times: A company has a fantastic product, but timing is not on their side. I’ll be dating myself, but here goes: Remember the Apple Newton? It was the very first pocket computer, developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s – and it was so far ahead of its time that it quickly failed.

If timing is not on your side, don’t give up. Does your product have a lower-level value that customers are willing to pay for today? Then make a pivot. There must be a need for your product to succeed.

Every once in a while, the positioning is so tight and timing so right that lightning can strike. Uber and AirBnB both tapped into the sharing economy. Zoom’s video-first conferencing platform quickly eclipsed WebEx and GoToMeeting when the pandemic hit.

Sometimes it takes time for the market to come to you. When I joined Citrix, the company was 10 years old and only at $14M in annual revenue. Five years later, we were at $600M.


Principle #4: Endorsement

Whether you’re a new company or an established company launching a new product, someone outside your organization needs to talk about how great your product is.

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma. To get new customers, you need endorsements. But how do you get endorsements without customers?

You can build a great marketing campaign with only one or two endorsements (even if they’re not paying customers). I’m going to age myself once again, but the best book on the subject is still “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. The book talks a lot about early adopters, who often become brand or product evangelists.


Principle #5: Execution

Even if you have great positioning, messaging, timing, and endorsements, you can still miss the boat.

Focused, methodical execution is critical, but companies often give up before the wheels start turning. I see this happen all the time. Companies begin with the right execution approach, but abandon their plan before it has a chance to take hold. Instead, focus on testing and evolving rather than restarting.

Be relentless in your execution.


Do you need help as you prepare to go to market?

If you need help making sure these go-to-market principles are aligned for your new product, contact me. I help companies analyze each component, figure out the right strategies and execute against those strategies.