“Potential” is the most important concept in startup marketing.  Startups are all about creating and then realizing potential.  It is our “true north.”

So what is “potential?”  One definition is “capable of being but not yet in existence.”  From a startup marketing perspective, I define potential as the combination of the size of the market and the intensity of the need for your product as it exists today.

A startup’s potential begins with the vision of the founders.  Generally there is some tweaking of the vision based on research around the actual needs of potential customers and the competitive landscape of alternative solutions.  The right business model can also extend potential by enabling you to cost effectively expand market need through demand generation marketing activities.  Startups seeking VC funding must make sure that their potential is sufficiently large to be interesting to the VC.

Generally marketing leaders don’t join a VC backed company until the initial potential has been established.  It is our job to fully realize this potential.  An effective startup marketer is sickened by the idea of falling short of their startup’s potential.  The only growth that is good enough is growth that rides the line of what is possible.  Anything short of that creates an opportunity for a competitor.  Each additional competitor reduces your potential.

Too often startup marketers push the rest of the company to extend potential through feature enhancements while they are falling well short of the existing potential on the marketing side.  Avoid this vicious cycle of chasing markets without fully reaching the potential of your existing market.

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