If you have two starting quarterbacks you really don’t have any

That’s the saying in pro football amongst coaches and general managers. Teams need a single leader that everyone needs to rally behind.

Likewise startups need a single customer focus — the early adopter market — otherwise they will diffuse their limited efforts chasing varied markets.

Just yesterday a company presented a compelling product case, but their market strategy was to pursue “incubators, consulting companies, and the federal government.” Hard to think of three more disparate markets! Companies in incubators have no money to spend and selling to the federal government is a very tough job, even for established companies with customers and revenue.

I advised the CEO to think more about pursing consulting companies, there are hundreds of them, from tiny to gigantic, and since they are basically selling consulting time, a software tool that can help make their consultants significantly more productive could pay for itself very quickly.

But whatever the company decides to do, they need to focus their of necessity meager marketing resources on one very well defined market segment, one known for being an early adopter, as opposed to the federal government, a notorious late adopter, if not the latest.

But as noted in a previous post, startups are a succession of small experiments, and that goes equally well for sales and marketing. Start your experiment with a small defined customer niche that you believe you can dominate, but set goals and metrics and if you don’t meet them then it’s time for another hypothesis and another experiment.