A week or so ago, in the madness of trying to launch a Web site service that we are building (an online wedding planner tool), I was reminded of my first lesson of project management. This was the Rule of the Seven P’s, taught to me long ago by a seasoned project manager when I worked for an environmental consulting firm (which often didn’t follow this rule). The seven P’s are as follows: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Maybe a bit off color, but memorable and true nevertheless.
I thought about how the Seven P’s apply to branding for small businesses and startups, and I was reminded of our first, now-defunct online venture. We tried to launch an online logo design service for small businesses and startups, but we were in such a rush to get it up that we sort of skipped one of the first steps in building a brand: poke as many holes as you can in your concept.
Most people when launching a business are filled to the brim with excitement and passion, and hole-poking seems like the act of a killjoy who doesn’t believe in the product/service. But hole-poking not only helps you figure out how to position your new brand against competitors, but it also lets you know if there are holes in your concept that can’t be filled (which can save you thousands of dollars and hours). Here are a few hole-poking questions to get you started:
- Does anyone offer the same feature set as we are proposing?
- Does anyone in the marketplace already own the position we are contemplating?
- If we have a better offering, how can we prove it?
- If we are competing on price, can we survive a price war (and if it’s an online venture, can we compete with others giving away the service for free)?
- If we have a competitive advantage, is it sustainable? If yes, for how long?
- Is there an 800-pound gorilla in the market? If yes, what niches don’t they address that we could occupy?