Question :
Does anyone have any tips on the best approach to finding out a single market need/pain point for a international market such as the US or UK? Without actually being local it makes it hard to validate so any thoughts would be welcomed on how this could be done from afar, or at least to break some ground initially.

Question submitted 02/04/20 @ 01:30pm
Industry: International
  • Would you be able to provide a bit more context to the industry, target customer, etc?

    Thanks Leslie, I added another question which has some useful info that I’ll pop into here.

    We offer a SaaS product in the Health & Safety space that essentially digitises the delivery of a companies H&S programme. So offers features such as signing in and out of workplaces (and helping to ensure compliance), live incident reporting, hazard register, notifications, etc.

    We operate across a few industries with the core being: building/construction, education, commercial cleaning, manufacturing, events and venues.

    For the purposes of this question, we are looking at focusing in on one key pain point that our software can solve and then wrap our messaging around that one point. this is specifically for the international market we look at moving into. We understand we may need to pivot, which is fine given that we have the capability, but what I really need to do is get clear around what we need to pivot to. It may be a completely different industry from what I’ve outlined above, and may even mean amending some features to suit.

    Does that help or does it make the water more murky?

    I suggest you look at interviewing customers within your prospective customer base to understand where their key pain points are so you can quantify these and solve the biggest problems for your customers first.
    Think about where these people may be congregating (likely online given COVID19) – where are they finding their information, who are their thought leaders within the industry and get connected to those organizations/individuals to facilitate introductions to prosoects for their opinions.
    I’d also suggest that you may want to potentially offer people compensation for giving you an hour or so of their time. Come prepared with a list of questions around exactly what you want to know that will inform your potential pivot.
    The key is to be hyper targeted in your questions so you can interview ~5 or so people and pick up themes that can inform an MVP for product/market fit beta testing.
    I hope that helps~

    Agree with Kirsty’s comments in terms of interviewing customers. Would be good if you could articulate your key point of difference for your product / potential product and who your competitor set is. What is / can be your sustainable point of difference. Entering an offshore market is not easy, so you want to have a very clear point of difference that is sustainable, in a large target market so that you have a good opportunity. Once you know your point of difference, you can gain a lot of market intelligence by understanding competitors, their market strategy, target markets. It’s amazing how much you can pick up in the public domain. You can even do some mystery shopping to see how the competitor’s handle enquiries. Once you determine your product, you can then understand the effort to pivot your company, and whether the cost / return exists.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts Leslie and Kirsty, hugely appreciated!

    Hey there…some great advice already but here are some other thoughts. The “UK or US” is perhaps far too broad. It may pay to do some significant ‘desk research’ first to identify a small set of potential markets – the US is like 50 countries, focusing on particular states would be more helpful. Targeting the UK from NZ has significant headaches with the timezone being the absolute worst you could hope for.

    There are many tools to quickly survey potential customers online – similar to interviews, as already discussed.

    Also however you could quickly build ‘painted door’ websites that offer what you are trying to pitch in various guises (but stop short of letting them actual purchase), run short bursts of online/search/social advertising and see how far people go down your ‘sales’ funnel and what interest you can gauge. We used to use this model very often at Humanventures.co to test ideas within a week or so and get very strong signals on viability and interest levels.

    Nice thanks Derek, very good insight there and highly appreciated.

    Hi Patrick. You already have some great advice here, but adding a bit more for the US specifically as this is where I’ve spent the majority of my career. Because it is such a big market, everything operates by industry — so how you would approach positioning a software product in building/construction, education, commercial cleaning, manufacturing, events and venues would be completely different. My advice would be to figure out which ONE it resonates strongly with, and as a first milestone secure a validated use case using all the advice above in that single industry. (Ex: if you’re going for manufacturing: start by listing the top manufacturing companies in each region of the US and see on LinkedIn if you have second or 3rd connections in any of them. Also research who you think the target person would be at each company that might be interested in your tool. Message each with a link to a demo of your product or an easy summary of what it does/what problem it solves and ask them if they know anyone who would be interested in learning more. Set a goal for yourself to secure a demo or trial in one company, and that’s your first marker of success!) Start small, and once you have a validated use case other people will give you referrals and you’ll organically secure momentum.

    Also, as a side note with COVID-19 and the general political climate in the US right now, I would avoid both education and events + venues. Commercial cleaning, manufacturing and building/construction (which we call “Contractors”) are better targets. Hope that helps! Feel free to email me if you have any other US-market specific questions: shell.claire.allbon@gmail.com

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