The most successful launch strategy is to reduce your risk to nearly nothing. Instead of doing everything yourself, pre-sell the program. Microsoft got itself commissioned by IBM to write DOS and never looked back. See what you can do to persuade a corporation or interested organization to commission you to produce the program you want to write. Then write your basic program of which theirs is a variant. This way, your client covers your overheads, pays for the development, acts as first-class testers, and carries you while you get it all running smoothly. Your client gets what they pay for: a program exclusive to them, exclusive for a certain specified period, or a program denied to their direct competition (that's up to the lawyers). You get a deal you can live with and a huge kick-start.
More opinion is expressed about the U.S. market than any other. To an outsider, America must appear to be one massive, rich, and homogenous market. Everyone seems to be successful. It still draws outsiders to it with the same Klondike-itis that lured the forty-niners to California from gold fields as far away as Australia and Peru 150 years ago.
To this day, even large European firms with long established reputations attack the U.S. market with the understanding of a five-year-old playing Monopoly. They believe that a healthy share of this lucrative market will be the salvation to all their problems. Sales will skyrocket. Profits will multiply. The managing director will bask in fame. Global domination is only a short step away. Sadly, the number of latter day Columbus's that foul up the launch of their products continues. The capital they pour in to get their venture on an even footing frequently comes dangerously close to capsizing the entire organization. They drool over the potential prize yet have no strategy for achieving it.
What they fail to realize is that by the time a successful U.S. company brings its products and services to Britain, they (and its corporation's executives) have been refined by progressive distillation in many submarkets, some as big or bigger than any nation in Europe. Americans' engaging combination of confidence and humility stems not from insecurity but from a business environment that only yields to the flexible and persistent. The United States is not a single homogenous market. There are at least five major markets:
♦ Pacific coast
♦ The Eastern seaboard
Their histories, ethnic composition, industries, temperament, demographics, and legal requirements all differ.
To succeed in such a vast concourse, you have to continue narrowing your sights until you reach an objective you can handle. So discover where the softer, richer markets are and where the greatest concentration of potential buyers live and work. If your software only applies to legal firms doing high-tech cases, your market will gravitate towards the centers of software and hardware development on the Western and Eastern seaboards. All of a sudden you have pulled focus from a hypothetical 283 million targets to several tens of thousands concentrated in a few key cities. This reduces the potential market size considerably and the figures now are real.
The on-going advantage to the client is that they will almost certainly be able to acquire updates and enhancements at less than they'd pay if they were shouldering the whole of the on-going cost.
The ripcord rule of this strategy is that you must not relax on cloud nine. However much support you are given, you will run out of altitude eventually. You must be in control.
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