If You Build It, Will They Buy?

As author Seth Godin said, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

“If you build it, they will come.” Most of us are familiar with the line made famous by the movie “Field of Dreams”. But customers are not nostalgic baseball fans who will drive for days to watch the ghosts of baseball legends play a game. Once you’ve launched your startup, it doesn’t automatically mean that your customers will buy.

After all, you’ve got a lot of competition. More than 500,000 new businesses launch in the U.S. every month. Worldwide, nearly 137,000 businesses launch every day. The pandemic inspired millions of people to start their own companies. In 2020, 4.4 million new business applications were filed. In 2021, that number was 5.4 million, a new record. The odds of startup success are more sobering. Nearly 20 percent will fail within the first year and nearly 50 percent by year five.

Another distinction is that, unlike a field of dreams, your startup is not standing alone in a cornfield in Iowa. As I explained in my article, “You Talkin’ To Me? If You’re Talking to Everyone, You’re Talking to No One,” launching a new business is more akin to standing in the middle of Times Square. You’re competing with thousands of messages vying for the attention of your ideal customers. It’s a crowded marketplace and just “building it” will not have them beating a path to your door. You need to help your customers find you, and most importantly, understand why they need you.