The MDSC (market development strategy checklist)— providing strategic direction for startup go-to-market programs

The market development strategy is a declaration of intent that provides the strategic direction for a startup’s go-to-market programs (that is, sales strategy, marketing communications, product strategy). The strategy is expressed using the market development strategy checklist (MDSC). The MDSC is a set of assumptions (blueprint) around which a strategy statement is created.

Using the MDSC in your go-to-market programs

The MDSC works like a checklist. You must identify the first element on the list before moving on to the second element, and so on. Each element in the MDSC is based on preceding assumptions—modifying assumptions about one element will affect assumptions about subsequent elements. Although elements will change as your product category enters different stages of the technology adoption life cycle (TALC), the MDSC remains valid in each stage.

Elements of the MDSC

  • The target customer (for example, economic buyer, technical buyer, end user) is the starting point—the source of money. It influences all subsequent elements of the strategy statement.
  • The compelling reason to buy (CRTB) explains the buyer motivation (customer pain)—the source of demand.
  • The whole product helps you to meet the demand by addressing the customer’s motivation (that is, solving the customer’s pain).
  • Partners and allies may be required to provide those parts of the whole product that you cannot provide yourself.
  • The design of the distribution channels is a function of both the solution and marketing complexity of delivering the whole product.
  • Determining the pricing and revenue model is a function of the target customer’s perceived value of using the product.
  • Both reference and economic competition must be considered when analyzing potential competition for the target customer’s budget.
  • Positioning must establish your product as more attractive than the competition’s in the eyes of the target customer.
  • The next target (that is, the next target customer) can be described according to geographies, user profiles or profitability. However, keep in mind that the next target is always your company’s next move as it relates to your product category’s place on the TALC:
    • Early Market = next visionary customer
    • Chasm = first niche segment
    • Bowling Alley = next niche segment that builds upon efforts in whole product development and/or customer references