There’s a prevailing ethos that encourages technology companies to build and respond quickly… sometimes, too quickly, without a thorough understanding of the marketplace.

Managers at several technology companies use the phrase “ready, fire, aim” half-jokingly to describe this approach.

But it’s only half joking.

There’s also an element of pride as many of the highest-profile technology company successes of the last several decades embraced this approach, at least at the beginning of these companies’ lives. These successes include:

  • Facebook was launched as a fast, limited-scope project exclusive to Harvard students. It rapidly expanded to other universities and eventually to the public, allowing it to outpace competitors like MySpace and Friendster.
  • Twitter, an application developed during a hackathon, was built and launched quickly to evaluate the concept of microblogging. Its simplicity and real-time nature caught on rapidly, making it a major platform despite early scalability issues.
  • Airbnb which iterated rapidly beyond the firm’s initial concept of renting out air mattresses during conferences. The company pivoted to a broader short-term, peer-to-peer property rental model, which capitalized on the increasing demand for alternative lodging solutions.

Given these successes, why don’t all companies emphasize speed to market over strategy today?

The short answer is survival bias.

Nobody Does PR For Bankrupt Companies

Survival bias makes the “ready, fire, aim” successes highly visible. The many, many failures are nowhere to be found.

That’s because when companies succeed, even if they succeed through lucky feature set selection, good timing, or some other factor governed by chance, they are deemed exceptional and become case studies for success.

Failures, on the other hand, are invisible. Many firms that rush misfit products to market go out of business. Nobody knew they existed in the first place, so nobody studies their failures once they are gone.

Some exceptional companies that followed the “ready, fire, aim” approach succeeded despite not having a strategy. They have become so legendary that their stories are woven into the high-tech industry’s ethos. Those successes still persuade many founders to emulate their swift action without similar context or preparation.

That legacy has led several companies to chase incorrect customer segments, enter the wrong markets, or develop features that miss the mark—all because they are rushing to respond to perceived threats and opportunities without proper strategic grounding. The allure of quick wins obscures the need for a foundational strategy that aligns with the market’s actual demands and complexities.

Topline Strategy is a company with expertise in transforming this reactive approach into a strategic, systematic process. This process doesn’t sacrifice speed. However, it gives tech companies the confidence that they are going after the right customers in the right markets with the right messages.

What’s A Good Strategy?

An effective strategy includes a targeted market entry plan, which encompasses:

  • A prioritized list of your customer segments
  • Identified challenges and requirements for each segment
  • A definitive product development timeline
  • A deep understanding of your firm’s unique value proposition, tailored to counter competitors’ strengths and exploit their weaknesses

If you don’t deeply comprehend the segments you’re targeting, their needs, and how your offerings are superior to your competitors, your company is likely operating without a real strategy.

This strategic foundation is necessary to ensure that teams know which product features to develop, where to allocate marketing efforts, and how to effectively differentiate themselves from competitors in sales activities.

Establishing a solid strategy requires decisions based on concrete facts. Although it seems straightforward, it’s astonishing how often we observe clients forming strategies based on anecdotal evidence from sales feedback, the requests of a single, large client, executive briefings, and other informal channels.

Do You Need A Strategy?

Developing a sound strategy involves collecting primary market data on customers, recent losses, decisions to abstain, and potential clients in your sector.

Here are the warning signs that your company may not have a comprehensive strategy:

  1. Confusion about which products to develop and which projects to prioritize.
  2. Uncertainty within the sales team about how to effectively position against competitors.
  3. Constantly evolving and indistinct marketing messages.

At Topline Strategy, refining strategic development is our brand and our mission.

Topline has deep experience helping companies shore up their strategies quickly and cost-effectively, helping them identify and hit the right targets.

Interested in how Topline can support your business?

Click here to learn more.