A Market "Pentest"

Philip Morgan

1) Interview at least 10 people in in the potential target market.

Look for problems that you can solve with your skills. Stop interviewing people when you detect strong patterns (you know what someone is going to say before they say it).If it takes 50 interviews to see these patterns, then do 50 interviews. If nobody you reach out to will agree to be interviewed, ask them why. If you just can’t make any progress with the interviews, pick a different target market.The “nuclear option” here is to pick a market and a painful, urgent, costly problem you guess that they suffer from.

2) Of the patterns of problem/pain you see from your interviews, pick one that you could see yourself focusing on solving for 3 to 5 years.

This problem is the “big neon sign” over the online “door” to your business. In the rest of this article, I’ll refer to this problem as your Neon Sign Problem. Ideally this problem will be one that enough people in your market feel, one that they feel an urgent desire to solve, and one they have the budget to pay for a solution to.As you are choosing one problem to focus on, remember that this specific problem is not what you will spend 100% of your time focused on. You’ll spend about 50% of your work time marketing and selling your services, about 30% of your time doing other stuff, and about 20% of your time actually solving this problem, so don’t worry that your life will become monotonous just because you’ve picked a single problem to focus on. It won’t. :)Keep in mind that you will get hired to do other stuff. Just like you don’t hit the bullseye every time you throw a dart at a dartboard, you’ll get hired to do stuff outside your specialization. And also remember, this is just a test that you can discontinue at any time with no negative consequences. We are not making a significant change to your business here unless this “pentest” has a positive result and even then you can decide not to change anything.

3) Write three short articles.

Short means less than 1,000 words. It’s OK if they run longer than 1k words, but try to keep them short and succinct. Do whatever research you need to to write these articles. Here are the 3 topics you must write about:

  1. Article #1: The common solutions to your Neon Sign Problem. What are the solutions? What are the benefits and cost of each solution?
  2. Article #2: Describe the drawbacks to each of the common solutions from Article #1. What are the “gochas” (the unexpected flaws or problems) with these common solutions?
  3. Article #3: Describe the benefits, cost, and limitations of hiring you to solve the Neon Sign Problem. How long does it take for you to solve it? How does hiring you avoid some of the “gochas” described in Article 2? At the end of this article, offer a free 30-minute diagnostic session where you help the person reading the article decide on the right solution to their problem. Promise that you won’t try to sell them anything, you’ll just ask them some questions and offer 30m of advice about how they could solve the Neon Sign Problem.

4) Set up Articles 1 - 3 in an email autoresponder Campaign using Drip’s free tier (or your existing email marketing software if you prefer that).

Set Article 1 to send immediately, and Articles 2 & 3 to send at 1-day intervals. Add 2 more emails that send at 5 day intervals. In these 2 additional emails, remind people about your free 30m diagnostic session offer and ask them to hit REPLY if they have questions or click on a Calendly link to schedule a diagnostic.

5) Create a landing page opt-in to the Campaign you set up in Step 4 above.

Use this as a guideline: http://1pageleadgen.site/lead-magnet-landing-page/ (don’t copy it word for word of course, just use it as a rough guideline)Don’t spend any more money than you need to on this landing page. Consider using a landing page builder like leadpages, launchrock, or instapage (other options here: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/best-landing-page-service/)

6) Write a cold outreach email using the following template:

Hi [name],Do you [briefly describe the Neon Sign Problem]?[sign off with your name and physical address]PS: Learn how to [solve the Neon Sign Problem] in 3 days: [link to the landing page you created in Step 5 above]

Let’s assume your Neon Sign Problem is: Daycare facilities don’t know how many children to expect and often overpay their staff because they can’t schedule the right number of employees per day. Here’s the cold outreach email you might write:

Hi [name],Does your daycare spend too much on staffing because you don’t know how many clients will show up on any given day?[sign off with your name and physical address]PS: Learn how to cut daycare staffing costs in 3 days: [link to the landing page you created in Step 5 above]

Sign up for a free rebump.cc account. Their default followup sequence is actually not bad, so just use that.

7) Cold email at least 100 people in the market you are investigating using the cold email from Step 6 and Rebump for followup.

Build the list any way you can. LinkedIn, Google research, and getsteward.com are all good options. List-building kind of sucks, so the $100 or so you would spend for Getsteward to build it for you could be a great investment. Just make sure you have clear instructions for Getsteward about the kind of company you want to find and the job role of the person you want to email at that company.Use either a blank subject line or the name of the company you are emailing as the subject line.

8) Assess!

Most responses to cold email will happen on emails 2, 3, and 4. It’s quite common to get no responses at all to the first email, so don’t let that worry you.Signs that you have a potentially viable market:

  • People sign up for your email course
  • People reply to your cold emails with curiosity (even if they seem a bit guarded or ask why you want to know, their response is a positive signal)
  • People book 30m diagnostic calls with you

Signs that you might have the wrong market, the wrong Neon Sign Problem, or both:

  • People ignore you

An attractive market is one that you can get a response from with a janky, minimalistic, thrown-together marketing campaign like this one. It’s possible to sell to other kinds of markets, but why play the game on hard mode?Do this “pentest” to discover if your combination of market and Neon Sign Problem are going to mean you are playing the game on easy mode. :)