How mass marketing nurtures “better mousetrap syndrome” for early start-ups?

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” This quote attributed to the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson illustrates a common misconception in business.

The “better mousetrap fallacy” is the mistaken belief that a superior product will automatically generate customers, which would remove the need for doing anything else; including getting insights from the prospects about their challenges and aspirations.

The problem comes in the context of early start-ups where you are yet to figure out what product (though you may have some version of product ready) would work for your audience, you are still in the process of figuring that out.


Traditionally, marketing has been applied after the product is completed. The result is marketers are often forced to promote products that don’t resonate, that doesn’t really work. And the reason marketers didn’t contribute to product development was that they didn’t have any interest or the skills to do so.

So, what do you do?

Forget press releases or advertisements. Figure out something that’s never been done before and is specifically designed to leverage the strengths of your product.

Growth hacking recognizing this focuses on understanding the users and how they discover and adopt your products and prescribes that you can build features that help you acquire and retain more users, rather than just spending marketing dollars.

Growth hacking has marketing goals “driven by product instincts.” In other words, the moto is: don’t just try to market; try to build a product that is easy to market.

Mass marketing, most growth hackers will tell you, is pointless without a product-market fit. So instead of jumping the gun, tweak and re-tweak your idea and the approaches until you get there.


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