Marketing Strategy · Product management

What is the best way to find someone in marketing that can write a Market Requirements Doc?

James Bailey

June 27th, 2016

I have products and have done some market research.Boot-strapping everything myself. I'm at a point of needing some expert help. To get funding? Or use EquityCrowdfunding? And before I pay for the doc. How do I know that it is a good report laying out of a market and how to get there? And most important what is a price for this work?

Joel Williams Entrepreneur at EZBadge

June 27th, 2016

I am going through the same issue now.  As a techie, I am skeptical of marketing but recognize its importance. In addition to basic marketing skills I suggest looking for someone/company who:
1. already understands your particular market. Everyone is happy to take your money to study it. 
2. has actual connections & experience within the target market. My product is targeted to national non-profits. (Haven't found anyone yet.)
3. has actual connections with funding sources and is able to provide meaningful introductions
3. is able to provide a transition from marketing strategy to sales support focus when the time comes to execute. Not just hand you a plan and wish you luck.
4. is able to scale & pace of their services to your budget and schedule

Laura Wallendal Entrepreneur, Sales and Growth Strategist

June 27th, 2016

I do this type of work on a contract basis for startups and I'd be happy to discuss with you.  I've also worked with undergrad business students on market sizing and discovery when I didn't have time or resources to do it on my own for my startup. They do it for coursework (read: free as long as they are getting credit for the work). Depending on where you are located, there are likely university programs or clubs that connect startups with students.

Looks like in Cleveland there are some programs with Case Western:


weatherhead.case.edu/employers/classroom-collaboration - MBA Consulting Services (Depending on timeline - they are on a semester schedule).

You know it's a good report when sources are cited and parameters are clearly defined. Sometimes it takes a little finagling to discover market sizing and opportunity, but understanding exactly how the results were obtained will help you determine the validity of the data.

Josh Miller Startup-focused product manager, speaker, and serial entrepreneur. I only use my powers for good.

June 28th, 2016

I'd like to take a slightly different perspective and challenge you on the need for an MRD.

MRDs are great for known products with well-defined customers on established channels. I know very few startups that meet those criteria. Most of the time, we just have a bunch of hypotheses.

And to take an even further step back, the question any founder seeking capital needs to ask is "what do I need to prove to investors to get funding?" It's not usually that you bought a fancy MRD.

I'm a big proponent of "customer development" and the Lean Startup approach. If you're not familiar with it, the basic concept is that since startups sit in a pool of unknowns, before spending money developing a product and spending like crazy on sales and marketing (read: front-loading risk), founders should spend time developing customers: validating the problem, then the solution, then the business model - all the while building a pool of (hopefully paying) early adopters. At the end, you have customers, revenue, and a whole stack of validated (and invalidated!) hypotheses.

There is very little value in ideas. With billions of people on the planet, you are virtually assured that 10,000 other people have had your idea and a handful are entrepreneurs trying to get it done. The value isn't in the idea; it's in the execution - of the founders. And it can't be staffed out.

So I always tell my clients to prove that you can execute better than them. Hand your potential investors a list of validated hypotheses and a stack of eager customers just begging for you to take their money. And you can do all this at low risk, spending next-to-nothing, while simultaneously giving yourself a better chance at obtaining funding.

Perhaps none of this is new to you and I've just spouted a bunch of things you already know. But I'm still left with the same question I started with: are you sure you need an MRD at this stage?

Chris Gorges Managing Director, Infinia Group // Founder, Biddlist

June 27th, 2016

Use freelance platforms such as the following to get fair quotes from smart people. Current / recent MBAs are probably a good go-to as they aren't terribly expensive (yet) and they do this type of thing in class regularly.

MBA & Company (https://www.mbaco.com/)
Toptal (https://www.toptal.com/business)
Upwork (www.upwork.com)

If you have very pointed / specific questions, use something like Wonder (www.askwonder.com) for high-quality fast research.

SHARIQUE NISAR Aspiring Entrepreneur | Researcher | Analyst

June 28th, 2016

@Chris , its not about doubting an MBAs capabilities. Like @Chicke rightly pointed out, a coin has 2 sides but based on my experience, I thought may be an industry experienced candidate could be the best bet as basic nuances of marketing is somewhat already clear. One may end up spending less time and money if you are able to find the right resource.
Yes, my experience with interns are not that great for sure :) 

Parneet Gosal Senior Marketer & Product Head

June 28th, 2016

Hey James, I recently found myself with some time on my hands and would be happy to help you - either point you in the right direction or help myself, whatever makes sense. Here's my profile for some background. Cheers, Parneet

keith long I am a Harvard legal journalist.

June 29th, 2016

I would suggest a business research journalist who has experience working with C-suite level executives. Check out www.journalistoncall.com

Good luck

Chicke Fitzgerald

June 28th, 2016

I agree with Sharique.  I've had an MBA team work on a business plan in the past under my supervision and the work product would barely have had a passing grade, let alone help me get funding.  Interns?  Forget it. It would be a waste of your valuable time.

Start with completing a business plan canvas.  Even the best person won't be able to write a plan from a totally blank sheet of paper.

Find someone that is willing to believe in you and help you do the plan.  The person that writes the plan and does the model must be around for the fund raising, as they will know the plan even more intimately than you.  

Give them equity to stick around as your acting CMO and advisory board member.  I've done this a number of times (this is not an offer!) and 1-2% or deferred compensation until you get funding are both acceptable models.    

SHARIQUE NISAR Aspiring Entrepreneur | Researcher | Analyst

June 28th, 2016

Will interns, MBA grads be able to produce quality stuff? I doubt.
I think you should reach out to someone who has some experiences as to what your end intention are. May be a mid-tier company who are typically cost competitive can help.

Doug TS/SSBI Chief Operations Officer at TerraFrame

June 27th, 2016

Maybe you could go to a Product Management Meetup in your area to find someone that could do it for you for a good price. In my experience, the "how to get there" approach would be in the marketing plan not the MRD. In your case, the price would depend on how much information you provide vs. how much info your Product Management consultant would have to do.