Single Target Market- once again

B2B, differentiation, Marketing, messaging, Product Management, route to market, segmentation, single target market

This is such a major piece in any market plan that I  cannot lay enough emphasis on the topic. I have already written a lot of posts on just this one topic , but there’s so much at stake in your plan with just this one concept that its critical that you get this right.

Some would call this segmentation,  some would call it finding a niche.  Call it by whatever name,  the idea is to start in a minimum viable piece of the market, learn everything and then expand. Never ever try to address all segments at once.

You can segment by geography- so choose only one location to start, or you could look at a vertical industry to start with if you are in the B2B market.

One useful way to find the Single Target market is also by usage. Suppose you have a service and as an example say you decide to focus on New York City. But NYC has 9 million people. So you could then either break it down by identifying the neighborhood because different parts of NYC have different buyers in terms of paying capacity.

You could then go further down to see if your service is for first time users, or for emergency usage, or a a replacement service etc.

Once break it down to such granularity each interaction with a prospect becomes a learning and you can quickly understand and test different messaging, different media etc. so that you can quickly dominate the market.

If you are in anyway responsible for product management and going to launch a new product or service or in marketing in a similar situation first get clarity on this aspect.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Riding the elephant- you still need to market

B2B, Marketing, need, relationships, Riding the elephant, route to market, Symbiotic relationship

While I keep harping about the advantages of using my philosophy of riding the elephant. You need to be aware that, at the end of the day you need to keep your marketing principles in mind over there also.

I have written on some ofvthese points earlier also, but its important to identify the need of the elephant. The elephant has to see the benefits of giving you a ride.

This is a critical aspect, because if you try to tell the elephant about your capabilities to cut branches of trees, then the elephant may not be interested in you. On the other hand if you show the elephant that you can help him get bananas faster, it may become your friend and give you a ride. However some elephants may not be interested in bananas, so you may end up missing judging and spending time in convincing the wrong elephant.

Year before last, we invested a lot of time in building a solution on one of the biggest cloud service providers. We had a unique solution and we thought that the cloud service provider would take us along where they saw prospects. But inspite of spending more than a year we realized that the technology platform that we were working on was not a priority for them in India. So this elephant was not interested in the fact that we could help it get bananas faster, because it was not interested in eating bananas.

So whether you are going out on your own or you are using my philosophy of riding an elephant you still need to identify that one need in the market which you can address.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Product management concepts for a consumer company -2

B2B, differentiation, differentiation, ideal customer, Marketing, Positioning, route to market, segmentation, single target market

Product management is actually a much stronger discipline with consumer companies – both in the FMCG and White Goods space. What has happened with the e-commerce companies is that they have actually taken the whole consumer marketing concept to a different scale. Having said that, all the companies which are successful even in the e-commerce space, have followed the basics of marketing / product management to the core.

What started this series of posts was the fact that while these companies were burning massive cash, they were still enjoying heavy premiums when they get listed in the stock market. So is it that they are blindly burning cash or is there a method to the madness.

I highlighted some of the concepts in yesterday’s post. Today let’s look at other things like Single Target Market. Amazon today is a very big market place where they sell their own products as well as provide a platform for others to sell and take a commission on items sold. But Amazon only started by selling books initially. They did not try to get into selling everything at once. And they just sold books first in the Americas before expanding.

Look at another company Uber – they were only the ride hailing App. They did not get into the Uber Eats or the Uber Connect till they had taken a dominant position in that market. Similarly Zappos – which is now part of Amazon – was only into selling shoes.

Generally when I talk of concepts and give ideas for targeting the customers, building partnerships, I speak from the perspective of a small or mid-sized company which is wanting to get into the market. So some of the ideas are very specific.

However the same concepts at a different level are also applicable over the e-commerce space. So while Amazon is a big daddy in the retail products space, a small start-up in India “Nykaa” started with just selling cosmetics and related products to ladies. Today if you want even a French perfume in India, your first port (in this case App) of choice would be Nykaa. Its become such a big brand for the cosmetics and related categories. Similarly in the fashion space its “Myntra”. These companies segmented the market even within e-commerce and specialised in certain areas and have made a success out of it.

So principles of marketing and product management won’t change, what could change is the scale, the risk and the delivery mechanisms.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Product Management concepts for a consumer company

B2B, differentiation, ideal customer, Marketing, Product Management, Profitability, Risks, single target market

When you see the large venture capital backed companies burning cash month on month you wonder if the general concepts of Product Management / Marketing are valid, these days, for a consumer facing company.

There is one dynamic to keep in mind – the principles of Product Management / Marketing have not changed, what’s changed is the availability of money at extremely low rates – in most developed countries the interest rates are hovering at or less than 1% on bank deposit . In Japan just a few months back interest rates had actually gone negative.

If you keep this in mind where cost of money is so low, people are looking for ways to get a higher return on their investment so the propensity to take risk is higher. If the cost of money would be say at about 5% on bank deposits, then the propensity to put in risk capital would be different. That’s also one of the key reasons that the stock markets are at a record high even though countries have been facing lockdowns.

Now inspite of this these VC based companies are generally not stupid. The VCs do put in checks and balances to ensure their money does not sink.

So the burning of cash is part of a strategy to acquire customers. This would only succeed if the life time value of a customer is known. This principle is true for any kind of product or service you get into. If you know the life time value of a customer then you can actually buy customers because you know that if they are happy they will buy more often from you and also refer others to you.

The second is the convenience factor / inertia factor. Once you have given some customer a good service and they get used to the convenience of working with you, they will generally end up buying from you because the cost of getting another vendor is quite high. In case of B2B customers the number of processes to complete to get a new vendor empanelled are so large that procurement teams want to limit their vendors. In case of consumer products, its so difficult to understand another new “app” to order items. So you go ahead and order again on an “amazon” just because your card is already loaded and you can buy without hassle.

The other factor is critical volume . In the “app” based consumer companies the network effect plays a big role. So the larger the customers and vendors on a platform they feed into each other to create a positive snowball effect. Due to this in any market you cannot have more than two “amazon” or more than two “uber” kind of companies.

In B2B business also something similar happens with critical volume. If you look at it about 25-30 years back there were at least 5-6 prominent ERP vendors including SAP, Oracle Financials, MFG Pro etc. today there are only 2 primary companies in this arena. This is because based on the number of installations, the number of technical people needed goes up, so do salaries so more people train themselves to avail this opportunity. Slowly the availability of trained manpower becomes one of the key reasons to choose a product.

So in my opinion the principles of product management / marketing don’t change. The methods / platforms for delivering the product / service may change as technology changes. In my next few posts I will cover other principles like Single Target Market, Ideal Customer profile etc.

I would love to know if any of you thinks otherwise.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!