"We say no to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number, so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose, so that we can deliver the best products in the world.”
Tim Cook, COO Apple
Recently I presented the results of a great project at a townhall meeting to all of the employees of a client. Interestingly enough, it felt like a déjà vu experience, because the tagline of the project – ‘focus, focus, focus’ – was remarkably consistent with some previous projects at other customers.
We see the belief, particularly in high-tech environments, that the more people that are aware of a product, the more will check it out and ultimately buy it. This would work fine if the product was suitable for everyone – and the company has a marketing budget big enough to reach everybody.
The trick to effective product marketing is to focus your efforts on the segments that are the best fit for your product and to say “no” to the others. You need to figure out and target the segments that have the strongest need for your product and the best understanding of the value you offer. By marketing ‘everything to everyone’, the risk is that the key prospects will never hear from you or when they do, they can’t recognize the great fit your product is for them because it appears to be built for ‘everyone’.
Here are four reasons why you should focus your marketing efforts on specific segments:
- Getting heard is easier in a small room than it is in a stadium – Small companies are at a disadvantage when it comes to visibility in a particular market. The broader that market is, the more resources it will take to be heard above the noise and the more you are going to be head-to-head with the big guys. By specifically targeting smaller markets with a compelling offering, you have the opportunity to become a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
- Word of mouth works best within communities – The best marketing is the marketing you do not have to pay for. So word of mouth is top of mind for all marketing efforts. You have the choice of a big impact in a focused community or close to no impact with the shotgun approach. Customer examples, references and referral programs are also more effective in these smaller communities. People can see that folks just like them (or companies just like them) are using the product in ways similar to how they might.
- Make sure that the same message reaches a prospect at least seven times – Research shows that the human mind needs seven (plus or minus two) presentations of information to know and remember it. So instead of coming up with many variations of the same message, try to spread a consistent message over as many channels as possible, even at the expense of it becoming boring to your creative team. So, to summarize, I’d suggest nailing down a powerful message and compelling key differentiators that you can believe in and repeat them again and again – see, I just made this point at least twice in this paragraph.
- Momentum builds on traction – Acquiring customers is hard work when nobody knows who you are. But after a while your efforts to position your offering and yourself will be successful and you will start to be known in a market. Then customers will begin to come to you rather than you having to always pay to get their attention. A nice effect of this critical mass and playing in a dedicated market is that momentum will accelerate once the tipping point has been reached, which again will be alot easier in a small market.
As I am writing this blog, I got some feedback from the client that I mentioned at the beginning – apparently the benefits of ‘focus, focus, focus’ are appearing. We had decided to focus the client’s messages on the benefits that the big competitors would never be able to achieve, like fast time-to-value and leveraging a customer’s existing investments. The result is, this client has been invited to three multi-million dollar pitches just by repeating the message and the key differentiators (at least seven times) to a big channel partner. The story of why this client matters has made its way through the ecosystem of the partner, and the client is now harvesting the fruits of ‘focus, focus. focus’.