Finding a problem to solve. What’s the customer’s pain?
If I said to a person, “Hey, would you pay $500 for me to teach you about mathematics?”
They’d go, “Sounds boring. I flunked math.”
“How about $100 to keep you from getting audited by the IRS for reporting your income wrong?”
“Oh, yeah, I’ll pay 100 bucks to avoid that. You bet, man. That’s a super pain.”
Their anxiety level is high. They’re saying, “I need a shortcut. Somehow, I got to get on top of this problem right away.”
It’s perceived pain.
Pain is instant marketing. That turns up the pressure. Those are unrealized opportunities.
Defining good objectives for your business.
Business objectives should be good. But they should be specific, and they should be measurable. As we define what the objectives are, we ask, “How do we measure goodness? How do we measure progress? How do we measure the return on investment?”
We limit the audience size. We don’t want a mass-market but rather a niche market. We want to do a skimming strategy. For example, looking at the USA American accountants, there are about 1.3 million accountants and tax preparers in the United States. That’s huge.
Selling business-to-business products is where the best money is. Not consumer markets. Dangerous for bootstrapped startups with few resources. So, 1.3 million is too big. We ask, “What’s a narrower segment of that market?”
Finding a Narrower Segment
So, let’s say out of the 1.3 million there are 90,000 accounting companies.
That is a far more manageable number.
So, how do we tap into that market?
For example, at one company we did a project for, Kraft was one of their clients. Kraft had offices everywhere. They were a huge, big company. But for us, that only counted as one entity. And our goal was to penetrate the top 100 entities.
When we did the math, we found the product was in 50 percent of the Top 10 Food companies. That gave us bragging rights – a credibility booster. Half the top 100 companies were already on board with our product.
With this approach, other companies began saying, “Why aren’t we using that cool product? They must know something we don’t. We better check that out.” They wanted to get on the bandwagon and join an elite group. Instant credibility.
We don’t want to target specific companies, because that becomes account management. And that’s a lot of babysitting. We do want to talk in the language of these admired companies. The little guys want to imitate the big guys. And so, when we get an endorsement, we add them to our “friend list.” When they see their competitor on the list, “Why don’t we have this product?” It creates peer pressure.
We want to measure how much we capture. How many entities do we get into? So, with 90,000, it’s realistic to capture about 10 percent. We’re saying 9,000 entities are the goal over the life of the product we introduce. But we’re going to focus even more.
Throughout this process, this is what you can expect things to look like.
As we grow the product, we track the product life cycle.
We make projections of how sales may grow over time. There are lots of different ways to sell on the web. But it takes time. Google has to find you. People have to find you. They gradually link to you. That takes time and patience. It’s not uncommon in the first year to make hardly any money, or maybe none. In the second year is when you start to see it coming in. And then the third year is when finally things may take off.
We don’t want you to change into somebody different. We want to make your business and personality preference match to be the most successful.
A story within our story: Why focus on women? We saw this strategy first work well with a doctor. He sold laboratory testing online. But he didn’t want to work with men. He said, “I want this site to appeal to women. I do not want it to appeal to men.”
Puzzled, we asked, “Why?” He said, “Men are too argumentative. I tell them what they need to do, and they want to argue with me. When I tell a woman what to do, she says, ‘That makes sense. I’m going to go do it.'”
Women were a much more pleasant market to work with. And a bonus, it specializes our product and makes it unique.
Over the life of a product, innovators and early adopters come on board first.
If we say, “Well, we’re going for 90,000 entities.” 9,000 of them would be the early adopters. That’s the first phase. Can we get early adopters in the first phase? Can we make 9,000 sales in the first year?”
People go, “Oh, look, the early adopters are having success. Let’s mimic them.” As it starts to reach a peak, it becomes more mainstream, accepted. Then you get the early majority. And how long does it last? It could be a year. It could be 3 years. It could be 5 years. It could be a week! When you introduce a product, the new life cycle has a predictable curve.
We track the rate of sales.
If we had big sales in the first month, we’re on the fast track. We can estimate how long the product life cycle by the rate of change.
Everybody thinks, “Entrepreneurs are risk-takers.”
That is not true. Good entrepreneurs are risk-averse. Why? Because they have limited resources. They can’t make a $50,000 mistake and joke about it.
So, entrepreneurs aren’t big risk-takers. They don’t have deep pockets like big companies. We need a sure win. How can we reduce risk with limited resources and win? Well, one of the things is incremental thinking. That’s where you rent a rowboat before you buy a yacht. We don’t want a perfect product. We want a minimum viable product. MVP is a minimum viable product.
What is an indication that we have a winning idea? Then what do we need to change to improve? Does the digital product solve the market problem?
So how does this start?
Exploration and mining your existing content.
The new product emerges from existing content. We multiply your brain and your process. Then we make that into a digital machine.
Remember, we want to sell a product, not the source. We’re not saying, “Okay, do you want to buy the site owner or the site?”
No, I don’t want to buy you. I want to solve the problem. I want to buy a solution.
Buy and selling a digital product feels painless. We don’t want you to do service calls and answering phones. “My download didn’t work!” We don’t want that. No babysitting.
Some markets change all the time. You have to stay on top of it. At regular intervals, we update the product or add an addendum to make sure it’s current. That’s unavoidable babysitting, we can’t get away from it. That’s the nature of the world today. Rapid change.
Do you suppose you wasted your life developing your precious content?
In the first year of PagePipe blog, we made no money. How many guys keep going on an idea God told them to pursue – for a year – and then go into the second year. You’re limping along, but making little money. Well, a little is encouraging. But it still isn’t good enough.
You return to your first experience and say, “No, that decision felt right. It was good. And I’ll stick with it.” A deep connecting experience carries you through. A lot of people don’t have that. It’s a great emotional asset. It inspires.
We discover unrealized opportunities: Hidden assets you’re not aware of. Real value.
Because our perspective is different, we see hidden assets. We find an opportunity, a golden nugget. We hope you’ll pursue it. That’s the next step.
We create a digital strategy for your online business. How good is good enough? We define that. We’ll keep it real. But at the same time, be ambitious. We push ourselves.
niche market strategist
lead project manager