I was speaking with a product marketing manager recently who was excited about a new development in his organization. Keen to diversify their business, company executives had taken an existing product and tweaked it for an alternative market.
While he excitedly told me how they had cornered one market with their original innovative product (based on years of experience, development and relationships), he also let it slip that their hopes for success in their new vertical were largely based on assumptions.
If it works in Market A, and Market B appears to be very similar, it’s got to work in both markets — right?
If only it were as simple as that.
This might explain why their initial marketing efforts were drawing zero interest from their new target audience. They just weren’t connecting.
By failing to engage, new potential clients were essentially saying: “I’ve got 99 problems but your pitch solves none.”
Assuming different target audiences have the same business problems and speak the same (business) language is plain dangerous.
Yes, your product might potentially be very useful in several different markets, but if the solution you are offering is not 100% clear to your new audience because your product and/or marketing campaigns have not been carefully ported to their new environment, you’re going to hit a brick wall and fail pretty fast.
My suggestion for that manager was to stop everything and get some good advice from an expert in the company’s new target vertical.
Knowing (rather than assuming) that your product/service will solve very real problems for a target audience is a vital first step in developing a successful offering.
Simply showing an expert the existing product and asking how it could be adapted (if at all) to suit a new marketplace, what language could be changed to make the product and marketing connect with new potential customers, and above all, what problems it could solve (or be adapted to solve) would have saved many hours/days/weeks/months of work.
Remember: There isn’t a business or individual out there who doesn’t have a problem in need of solving. It is marketing’s job to highlight how a product or service can solve that particular problem for a potential client.
What’s Your Problem?
The problems your target audience face will vary depending on the nature of your business. A problem could be something simple like a fashion retailer helping someone chose what to wear on a Saturday night, or something much more complex like how a technology company can help a doctor become more efficient and help to save lives.
It’s also worth remembering that seemingly similar organizations (targeting different customers) will have very different problems. For example, the customers of a high-end fashion company will have very different problems than the customers of a high-end sports apparel company.
Beta Testing and Testimonials
Getting an expert on board as early as possible may also help you find beta testers who will help you test, prove and improve a solution (essentially helping them to solve more problems) before you (expensively) go to market. This will also help you compile case studies and testimonials prior to your public launch, helping you position yourself as a credible supplier in your new marketplace.
Don’t let your lack of understanding of your clients’ problems become a problem for your organization. The sales and marketing should always start by identifying a very real problem and attempting to solve it.
How are you solving your clients’ problems? Share your comments below:
This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.