Your old strategy for sales and marketing just won’t work. And neither will your next one, or the one after that. Sure they will work for a while, and then they won’t. What’s going on?
Buyers change as their own familiarity with a new innovation changes. Put differently, when a new idea is put to the market, it will appeal to a certain segment of the market. Then a different segment, then a different segment again. So, should your strategy for sales and marketing be based on the industries these segments operate in?
No, absolutely not. Then yes, then no, no and yes.
In this week’s blog, we’ll explain how to choose your target based on who is ready, and when.
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Your old strategy for sales and marketing just won’t work. And neither will the next one. And neither will the one after that. Well, sure they’ll work for a while and then they won’t. Why for a while and then not? Buyers change or put another way, when you introduce an innovation to the market, there’s a certain segment of the market that finds it really attractive. And then there’s a different segment who’s the next group to come along and a different segment who’s the next group after that to come along. So should our strategy for sales and marketing then really just be around finding which industries each of those segments are going to exist within? Well, no. Absolutely not. And then yes. And then not and then not and then yes. In this blog, I’ll show you how to determine the right target market for your product based on buyer maturity.
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We all know about technology adoption curves. The idea of an early adopter in the beginning and laggards in the end and the majority in the middle. That’s not news. In fact, 10th graders know about this concept. Despite that very basic understanding, we all get it wrong pretty often. What we often do is plot ourselves on the curve. It’s not about you as a seller. It’s about, where are your buyers? Is it largely full of early adopters or is it largely full of laggards? Or are there subtle variations between those two extremes? Where is your market, is the real question. Given that it’s about the buyer, our strategy for sales and marketing should reflect who the buyer is at any point in time. And in this blog, I’ll show you how to work out where your buyers are and, therefore, what your strategy should be.
Whenever there’s a new innovation in the market, there’s a small group of buyers willing to be first. Well, they’re willing to be first because they figure that if they take the risk and it pays off, there will be some return for having taken that risk. So what do they need? They need the opportunity to make a return. The next group of buyers are not motivated by that. They’re a slightly more pragmatic group and they’ll say to you, “I know that that other company adopted early but they always do and they make mistakes. I’m a little more conservative than that. I’m not late, but I’m not that early either. And what am I looking for? I want proof. I need to know that this is going to work.”
So the buyer in that stage of the maturity is actually after a different need. They’re after proof and it’s the group of buyers that you want to target who are looking for that proof. The next group of buyers really just want access. It’s kind of everybody. They just want to get access to the product because it’s been proven by that second group of buyers and the very early idea has been identified by the earliest group. So the third group just want access. And the next group, they just want to get the product the way that they want to get it and it’s kind of everybody. And finally, as the market starts to max out, we can wait for the laggards to come on board. But we could also slow the decline down by finding new uses and new users. What’s the effect of all of that on your strategy for sales and marketing? It’s quite simple. You need to know how mature your market is before you can determine who to target.
Shortly, I’ll show you how to do this in Funnel Plan, but before that I’m going to do two things. I’m going to share with you my conclusions and I’m going to invite you to receive other blogs like this. Let’s get to the conclusion first. In the early stage of any innovation cycle, you’re after the early adopters wherever they may be. She or he may be an oil company, a retailer, a bank. You just don’t know. So your strategy at this stage or your targeting strategy at this stage, is all around cherry-picking. You’re going very broadly but you’re looking for the early adopter from any sector. So it’s broad, but cherry-picked from the broad. And remember the next group, they want proof. The best way to give them proof is, if they find other people just like them buying this product or service.
So now you go from broad to micro-niche. So everybody in that micro-niche draws comfort from everybody else having adopted. Then you take a second niche and a third niche and a fourth niche and fifth niche and at some point it’s kind of silly to talk about your tenth niche because really, everybody’s buying it and that’s when you’re in the hyper-growth stage of any market. When everybody’s buying, it’s now a question of from whom? Who should you target at that stage? Well, it’s kind of everybody. But let’s take a look at the role, as that’s changed in those three stages. I’ll come to the main street of the most mature stage shortly, but let’s deal just with those first three.
The innovative buyer, you’re typically after the CEO or General Manager of the user division of the business. In the pragmatic stage, you’re after the pragmatist is going to be also a general manager. In the hyper-growth period of the market, or the tornado as Jeffery Moore, the author of this model, refers to, in the hyper-growth period of that market, then you’re really after the retailer. You target the channel. Whoever they are. You’re targeting the channel because the end user buyer is kind of everybody, so now you put your effort in targeting the channel. Main Street, when the market’s at its largest, sure it’s growing less but it’s still larger. It’s a nice market. Now you’re targeting the infrastructure buyer because this is the third or fourth go-round for most companies in the market and so they know how to buy this stuff.
You think about the roles that you’re targeting. You’ve gone from CEO of a – whoever/ wherever, to General Manager of a micro-niche, to targeting the channel for broad distribution and then you’re targeting the infrastructure buyer. That’s IT, finance, production, supply. Those sort of infrastructure groups. Very different group from a very broad part of the market. And then finally, when the market maxes out and you want to look for new users, it’s kind of rinse and repeat because in the new user segment, you need the early adopters and then you need the pragmatists and so on. So the cycle kind of repeats. And that’s who you should be targeting based on buyer maturity.
Well, if you enjoyed this blog then, likely, you’ll enjoy others. If you haven’t already, can I invite you to subscribe to receive this blog? Go to align.me/blog and either subscribe to the twice-a-week blog or, if you prefer, the once-a-month, which has a recap of all of the key blogs from the month. Frankly, what most people do is subscribe to both and you’re welcome to do that. Now if you prefer, you can also subscribe to the YouTube channel here and can consume these blogs in that way. Now if you have already but you’ve got a colleague that hasn’t, then now would be a great time to invite them and I’d be so grateful if you’d do that. Why don’t you do that now? Either subscribe or flick it along to a friend. Come back and I’ll show you how we do that in Funnel Plan.
The Funnel Plan allows you to describe your objectives, your strategy, the velocity and the tactics. And, of course, today we’re going to look at the strategy and, more particularly, we’re going to take a look at the target market that you’ve selected. We’re going to impact or make decisions around the role, the organization type, how much focus we give to each of them and how mature they are as a buyer. Let’s take a look at that within the Funnel Plan software. And the plan I’m after is a blogging video. Let’s go straight through to that. I’m after strategy and, in particular, we’re going to make decisions around the target market.
Now here are my three segments. Of course, I can add a new segment if I want. I might want to in this occasion. I can edit also any of these strategies. Now the business type is who is it that’s most impacted by the problem. We’ve already covered that. We’re looking now at the maturity. So we can now input where we think the buyer is in their maturity. Early market, that’s where the early adopters and risk-takers are. Bowling alley is our strategy for the early micro-niche when we’re looking for pragmatic buyers, broad pragmatic buyers, everybody.
Now the infrastructure buyer and, finally, towards end-of-life. The key points here are two. Firstly, choose how mature you think the market is but also take a look at, are you actually targeting the right role based on the maturity of the market? Second thing to take a look at is how much focus, how much of your emphasis, should you give to each market? Now the combination of the focus and the maturity ends up impacting where they sit on the maturity curve that I showed you earlier. If any of that needs reinforcing at any point, remember just to bring up the Help Centre. Hover on the label of the section that you want some input on and you’ll get some text help. You can scroll through the text help. But there’s also a copy of the video explaining how to think about each section. Make use of the Help Centre all the way through Funnel Plan.
And that’s it. We already chose last week the organization type and the role most impacted. What we’ve done today is to take a look at the maturity and how much of our focus to give each of those markets. In next week’s show, I’ll show you how to set your product strategy because the solution strategy changes just as materially as your targeting strategy changes, as the market matures. I’ll show you that next week but for now, may your funnel be full and always flowing.