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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Target Markets


My favorite user group has announced a change of direction. A user group is usually independent of a specific software, made up of enthusiasts, rather than company representatives. They provide a friendly forum for the company representatives.

The company feels they can get greater traction in the market appealing to wizzerd programmers instead of buyers. I’ve seen that a couple of times from inside a company. Usually it means a new market manager has a bigger quota.

Ten years ago I learned that when the new executive director wanted to change the name of a successful organization, she didn’t understand the mission, leading to rounds of rightsizing.

Yesterday, I was driving up US 95 through Virginia next to a truck I recognized. Fifteen years ago, one of my government customers had the third largest transaction website in the world...written entirely in COBOL. They published a monster catalog, like the old Sears big book...entirely in COBOL. These guys could do anything with my product.

Then some marketers in my organization figured out that what they had bought was worth more than they paid, so they instituted retroactive “value pricing.” Took my customer six months to rebuild their web empire in Microsoft. I lost the world’s greatest reference account.

Last month Ardell Fleeson gave a powerful talk at the Virginia Leadership Breakfast. What stuck with me was her observation that we divide our focus into two groups, “target markets” and “all others.” Did you ever look at how much business comes from “all others?”

The lesson I’m getting is to respect and aid everyone who has an interest. Mastery is having your finite resources satisfy the entire market, both who you think is your buyer and those who just buy.
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