Learn how to create products that people love

‘Hit and hope’ or niche?


A response to a post on OpenCoffee London: “Just curious when startups go to market do they follow the ‘build a beach head’ approach and target a niche OR hit and hope, and why?’

I’m amazed that anyone would take the ‘hit and hope’ approach, particularly if you’re throwing ad spend behind it.

Call it lean or just common sense but we always advocate doing customer discovery before even writing a line of code. There’s a big difference between market and user research and this is where the problem often lies. Big market numbers can be compelling but you need to find one passionate customer first, then another and so on. It’s about finding a niche that feels the pain the most, is accessible and open to a solution to solve their problem/need.

We work with lots of early-stage startups and none of them uses Adwords. Admittedly none of them are in the e-commerce/B2C space but even so they prefer to focus their budget on making the product/service great and really getting a deep understanding of their audience & their needs. Then once they’ve found product-market fit/significant traction they can start to think about scaling to a wider audience.
We all know…
  • Facebook started at Harvard.
  • Amazon started selling books.
  • Twitter started with the tech community at SXSW.
Just because you start with a niche, it doesn’t mean you can’t scale later. But unless you have a passionate first audience it makes it hard to get a larger customer base without throwing money at it. And having early evangelists has the added benefit of them telling their friends/family/colleagues about your product (word of mouth is cheaper and more effective than an Adword lead).
Also how do you create a meaningful value proposition if you don’t know who your customers are? The more you try to appeal to everyone, the more you appeal to no-one.
If you need help turning your startup idea into a successful web product, visit www.spookstudio.com or contact me via Twitter @welovelean. I offer a free 20 minute sanity check for startup founders to share and discuss their ideas in confidence via Skype.

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