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If you Target Everyone you Target no one

Almost everything I do revolves around product both in my day-job as Product Manager at LearnDash and in my numerous side hustles. 

One thing that often comes up in the consulting space is product market fit and I’ve had some good conversations lately on how to target and how targeting makes the difference between having product market fit and not having product market fit.

See at LearnDash we have numerous customer types we build for, that means from time-to-time we may change the core focus of what we’re building to target a specific type for a marketing push and to improve the product for that type but we don’t randomly add features for the sake of adding features. 

That’s because when you target everyone, you target no-one. 

You might be reading this thinking, well isn’t that more of a marketing problem? And to some extent you’d be right. 

Yet you’re also wrong. Because marketing can’t market what doesn’t make sense. If you’re putting together feature after feature for the sake of it without a plan for the why then you’re quickly building something unmarketable. 

There’s always the stereotype of a founder who builds an amazing product (or so they think) but they either don’t market it or don’t have market fit as they never tested it. 

Build it and they will come, doesn’t exist anymore. It hasn’t for a long time. You have to have a solid product and solid marketing. 

Product + Marketing 

At StellarWP we’re lucky enough to have some of the best minds in marketing, and I’m lucky to get to work with them often! 

You should check some of them out on Twitter, Hazel, Karmen, and James

Without marketing, we wouldn’t make sales. Without development we wouldn’t have things to market.

It’s a mutual-work system, and the best part is bouncing ideas off each other. Marketing has product ideas, product has marketing ideas. Working together you get to build the best product possible. 

When those teams work in silos you end up with a disconnect, you might still have a success on your hands but less of a success than if you worked together. 

Targeting — Product Market Fit

We’ve touched on it already but targeting is crucial. I recently had a consulting conversation in the WordPress plugin space and the business is targeting small businesses (local bakery, independent shops), medium size business, enterprise scale businesses and everyone in-between. 

But when you do that it’s difficult to build features, a product for enterprise is very different to a product for independent shops. 

You make it difficult to market, who do you pitch it to and how? Someone in enterprise may have a buyer that understands technical details, a small independent shop likely doesn’t. 

And then you have the final issue that support, sales and all other aspects of the business are different. Different service level agreements, different expectations and different demands of the product. 

All that for the same money. And that’s common in WordPress and in my opinion one of the core issues for growing businesses. 

If someone uses your product and they turn over $100 million and have tens of thousands of people using it or it forms a critical part of their infrastructure, they pay the same $100 as the person that doesn’t even turn anything over yet and are trying to build a business. 

They pay the same as someone who has a small business that never sends a support ticket versus the enterprise customer that might send 20 tickets a year. 

So when you get to the very core, you muddy the water if you target everyone. You make it difficult for each of the buyers to make a purchasing decision. You make marketing’s job more difficult trying to sell to everyone and you hurt your bottom line by costing yourselves more in support, and other resources. 

Next time you’re building, step back and think first about your target markets, then research what those audiences need, then plan a feature, then talk to marketing, then start building. You’ll thank me later. 🙂

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