Looking for our Sweet Spot
In an earlier blog I wrote about how we started with a product vision and over time, based on early customer input, that vision gets modified so that we end up triangulating more accurately with real market needs. While this sounds pretty obvious, in fact it’s not so easy. Sometimes the needs of one or two customers, while very real, may not add up to a market opportunity. For example, a local dairy might need a particular view of its production systems but if they are largely custom-built, we won’t be able to sell any resulting product to any other dairy. So it’s important to try to hit sweet spots: the product fills a need experienced by a lot of potential customers, at a price-point that makes it economically viable.
Often a sweet spot appears when an existing widely-adopted product has some limitation or shortcoming that is constraining its users. A small company can often step in, build something that addresses the problem, and then sell it to many or even most of the companies that are already using the widely-adopted product. If that market comprises thousands of companies then it’s definitely a sweet spot.
We’re trying to focus in on sweet spots as we talk to early prospective customers and think about how to enhance our core offering. And if we’re lucky we’ll actually be able to hit two sweet spots – enhancing two different widely-used products – with similar enhancements. Brightmetrics is all about pulling data from other systems and empowering it in special ways. Our initial goal was to add value to financial data pulled from systems like Quickbooks and Great Plains. We soon realized that we could use the same approach with other systems like Ticketmaster. If we can craft a general solution for one Ticketmaster customer, we can then market it to all Ticketmaster customers facing the same issue, which in this case is enhancing Ticketmaster’s reporting tools. This kind of sweet spot is pretty much ideal for a small company like us because it allows us to piggy-back off something customers have already invested in and from which they are seeking to maximize their value. This is a much easier sell than presenting a prospect with something entirely new.
The other kind of sweet spot is when you create an application that solves a particular problem. Both Quickbooks and Ticketmaster are applications in this sense. For a small company like us to be successful with an application, we need to focus tightly on a niche. This is because we have limited marketing and sales resources and have to ensure that everything we do is highly leveraged. If we were selling across multiple industries, each of which might have a particular emphasis, we’d burn too much time and cash before reaching break-even. But if we address a specialized niche, not only can we achieve a lot with modest resources but we can also benefit greatly from word-of-mouth within the marketplace. At Brightmetrics we’re presently working on several other markets that we’ll be talking about in the next few weeks.
We may find we don’t have the bandwidth to pursue all these markets simultaneously, in which case we’ll need to make a choice. But for now, there are several opportunities that have great upside and whichever way we go, we hope to provide these markets with valuable insight.
As always, I’d love to hear how you went about this process or your thoughts on being an early adopter. You can leave comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org