Every product owner must be able to answer these 3 questions about their product:
1. Why does it exist?
2. Who is it for?
3. How are you going to reach them?
These questions are critical to answer succinctly. Without a why, it’s difficult to tell people why they should buy your product. Without a who, it’s hard to find your ideal customer. Without how, you may never find traction in your market.
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, how do you figure it out? Let’s look at a couple examples.
I use Convertkit for my email marketing. It’s easy to use, and has a lot of advanced features like intelligent forms and customer segmenting, and automated drip email sequences.
Why does Convertkit exist? Because business owners want an easier way to do advanced email marketing, at an affordable price. MailChimp is too simple, and Infusionsoft is too complex. Convertkit found a sweet spot where they can help businesses do more advanced email marketing without paying more.
Who is Convertkit for? Well, it’s for everybody who has an email list, but that’s not a good marketing strategy. Instead, they target bloggers. Bloggers have email lists, they are easy to find, and they can tell other people about Convertkit if they like it.
How did they reach this audience? They tried a number of strategies, but the one that worked best for them was simply selling to each blogger one at a time. They targeted a niche, then found the larger blogs on Google. They contacted the bloggers in that niche with cold emails, and once they sold one person in that niche it was easier to sell the next one. They moved on to the next niche and did it all over again.
It’s important to know your why before you go on to who and how. Convertkit can target bloggers because they have a clear idea of why their product is better than MailChimp. They communicate that difference well, that’s why bloggers buy their product.
Let’s look at another example, the Easy Digital Downloads WordPress plugin.
Why does EDD exist? To make selling digital products in WordPress easy. At the time it was built, there wasn’t a better solution.
Who is it for? At first it was targeted at plugin developers, it now serves a much larger audience.
How did they reach plugin developers? By being a good plugin developer, and writing about it. Pippin Williamson, the author of EDD has a site where he writes tutorials for other developers. He became fairly well known for this, and attended live events like WordCamps as well.
EDD has been successful because they have a clear idea of who they can help and why. Do you have a clear idea of who you help and why? If you can’t communicate why your product exists, and you don’t know who to sell it to or how to reach them, you have a high chance of failure.
It’s important to know that the answer to these questions may change over time. It’s ok to start out by guessing your answers, then change them as you learn more from your customers. Convertkit didn’t know they would be targeting bloggers until they had tried other markets unsuccessfully. You may have the wrong answers right now, the important thing is to get feedback from paying customers, and adjust your strategy as you go.