Because of a twitter exchange, a CEO of a company sent me their website link and asked me to check it out. After a minute of arriving, I left. I couldn’t tell who it was for, I couldn’t even tell what it was. Rather than ignoring this email, I wrote back with some advice to the CEO — make it easy to know who you serve and why it matters.
It’s the easiest advice to give of course — know who you will serve and why you stand out. But each entrepreneur I know tries to skip this point. So let me just share that “we serve everyone who could possibly use xyz” is not a valid answer.
And, yet, you might ask… does it really matter? I mean, what if the product really does have scale across many segments and it’s agnostic to size of company? What if it is really the swiss-army knife an solves tons of problems? Then, can the company avoid segmentation or individual positioning? Really, isn’t it better to position towards a big space than a small space?
Well, that depends.
On whether you want to be seen, heard, understood for what you are. By anyone.
You see the more “swiss army knife” you are, the more your customer can question, “is it really for me?”, and walk away to find something more perfectly tailored for them. Segmentation and go-to-market is all about clarity. If you, the entrepreneur, are spreading resources/time/attention into places that aren’t perfect, you are doing the equivalent of throwing spagetti against the wall and hoping things (something, oh, just something) sticks.
What your new company needs, and your customers want is for you to be clear so you can aim well, and hit the goal by serving them perfectly. When your messaging seems all over the map, it means you really don’t know. (And you are actually asking or expecting customers to know for you — in other words, you are being demanding early on in a relationship where you have given nothing.)
Yes, segmentation matters. The difference of clarity means you can say no when you need to and yes when you need to… because you know who you are. Focus is why segmentation matters.
And segmentation matters because you are more precise. And if you don’t know exactly who you are serving, doesn’t that also mean you don’t know their real pain. More than likely, you are probably standing too far away to know and how can that prove compelling?
(And just remember, the swiss army knife was produced to serve the military who needed a pocket knife and some other tools with them at all times; they knew who they served and why.)