Picking Your First Segment — need, speed and lead

“I have a billion dollar potential market and 1,000’s of potential segments — but where do I start?”

The temptation is to build something generic and see who responds the strongest. Typically this results in a loud and resounding ‘Meh’ because you’ve built something broad.

Much stronger is to have the guts to pick a starting segment and build something that they’d really, really, really, really,really, really,really, really want. Then at least you’ll know, rather than languishing in ‘who knows’ land.

Picking a segment can be scary because there is never real marketing data on it. There is some and you should look into it, but at best you’ll get to a short list.

So how do you pick your first segment?

  1. Need — do they really 10x (see above) want it? If they don’t, then you won’t even get them to pick up the phone, let alone allocate precious minutes of their life to try your new idea.
  2. Speed — do they need it now? Can they make a quick decision? Will they use it straight away? Will you know quickly if they actually get the value out of it? If sales cycle or usage cycle is too long, then you may die before you find out if they really wanted it. You want fast learning cycles and you should lean towards segments and customers that can be fast too.
  3. Lead — can you access them? Can you reach them? There is no point having a great customer who is moving fast that you can’t reach. You need to be able to put a proposition and a product in front of them. Can you call them, email them, tweet them or go knock on their door.

Again, don’t look for the perfect answer or 100% confidence. It’s not there. And don’t ‘throw it out there and see what comes back’ because most likely it will be weak and useless. Better to pick a segment, go for it and be wrong but at least be learning then to meander around in mediocrity.