Product-market fit is the difference between an impression and engagement. The goal of any brand, marketer, or PR pro is to transform eyes into buys.
So, for example, while finding a platform with a massive viewership may be positive in the way of conversion potential, discovering an outlet with a more targeted following is the key to monetizing social influence.
“Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” — Marc Andreessen
When we talk about product-market fit, it’s not just this ever elusive mix of favorable market conditions and the right audience. Product-market fit is the result of in-depth research, planning, implementation, testing and review. The best team with the best product will fail if demand isn’t there.
Moving from Consideration to Convinced
When you outline a consumer demographic and try to match their interests, values, and motivations to something that is a ‘perceived’ need, you stoke the embers of sales. After all, marketing is creating demand and sales is fulfilling that demand. That’s why you can go from an idea, feeling or opinion about something—especially one formed without conscious thought or on the basis of little evidence—to attracting someone’s interest or attention as to establish a meaningful connection.
That’s what takes you value proposition from “under consideration” to “convinced”. The most powerful motivator has been and still is word of mouth (WOM). That’s what every digital brand is jockeying for: mental real estate that compels someone to share.
It’s about being top of mind, not just for the initial transaction, but for the repeat purchase and even more importantly, the credible recommendation. Here’s a look at three ways to get there:
Investigate the target.
First, you have to investigate your target consumer. What’s relevant to their life, either in every day or special circumstances or occasions? Do they need to see the product “in action”, a demonstration of fit or function? Do they need to be educated about it? Should you generate reports and testimonials? Do they discriminate solely on visual presentation?
Then you have to identify opportunities for your product. Who are the market leaders? Are you differentiating? Are there improvements in design that can make it more saleable? What about the packaging? Is the color all wrong? Or is the box itself cumbersome? Pros and cons lists, focus groups, and market research will all help tremendously.
Invest in outcomes.
Lastly you have to invest: time, energy, financial resources. Great ideas often give the impression that they just exploded from nowhere. However, if you study business, you’ll see a pattern: obsessive tinkering and testing, a road of failure and retooling approaches until something has that “it just took off” look.
Product-market fit has a lot to do with your senses, what you see, hear, and feel about the direction your particular industry is heading. This allows you to develop a paradigm for how customers will evolve, what they want to consume and how your brand can scratch that proverbial itch (many times even before they feel it). Product-market fit presents the opportunity to forecast and act instead of constantly adjusting. Pursue it relentlessly. As Marc Andreessen asserts, it’s “the only thing that matters”.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Thierry Augustin is a digital brand strategist based in New York City. He helps growing business strengthen their brand and target their audience to be more effective in the online marketplace. Connect with @taugustin_ on Twitter.