Beachhead Target

Too many companies try to appeal to a broad base of customers and try to meet a large set of requirements. However, they end up diluting their product, their connection with the customer, and overstretching their own abilities. The results are rarely satisfactory. One of the great axioms of life is that you cannot be everything to everybody. Another good rule of thumb is the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of the value is created by 20% of the customers.

You must focus on those customers that really want your product and who you have the ability to serve exceptionally well. It means making choices, doing fewer things and keeping a sharp focus. It requires developing a beachhead target of customers that you will start with. You will live and die with them at this stage.

What then are some of the key characteristics of this beachhead group? In Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet suggests seven criteria, which we have paraphrased as follows:

1.    Can the target afford your product?

2.    Do they have a compelling reason to buy your product?

3.    Can you deliver the product to them through your channels?

4.    Can you deliver a complete product?

5.    Can you overcome any existing competition to deliver your product?

6.    Will this segment open doors to other segments?

7.    Is this target consistent with your passions and values?

This is a variation of the questions that you have already been thinking about. Now is a good time to look at these questions afresh and answer them.

Different kinds of people adopt new products at different times. There are people who are always trying new things (“early adopters”) and then there are people who are a century or two behind (“laggards”). The chart below, which appears in most marketing textbooks, gives you an idea of these different sets of people and their rate of adoption.

The “Beachhead” customers are most often found amongst the innovators and early adopters.

Developing a Persona

By now you have collected a lot of information about your target customer. In Disciplined Entrepreneurship the author suggests developing a “Persona” for your customer. Who is your customer as a person? Can you articulate a persona for this person given all the details that you have developed? Go further and develop a picture or a sketch of this person.

Sometimes this person might be on your team, especially if the product is a passion for one of you. At other times, it might be someone who you know well or a customer you have come across in the past. It can also be a composite picture of various people.

My guess is, that if you took “selfies” of yourself or a friend, many of you would be looking at the Chipotle and Apple personas.

Developing a Persona is a powerful tool. It will guide you in your decision-making, because now you will have a clear image of the customer you are trying to appeal to.

Have you developed the persona of your customer? What does he/she look like?

Verinder Syal, Author: Discover The Entrepreneur Within

Written by Verinder Syal
Verinder is the Principal at Thoughtful Simplicity, an award-winning teacher at Northwestern University, and the author of Discover The Entrepreneur Within.