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make a general product or target a market?

If you have a product that could be used by different
types of customers is it better to:
1. make a general product that tries to handled everything
2. make a general product in which you can load in flavors?
3. make a  specific product per market segment?
4. something else

The concern i have is in making something general people will have to think how to make use of it and deploy it. Making something specific to each market means other markets are being missed while the program could be used in those markets.  Making something specific should make it easier to sell into a segment.

Any thoughts on the best tact to take?

paraclese
Monday, September 08, 2003

I believe you will have better success targeting a specific market segment.  You can then broaded the product once you have established success.

If you go broad and fail to cover an entire market, your product will be reviewed as shallow, lacking and in need of further revisions _before_ being usable.  That can be a death blow to a small company.

Mike Gamerland
Monday, September 08, 2003

You should try to make it good for at least one specific use and market it as such.

pb
Monday, September 08, 2003

Market niche, market niche, market niche.

Unless you are Microsoft or General Motors of course.  Even those guys are starting to sweat it.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, September 08, 2003

But MS and GM do have a niche... Consumers that don't know any better!

!El gato es muy gordo!
Monday, September 08, 2003

I agree with Mike.  For details, read "Crossing the Chasm".

Scot
Monday, September 08, 2003

If you look at Microsoft, even they started out in a specific area and expanded to a broader market over time.

John Rosenberg
Monday, September 08, 2003

I plan on conquering the world.  Should I go at it all at once, or should I start with a small banana republic and work myself up from there?

Alyosha`
Monday, September 08, 2003

The book "The Inmates Are Running The Asylum" covers this subject. In brief, Cooper states that you should design your product for exactly one person, and do an exceptional job at pleasing that person. The more targeted your product is, the better a job it will do at generating loyal customers.

Rhys Keepence
Monday, September 08, 2003

I agree with all of the above.

View your first niche as a prototype.  Sell to that niche and learn from it.

Also, have you evaluated how BIG the niche market is?
It may be big enough to support your product/company alone.

One theory of marketing is that you should FULLY OCCUPY your niche, leaving no room for a competitor to get a foothold.  That's where a small company can beat the IBMs.

If you target a niche that is too SMALL for Microsoft, but plenty big for you, your SMALL SIZE becomes and ADVANTAGE.  I know. It's what my company did, quite by accident.

ALSO, there is a HUGE marketing advantage from the PERCEPTION that you CUSTOM MADE something for that market.  If you make database software just for dentists, they'll look more favorably on your product because you made it FOR THEM.

Entrepreneur
Monday, September 08, 2003

I will recommend the "2. make a general product in which you can load in flavors" way from experience.

It cuts down on developement time and there are many, many situations where a certain product used in a particular area/industry can be used as it with very minor tweaking for another situation.

But these type of development should use loose coupling type of design.
Just my 2cents...

suhu
Monday, September 08, 2003

Also, I would add that this depends on what your goals are for you company. If you are entering a market segment that is fairly specialized, your chance of getting purchased for a large dollar amount is reduced.

This is, of course, based entirely on the segment you are going into. The more specialized the market segment, the more likely that you will either have one conglomerate that owns most of the market share (who will purchase you) or dozens of tiny vendors fighting it out. The broader the market, the more likely it is that a large corporation like Microsoft will have dominated it. This is due to the predicted profitability of large markets. Microsoft simply doesn't notice small markets, but will buy their way into a significant market.

If you are planning on building your company into a large business without selling, I'd recommend you target a niche market that has not yet consolidated beyond 50% to one major vendor and then build from there. The more specialized you can make your market niche, the more likelihood you have of being given time to grow your company. You just have to make sure that the niche is big enough to support development and earn a profit.

Dustin Alexander
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Rifle or shotgun??

pump action baby!!

Seriously though, you want to go hunting and actually shoot something, rifle any day.

In short, I agree with the folk that say you should target the product to a niche.

Tapiwa
Thursday, September 11, 2003

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