Build your strategy around your minimum viable market

Business benefits

Find an area of specific opportunity for a targeted audience, and build your brand strategy around it.

Identify a population of highly engaged and profitable customers.

Categorize these customers based on lifetime value, the types of products they are interested in, and how much they spend each month.

Figure out what your select group of customers hate most about the market.

It is crucial to identify the one thing they hate about the market. The things they hate may manifest in the level of service they expect, product reliability, or the time they need to invest in usage.

Capture customer responses like emails and direct messages, and copy the exact words and phrases used to describe pain points.

When speaking with customers over the phone or through video chat, transcribe the conversation to extract maximum detail. Tools like descript, otter.ai, or rev.com can help with transcription.

Break the conversations into themes, noting how often each theme came up in discussions.

If a pain point is referenced multiple times during a single phone call, this is likely an acute example of a particularly detrimental challenge.

Select 3–5 themes that your customers referenced. Compare these against the solutions that your brand offers.

In some cases, you may already have an answer to these problems. In these cases, you may need to emphasize functionality and the types of issues this functionality solves. In other cases, you may need to partner with your product team to evolve a feature set and reposition your product.

Segment using demographic, firmographic, and geographic characteristics for frequently occurring themes.

These characteristics may represent specific messaging opportunities or create differentiated use cases among customers. Applying these characteristics is vital to developing radical differentiation while maintaining resonance.

Review how often pain points occur, the number of customers that encounter them, the themes that they represent, and the solutions your business can offer.

As your minimum viable market begins to manifest, make sure to consult your product and finance teams to validate your conclusions.

Look for red flags and issues that may prevent your radically differentiated strategy from finding success.

Answer questions like these to spot red flags:

  • Are you already the market leader for the needs your customers referenced?
  • Are there fewer than 10 or more than 200 direct competitors in the space?
  • Does the minimum viable market represent less revenue than you had projected?
  • Is it difficult to find customers with these exact issues?
  • Is it difficult to summarize the segment with a single sentence?
  • Are your customers fragmented or unwilling to speak to each other?

Find an audience segment that you can obsess over and are willing to dedicate mid- to long-term investment towards.