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Product-Market Fit for Information Publishers
Marc Andreessen, the Web icon widely regarded as the driving force behind the creation of the Worldwide Web, is also credited with creating the concept of Product/Market Fit (PMF). In his own words, PMF means “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” That does make perfect sense, doesn’t it? The products that sell are the ones that scratch a customer’s itch. And the single worst marketing decision you can make is to try and sell a product that no one wants.
And yet this is the case for many information publishers. They go to market with the products they have and not the ones their target prospects want or need. They do their best by implementing proven marketing and promotion strategies, but often fall short. Then they wonder what they have done wrong.
Ironically, it really does not take very much to achieve PMF. There are only three important steps. Miss just one, however, and you risk ruining your PMF.
How to Achieve PMF
Understand the current and future needs of your prospects and customers. This, I would say, is the most crucial step. Without a definite understanding of what your targets need, your information publishing venture becomes nothing more than a guessing game. You need to find a real-world problem that your targets want to fix. Find the itch they want to scratch, in other words.
Find a way to solve the problem using the information you have. If you can offer a unique way to address the problem, something that’s never or rarely been done before, there is a greater chance that your approach will stand out among other solutions to the problem. This is where the previous step helps you immensely. The more you understand the needs, nuances and operating environment of your target prospects, the better-fitting your solutions will be.
Build Credibility. This may seem like an after-thought but for information publishers it is no less important than the previous two stages. You need to establish relationships with your prospects and build your reputation as a trustworthy and competent resource in the industry or subject matter way before you try to sell them anything. This takes consistent output of high quality and original content, coupled with persistent online promotion. And it takes time. But the benefits will be worth it, because the more trust you can cultivate with your prospects, the better the chances that your solutions will be accepted and patronized.
A Moving Target
In a perfect world this probably would be enough and you should be on your way to marketing success. But it’s not a perfect world, and the market never sits still. Market preferences could shift at any moment and render your hard-earned PMF obsolete in an instant. Your product needs to keep up with these changes to remain relevant in the eyes of your customers. If you try to push for growth by targeting new market segments, then it becomes imperative that you review your PMF and adjust accordingly, either by updating the product to keep up with the times, or by introducing new products that are a better fit for specific segments.