Skip to main content

Buyer Tension

Many technology companies attempt to sell their products to two different kinds of buyers. For example, I once worked for a company that sold their products to both IT and managers of semiconductor factories.

Unfortunately, you undermine your marketing efforts when buyer tension exists. Buyer tension is when the messaging that resonates positively with one type of buyer antagonizes another type of buyer.

In the case of the company I mentioned above, the messages that were effective in marketing and selling to factory managers antagonized IT personnel. The reason was that, within the customer's organization, the IT personnel were currently providing their own custom solution to the factory manager. The most compelling message for the factory manager was to replace the custom solutions the IT personnel were providing with an out-of-the-box, easy-to-configure solution.

Thus marketing and selling to the factory manager antagonized the IT personnel, because it threatened not only their custom solution, but in some cases their jobs. So the product marketers tried to straddle both IT personnel and factory managers with the positioning of the product, thereby pleasing no one. The product developers were particularly displeased, because the straddle muddled the requirements for the product.

When buyer tension exists, it's a good indication that you lack sufficient focus. You need to pick one type of buyer and orient your product and messaging around that type of buyer.


Michael said…
Have you read Chapman's In Search of Stupidity? He mentioned stuff like this as one of his major themes. I'd be interested to hear your take on his post mortums.

Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Interaction Design: the Neglected Skill

Your product development organization has a big, gaping hole in it. (Be prepared to feel defensive as you continue reading.) One of the most important roles in product development is the role of interaction designer. An interaction designer designs how the users will interact with the product and conceptualize the tasks they perform. He decides whether, for example, the user interface will be command driven, object oriented (clicking on objects then specifying what to do with them), or wizard based. The interaction designer decides the individual steps in the use cases. Every company has one or more people that play the interaction designer role. Usually, those people have little or no expertise in interaction design. Sadly, they typically don't even realize how unqualified they are. Let's see who typically plays the role at companies. Engineer . An engineer is an expert on building what is designed. Yes, an engineer may know how to design the internal structure of the hardware

Stop Validating and Start Falsifying

The product management and startup worlds are buzzing about the importance of "validation". In this entry, I'll explain how this idea originated and why it's leading organizations astray. Why Validate? In lean startup circles, you constantly hear about "validated learning" and "validating" product ideas: The assumption is that you have a great product idea and seek validation from customers before expending vast resources to build and bring it to market. Indeed, it makes sense to transcend conventional approaches to making product decisions . Intuition, sales anecdotes, feature requests from customers, backward industry thinking, and spreadsheets don't form the basis for sound product decisions. Incorporating lean startup concepts , and a more scientific approach to learning markets, is undoubtedly a sounder approach. Moreover, in larger organizations, sometimes further in the product life-cycle, everyone seems to have an opinio