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

What Product Managers Can Learn from the Apple iPod

The Story When Apple unveiled its iPod digital music player back in October 2001, I dismissed it as a  parity product . I already owned the Cowon iAUDIO CW100 MP3 player, loaded with my favorite tunes. There was Apple, generating great hype over the iPod as if it were a breakthrough product. The idea of a portable digital music player was nothing new. The first mass-produced MP3 players came out in 1998. In late 2001, the concept may have been new to a lot of Apple customers, but it wasn't new to me. I proudly showed my MP3 player to friends when they gushed about the iPod. Thus Apple's iPod was not an innovative product in and of itself. Years later, however, I realized the significance of ecosystem of which the iPod was a part. Apple had released iTunes (with technology purchased from  SoundJam MP ) and created the iTunes Store for finding and downloading music. Unlike Napster , it was a safe and legal way of distributing and acquiring music. The prior way of playing

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