Focusing the scope

The default of aiming at the mass-market (for growth and share) will make you average, because mass means broad, it means middle of the road, it requires you to be all things to all stakeholders. Satisfying the masses leads to generalisation and consolidation—it forces compromise. Aim here instead: with the minimum marketable product. What’s the minimum change you can deliver to your stakeholder to make the effort worthwhile?

If you could only change seventy-four people, or eleven thousand people, you’d want to be smart about which people you choose. And if you were constrained by resources, you’d focus your energy on utility for that customer.

When Zappos started up in 1999, its founder Nick Swinmurn, had the notion that people wanted to buy shoes online (even though they wouldn’t be able to try them on). But which somebodies and which shoes and which sizes? Nick’s plan was to go to local shops and take pictures to post online. Think sixteen pairs of shoes. And if you can only delight sixteen people, the best place to start is by focusing on the sixteen people who want what you’re offering. Focus on the people most open to hearing your story. Focus on the people that will help to shape utility. Focus on the people who will spread the word… The magic of Zappos wasn’t the website experience (it was simply a list of shoes with photographs and descriptions) or the fulfilment process (when someone bought a pair, Nick went to the store, purchased them, shipped them, and handled payments himself). No, the magic was in the courage it took to carefully curate the customers and create utility from there.

Choose the people to change, choose your future. Because the minimum marketable product is the focus that, ironically, leads to market growth and share.