28 August 2008

Define your market bigger

I read & commented on a really solid blog by my friend Brooks, titled "Innovate, Iterate or Obliterate"

However, as I read it again, there's one more comment I would add...and place it in the "food for thought" category, and it goes back to a discussion from early this year on Fred Wilson's blog about Web 2.0 companies being built for and marketed to the extremely narrow realm of early adopters and evangelists.

I feel that any company, in any market place needs evangelists and adopters, but I would caution that having them does not, a true market adoption make. I understand the Gladwell "Tipping Point" perspective to this, but I would also say that a product should be designed to fit a much wider market. Folks like you and I are familiar with many of the Web 2 companies, blogs that cover them and the VC firms that finance them, but are early web-adopters indicative of market success? It's an extremely fickle community and a very tall, insulated silo as well. I saw one straw poll conducted by a VC that found that most "US Americans" (to quote Ms Teen South Carolina) have never heard of Digg, Last.fm, and Twitter...let alone smaller competitors and verticals meant for those communities.

When Jack Welch took a team of his VP's and Directors to the Army War College once to discuss business and leadership, the long-held mantra at GE of being "#1 or #2 in your field, or sell it or fix it if it's not", was shot-down by these aspiring-Generals because they felt that the nature of the execs was to cleverly define their field and competition (marketplace) smaller and smaller so as to fit that #1 or #2 criteria. Instead, in a growth initiative, they were challenged to define their field (competition) wide enough so that they were #4 or #5 (or worse) and look for the growth opportunities therein. It's out of this thinking that GE Aircraft Services, GE Energy Services and numerous GE Capital operations were berthed.

Total genius if you ask me...what do you think?