The Overview #1

New weekly roundup. This week: interview with me, the TAM Traction Treadmill, a question you should always ask, and persona no-no's.

Hi,

Today I’m introducing The Overview, a weekly roundup of noteworthy B2B SaaS stuff. You'll find interesting tweets and articles from around the internet, plus highlights from my personal swipe file.

You’ll get it straight in your inbox, every Friday morning, in addition to fresh tips and insights every Tuesday - click here to subscribe.

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Uncomfortably narrow (interview with me)

I metaphorically sat down with one of my best friends and my product marketing life partner Alicia Carney for her newsletter, Finding Customer Focus (make sure to subscribe!)

Listen to the 30 minute podcast as we talked through:

  • How my advertising degree impacts my product marketing work

  • Why we’re due a junior/senior product marketing skills gap soon

  • How we launched, failed, and grew Kayako to $2m ARR in 18 mos

  • What it’s like to get uncomfortably narrow with your Ideal Customer Profile (and how to do it)

The TAM Traction Treadmill

This tweet made me laugh because I’ve seen this happen, and know others in similar situations.

One mistake I think startups make is choosing a really broad initial Ideal Customer Profile - a whole industry, a segment without limits. Let’s revisit what an ICP is:

An ICP is a hypothetical representation of a best-fit customer for your business today. Let’s break it down:

  • Hypothetical - a method for testing and iteration, not a hard rule

  • Representation - a depiction, caricature that’s easily recognisable

  • Best-fit - objective assessment of the type of customers that you can market to, sell to, and support effectively

  • Today - that you can market/sell/support today (or in the very short-term)

An ICP is not the long-term market that you will capture - that’s your TAM. Total Addressable Market = a group of people/companies that have a similar problem that you can address with a replicable solution.

But you can’t build/sell/market to all of them straight away. You’ll choose an initial ICP - for example, SaaS businesses with a sales team but no inhouse designer. You’ll reduce the limits on your ICP as you gain traction and broaden to similar but adjacent prospects.

Zuora did this: started with media companies, then broadened to SaaS, manufacturing, and more.

“But how will you know?”

I bet you’ll recognize this struggle. You’ve spent a lot of energy fighting for something, a lot of money building something, or a lot of time making something happen.

And… it happens, but it’s not what you expected.

“How will we know if it’s working? is one question that should be asked more often.

Whether you’re building something from scratch (e.g. new positioning) or re-configuring your approach to something (e.g. sale process), make sure you’re identifying:

  • Leading indicators that can predicts a change

  • Lagging indicators that measure a change has happened

  • Qualitative indicators that can build a perception of performance

Persona no-no’s

Thinking of giving your personas names, genders, pets, and favorite vacation destinations? Just don’t!

Your base personas should detail:

  • Demographics - job titles, experience, buying group role, language/location

  • Firmographics - team, company criterias like industry, segments, etc

  • Psychographics - early adopter or laggard, key opinions, values, etc

  • Key jobs - common activities that they do as part of their day-to-day

  • Top 3 gains - the personal, professional, or business goals they want to achieve

  • Top 3 pains - marks of failure and frustrations they must avoid,

  • Likely triggers - their motivations to search for a way to solve their problem and switch away from their current solution

That’s the Overview for this week

Hope you found some interest in this first edition.

Help shape Building Momentum

Let me know what you’d like to see more of. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn, or just reply to this email!

Thanks for reading, and happy building,

James