We cut our teeth on marketing simple, affordable but wildly feature-rich digital signage to the masses. That remains our core focus. We’re dedicated to that market segment and we hope it never changes. In our view, it is where the majority of revenues in this industry are to be had. It’s also where you get more support calls, hand-holding and overall lack of sophistication. In the end, there’s a price to be paid for targeting the lower-end of the market, but if you do it right, you can win and win big, something which we’re seeing time and again. Our mainstream target audience gives us the feedback we need/love to hear–whether solicited, unsolicited, friendly and not-so-much. It’s been in that contiguous cycle that we’ve learned what works, what doesn’t and ultimate we’ve had the chance to listen and provide products that our customers love and are more than happy to sacrifice $3/day to have them.
At some point, the struggle becomes “where do we find more growth?” It’s not like we’re not growing. We’re steadily adding new free and enterprise accounts daily. But once you reach a critical mass–a certain size–the incremental growth looks less substantial percentage-wise. It’s the ultimate conundrum of growth. If you view it as a percentage, you’ll almost never be able to beat last quarter or last year once you get of a certain size (unless of course you’re Amazon and you jump crazily into nearly ever market imaginable). We also like to keep a keen eye on the type of growth we’re pursuing. I’ll paint a striking picture.
A good friend of mine started work at Amazon Fresh nearly four years ago. His first director was focused solely on growth at all costs, trying to amass market share in the Seattle market for home delivered grocery services. This director’s tactics were misaligned with upper management, however and he was moved to a different division in the company within a few short months. Bezos’ entire focus on the Amazon Fresh service was to subsidize it, make it profitable and extremely efficient until the service could be replicated in other cities. I suspect before long their team of trucks, vans and even drones may completely circumvent the need for UPS, Fedex and USPS altogether, giving Amazon its own private, very powerful and profitable delivery service.
The point behind the story: growth at all costs is foolish, especially if further growth depends on reinvested profits. Our focus is managed growth. Like I eluded to before, we’re also not Amazon, we’re not intent on piling all of our profits back into areas we think are going to grow. We’re more traditional in that way, we like to stay very focused on our market.
Staying too focused can lead to missed growth opportunities, however. That’s why we’ve really begun simultaneously focusing on the lower and upper ends of the market and everything in between.
Differences in targeting and segmentation…
I really like the example of disruptive innovation of the mini mills that didn’t play in the same arena as the larger steel companies, so they were virtually ignored, but once they started moving up market, and the larger players’ cost structures didn’t make sense, the mini mills were all that was left when the steel industry dust settled. We’re doing the same by moving up market in an industry that is too top heavy when it comes to costs. In my humble opinion, it’s easier to move up, than to work down. Selling on the down side is easier, but getting critical mass is very hard unless your strategy is extremely focused.
Selling enterprise software to the mainstream is easier for a number of reasons. First, the price point is much lower, dashing any preconceived barrier to entry. We’ve kept 90% of the features free which certainly helps on the uptick for adding such users. In addition, mainstream users are typically looking for a quick fix. They’re not–in almost all instances–as concerned about your D&B stats or corporate credit rating. In fact, the only times I’ve been asked for anything similar, was when we were courting Fortune 500-types.
It’s the mediaHYBRID user growth that we would like to see happen at a more rapid pace. It’s beginning to occur, especially as we’ve become more focused on direct selling to much larger accounts who want the privacy of self-hosted server combined with the flexibility of Amazon’s cloud. We’ve had to listen to these users as well, learning what makes them tick, what they’re looking for and how we can alleviate any fears that we won’t be around to service them in five years. Let it also be known that in no way are we moving away from the mainstream. It will remain a mainstay of the business, while we attempt to grow our market share at home and abroad for the bigger fish in the digital signage ecosystem.