the long tail market

the entrepreneurial dilemma

Many enterprises, including our own practice, started out with one product. Very often, we represent the technical proficiency of that product in an existing enterprise. We are driven, through circumstances, to the realisation that we could do a better job of bringing this product to market, while getting out from under a stifling job. Entrepreneurial independence is an attractive motivator, but soon, the seizure starts. Positioning in the market is crucial and if you are out of position, your product isn’t desirable or even “known” to your perfect prospect.

So, you decide to “freelance” your product into a captured client, (basically the same job you had before – but now you are paying yourself) and maybe you arrive at a point where you want more – expanding into new market segments anecdotally means extending the existing product, or adding new “different” product profile(s) in your fledgling enterprise. You’ve started to ride the growth life-cycle of a business, the complexity point has arrived and it’s time to make some serious decisions!

long tail market view

Some marketing exponents, view the market as an amorphous mass, hiding within the chaos is the perfect un-sub* for your product and company. They match your deliverable perfectly and are “able to refer” (references ~ the most powerful marketing is word-of-mouth) when they match your essence in a remarkable way.

the long tail market can be seen as a green "present view" of those that can be influenced and are naturally attracted to our product, and a yellow unknown market stretching to infinity populated by un-known suspects

The internet revolution has brought a new view to the market. You know the market for your product could be global, but in the past, due to time and space constraints you were limited to a select few prospects that you could reach. So, to extend your influence in “your” market, you had to look different – you had to differentiate your product or service to attract a new set of prospects – within that market! We’ve dealt with entrepreneurs that have a product portfolio of hundreds of products, many not selling at all (or even at a loss) with complexity that is killing the business. You just cant be “real” and “remarkable” representing a hugely diverse offering. (more lines in the dam does not always mean ~  more fish?)

the question?

  • Could we create the engagement and “emotional connection” in the human potential of our enterprise, to represent diverse sets of products to diverse customers, or, are we destined to remain in the green market?
  • How can we move to a global view and address the yellow market – what author Chris Anderson calls “the Long Tail?”
  • How can we remove the complexity and increase employee engagement when we address different customers so that we remain “remarkable?”

the SoD or System of Delivery

The evident answer was to create differentiated product to take up diverse positions in a chaotic market. An counterintuitive view would be to rather create focused front-end marketing and sales “tribal” teams supported by a generic back office. A respected core product, viewed by different prospects from different angles – a single diamond from different facets!

a stylised icon of the 7 business dynamics that must be in place to build a successful business

Based on work done at EMyth, we use this diagrammatic icon to represents the optimal delivery system that should be in place in a well run enterprise. The top half of the icon is led by the dynamic of Leadership which influences, creates and optimises the back office by “Being.” Branding, Finance and Management are in place for the complete enterprise. The bottom half, influenced by the character of Leadership represent the “Doing” of Engagement (logistics), Sales and Marketing.

Each “tribe” that you identify (A-E) have specific requirements, speak a language all of their own but can derive value from your System of Delivery – it’s just that they thought of you as belonging to a specific “niche” in a market far away (“if” they know of you). Now they are Marketed to, Sold to and Delivered to, in a specific and focused way – in a way that fits their essence. The differentiation of your Enterprise, Product or Service becomes “boutique.” Your prospects don’t find themselves in an uncaring Hyper Market but in a small store smelling of fresh bread and coffee as your focused tribal “Doing It” teams address their profiled known-subjects*!

the long tail market is populated by "tribal" groups that can use our expertise and company while using our core product in an unconventional way making it specific for their needs

Jeff Stephens in the podcast mentioned below, made a telling comment, “you can teach someone to count money but you can’t teach them to be nice and customer oriented!” This basic requirement of customer service, means that your tribal engagement teams are populated by competencies that match the target tribal group. That affinity with them counts more that technical expertise and sales competencies – these can be taught (nurture not nature) as we forcefully argued in our e-bookherding cats!

how practical is this idea?

The “back office” for a professional photography studio would support all the Leadership, Branding, Finance & Management for the enterprise, while the front end is populated by Delivery, Sales & Marketing aspects that may be vastly different, and behave and speak differently because of their targeted tribe. Our product is still the taking of photographs, but the skill, equipment, cost and delivery can be vastly differentiated.

the table which explains the value of the 3 principles of a product, Valuable, Teachable and Repeatable.

Our professional pride could drive us to be the most artistic photographer and produce beautiful wedding pictures, but to expand our market is to expand not the product, but to focus our “Doing it” attention on different prospect needs out there.

Look for a fuller exposure of this subject under the sub-heading What? on page 82 of the e-Bookherding cats"!

”This concept of;

  • Valuable (to the user), and to our organisation,
  • Teachable to the potential end user and your delivery team and
  • Repeatable, where the first sale of your product brings the next one

Is the basis of a successful product “positioning!” The scoring shows, that if we stuck to wedding photo’s we would be overlooking other, and more “valuable” (see total) uses of our core skill. It also allows us to focus on the weaker characteristics of the “deliverable” so that we can drive up the total score of the offering, making it more desirable for us and for our potential customers.

Correctly positioning tribal sales, marketing and delivery teams, lends itself to another enterprise value enhancing technique – the Franchise Model. One of the desirable characteristics of the Franchise Model is to populate your teams with the correct competencies while “the model will be operated by the lowest level of capable skill!” Taking wedding photographs requires a high level of skill and artistic flair, so the cost of delivery is high and difficult to teach to everyone (teachable). School photo’s on the other hand, are much easier to deliver by a technician who has empathy with the target but lower “scare and expensive skills!”

Excerpt From: Peter French ~ FREE eBook (current version). “herding cats.” page 66.

Inspired in part by the work of; Experiential Marketing and The Long Tail – Podcast December 30, 2015 by Cameron Madill & Jeff Stephens – Podcast

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Peter French

Business Coaching is not consulting, it's also not therapy. It's a unique profession that lives somewhere in between these two poles - structured to leave lasting life and business value!

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