So you’ve got a great idea for an app. You identified a problem and developed a solution for it, and it works! So what now? One of the biggest hurdles many early startups have to face is user acquisition – how will you get users? And do it as cheaply as possible? Choosing the right target market is key to using startup cash wisely.

Put the User in Perspective

You know what your product does. But do you know why people use it? The users are the most important people in a SaaS or app businesses – right alongside the people who run them. In fact, early customers can help define the roadmap of the entire company.

Users are often the driving force behind a company’s success or failure. So it’s surprising how often companies forget to think about the user first – before new features, cost-cutting, or even marketing.

Do research on the kinds of people who might use your app – search for conversations about relevant topics on social media like Facebook Groups, Twitter, and Reddit. Ask your current customers questions directly (How did you hear about us? What kind of company do you work at? Was your customer service experience a good one?) and take the feedback in stride. Analyze your website traffic and user behavior overall – what can you learn about how people are using the product?

Target Market = Perfect User

Ideally you built a product with a few use cases and user personas in mind. Think hard about exactly what kind of person can use your product and why. The perfect user is someone who uses your product to its fullest potential. A perfectly aligned product marketing team uses the same personas the development team does.

There are infinite potential use cases when you’re building a product, but product roadmaps and the vision direct the priorities. There are specific groups of people who will use your product for very specific reasons – who are they and why are they using your product?

Thinking about these audiences and personas should drive your decisions about channels and messaging. Wherever possible, segment your audience by their unique needs and target new users with those specific problems.

Think Small, then Smaller

It’s tempting to try to target as many people as possible, but that’s counter-intuitive if you want your marketing to be as effective as possible. If you consider building a product, we know that different users have different use cases. A product that tries to cover too many use cases at once will likely be less valuable to each user than a product that covers a few use cases really well.

This trade-off works the same way in marketing. If you target too many audiences or try too many channels at once, you’ll do everything less well than you would have if you put most of your effort into a few things.

Pick an audience with a strong product-market fit: a type of person or company that has a glaringly obvious use case for the product. Start at B2B or B2C, then think smaller. Let’s say you’re targeting home buyers – can you specifically target first-timers, deal-searchers, or condo-seekers? Or maybe you have an inventory product for businesses – can you go after quick service restaurants (even smaller, in a certain location) or small creative businesses? All of these are examples of a potential target market.

In the pre-launch and early post-launch phases of a product, you should pick just a few target markets. As more users adopt the product and it continues to grow, targeting can expand based on the product vision and customer needs. Start small, and watch your audience learn and grow right next to your product.

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