Figuring out product-market fit gives companies a competitive advantage when used properly.
Why do some companies seem to flourish, while others flounder? What makes the winners special? How do they stand out from the rest of the pack? The answer is simpler than you think. Usually the special sauce is product-market fit. Companies who understand how to leverage this can own an industry.
What is product-market fit?
Product-market fit can be defined as "when a product fills a genuine, pressing consumer need or when a product that people don't need aligns with a market of people who don't know what to do with their money." The second definition is a little tongue-in-cheek, though both are accurate.
The ultimate goal for your company is to create excellent product-market fit. You want your product to fill an actual need, not just give something for people to buy because they have excess cash. Sell a product that consumers are actually asking for or don't yet know they need. Think of the iPhone in 2007, most people thought they didn't need a computer in their pocket, now most people can't live without their smartphone.
Product-market fit is just that. Your product fits the market. Like a round peg fitting into a round hole.
What happens if I don't fit?
As much as you might not want to admit it, your product could be missing the mark. If your product does not fill an actual need, then you are lacking product-market fit.
This typically happens when companies don't do adequate market research before a product launch. Often they end up trying to market to a new group of users, if the product is failing. Usually you want to tailor your product to your audience, not your audience to your product. If you need to find new people to buy your product, then you should revisit the original audience and make something they actually will buy. Your audience is usually loyal to you, don't disappoint them.
Grow with your audience needs
A huge mistake that many companies make is not growing with their audience. It does no good to tailor your product to your audience and achieve perfect product-market fit, if your audience then outgrows your product. Think of print film in the digital camera age or many newspapers failing to make the jump to an online subscription format.
New technology disrupts existing product-market fit relationships. When audience needs change, you need to adapt your product accordingly or else your audience will leave you behind.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.