Market to the Circumstance

I’m obviously a huge fan of Clay Christensen’s disruptive innovation theories and have written about them previously. In the Innovator’s Solution there is a quote,

“…just as (a company) needs to develop products for the circumstance and not the customer, the (company) needs to communicate to the circumstance, and not necessarily to the consumer.”
What he is saying here is that you shouldn’t be targeting customers of your product by segmenting them into demographics/geography. Rather, you should be targeting the job that your product gets done.

As an example, I made an angel investment into SketchDeck (where I was first a user before becoming an investor). Often times I need to create powerpoint presentations. Whether it’s for our own investors or as marketing materials, I simply don’t have the time to create and design something as good as a professional designer.
SketchDeck developed their on demand service for this very problem. When its 24 hours until I need to deliver a deck and I’m in a bind, I reach out to SketchDeck who can take my template and turn it into something exponentially better (and actually, I would be willing to pay them more money because I’m also buying into their service at a time where I’m getting emotional and stressed). Their product was built for this circumstance – helping non-designers save time and create better work – and they market to this circumstance; “We have a team of designers around the world ready to work on your project.”
The same applies to our portfolio company Datahug which helps large sales teams see who from their company know’s anyone at another company. They market to the circumstance by saying, “Want to see who you know at company x? Tired of chasing new leads and not being able to use LinkedIn for new sales? Use our product.” Instead of saying, “Dear salesforce manager and CRM owner – buy our software because you need to have the latest sales efficiency software for your salesforce.”
Founders that possess this sort of intense concentration on developing products for certain jobs and learning how to communicate it in such a manner are the ones who get from A to B much faster.
  • A disruptive innovator faces many problems and obstacles, so disruption in itself is not necessarily a defining asset. Perception is fact. We, for example, are a disruptive food technology and have the potential for explosive growth in a market pregnant with pent up demand. Healthy, Nutritious, Local Food! Being disruptive, among other things, means breaking with custom and tradition. It means you need to have your message clearly defined and your marketing strategy scaled and ready … the risks are that you break the ground, you take the technical, financial and other hits … and others take the lead away from you! you pay the price and they take the prize .. you suffer through the gestation and they walk away with your baby !