Guide for Launching Your Next Big Idea

B2B, Community, & Branding

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

Guide for Launching Your Next Big Idea

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The "B2B, Community, & Branding" Lesson is part of the full, Guide for Launching Your Next Big Idea course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul spends some time discussing differentiation related to B2B and B2C audiences. B2B differentiation can happen across verticals, sizes, and regions. B2C differentiation may include a focus on interests, demographics, and regions. Building a community around a product and product branding is also discussed in this lesson.


Transcript from the "B2B, Community, & Branding" Lesson

>> I wanna say a little bit about differentiating for different audiences, if that's all right. There's the B2B audiences, and there's B2C audiences. So if you're targeting B2B, you, I think, probably wanna slightly different approach than if you're targeting two end consumers. It's very easy to think, I'm building a SaaS app, so I'm targeting end consumers, but oftentimes, that's not the case.

So B2B, there's kind of three ways of of differentiating via audience. You could differentiate with verticals, so can say, I'm going to build a product that targets a particular sector and is going to accommodate their particular needs. So for example, I am going to build a content management system that is designed specifically to meet the content needs of the higher education sector, right?

And a product exists that's like that. And so they managed to thrive in a world of big players like WordPress and Drupal, and stuff like that because they meet the very specific needs of that vertical, right? Another one is to differentiate based on size. So if your competitors are all focusing at the enterprise level of the market, trying to sell to the the IBMs and the Nike's and people like that, then you can focus on the SME side of the market or vice versa.

So you can differentiate with size, and then finally, you can differentiate via region. Focus on a specific country or a specific region to accommodate their unique situation, whether that be legal, whether it be language, whatever. Now with B2C, it's slightly different, but not dissimilar. So if you wanna differentiate from your competitors in a B2C market, business-to-consumer, then you might wanna consider focusing on different interests.

So you might be creating a app that allows you to organize information, right, a notion style app. And while notion has gone very broad and have gone to everybody, you could say, well, I'm gonna build an information organization app just aimed at people that play fantasy football, right?

Or do something, various other interests. So you can kind of segment via the interest groups, and either hone in while your competitors go broad, you go niche, or while they focus on one interest group, you focus on another interest group. And then there's demographics. If a competitor focuses on a particular age group or a particular level of education, you can focus elsewhere.

So there, they might be focusing on the youth market, you might focus on the over 50s market, which by the way, is the coolest market, right? I just wanna say that. Gen X? Yeah, the Gen X market, we're the people you should be focusing on, nobody loves us.

And then the third again, you could do regions, that's the other way of doing it there. So she can differentiate via audience. And actually, audience is the way that I most like to differentiate because I like to niche down. And a kind of related way to that is you can differentiate through community as well, and that kinda goes hand in hand with audience as well.

I find community building a really good way of differentiating from competitors, cuz a lot of competitors, in my experience, treat their customers like cash counts. They're just numbers that generate income. And the really successful businesses are ones that try to build a sense of community. And, I'm sorry, I keep coming back to Frontend Masters cuz it's obviously a common example that we all share, is a great example of this.

They're very good at engaging with their community, they've got discord channels, they've got blogs, they've got podcasts. There's a lot more than just their core offering that exists to build a sense of community. They provide great support, which is a critical part of any community building. And they're listening to their customers, they're getting feedback the whole time.

But also, you can build community in other ways as well. And this doesn't apply so much to Frontend Masters, but you can allow people to create things using your platform, using your thing, whether it be create templates or plugins or build their own web apps on your thing.

Which is the kind of opposite of what we were talking about earlier, and when we were talking about building on other people's platforms, you can actually encourage people to make use of your platform and theirs, as well. And then you can also build community, and again, Frontend Masters is a great example of this one, through thought leadership.

I hate that term was so, such a passion, but I couldn't think of another one that was better. Yeah, by basically providing advice and articles and teaching people, which is what Frontend Masters is all about, right? So there are lots of ways to build community. I mean, a great example of this is Figma actually, that Figma ticks most of those boxes.

I don't think its customer support is amazing, it's a write in it, but it's not incredible. But the other two areas, they do very well, so they've got this whole community area where people can create plugins, where they can create templates. There's a lot of sharing of material that goes on there.

There's also a lot of learning material around Figma. It provides a lot of thought leadership, that kind of stuff. But customer support is a great way of differentiating itself. And there's loads of ways you can do that, offering 24/7 support. And you might think, well, that's too much for me to do of my lonesome, but it is possible to, there are services that will provide that kind of thing if you feel you're gonna differentiate in that way.

Responding fast makes a huge difference, just getting back to people quickly. Personalizing it, have you ever written to a customer support and you get the result back, and it's like you haven't listen to what I've said, you've just sent me a canned response. It's the most annoying thing in the world.

There's multi channel, being able to contact people through whatever channel you prefer. And then there's community driven support where the community supports itself. Publishing your roadmap of what you're planning to do next is a great way of engaging with your community and showing support to your customers. And then offering self-service support through help documents, knowledge base, et cetera.

You can also differentiate through flexibility. So allowing people to customize your app in a way that the competition doesn't allow from what it outputs to the user interface. Opening up APIs where people can basically build whatever they want on your app. If your competition aren't doing that very well, that could be a way of differentiating.

Offering a plugin into architecture can sometimes be appropriate, as well as ways of differentiating. And you can differentiate with branding as well. I know as an audience that's primarily developers, you might poo poo that a little bit and think that that's all just icing on the cake and prettiness.

But branding is not more than just the kind of pretty interface side of things and the colors and stuff you choose. It's also your value of proposition, right? How you explain your app and the benefits that it provides that sets it apart from the competitors. It's the tone of voice that you use.

While your competitors might be super formal and enterprise, and you could be chatty and humorous, right, or vice versa. You can pick a different tone of voice and you can also use a different design language. Where maybe everybody else is really formal and stuffy and you can come in as something that's more casual and more approachable, yeah, go for it.

I was just thinking about liquid death is water? [LAUGH] Yeah. It's just water, it's liquid death and it's looks like you're drinking a beer or something, but it's just water. Yeah. And somehow like a billion dollar company or something. And we have some, I think, in the fridge, whatever.

Yeah, but I mean, that's a very extreme example of that. But you can do a more middle example, I mean, I used to love Mailchimp. They've lost a lot of it now, but they really knew how to tailor their voice and their tone to their audience and differentiate all themselves from all the other competitors in the market, which were all kinda very staid and corporate and they had this much more younger funky tone.

But it was a tone that adapt based on how people were feeling and what was going on in the app. And they had little design delighters like when they sent an email, you had a little kind of high five to you. And you know that if you repeatedly clicked on that high five, if you high-fived it back with your cursor, the hand would slowly go red?

[LAUGH] It's just brilliant. So yeah, those kinds of things add personality and connect in a way that maybe more staid competitors aren't gonna. And before you say, there are some people that will be sitting there going, well, I kinda wanna aim at a corporate market, right? Just because you're aiming at a corporate market doesn't mean you have to be boring, right?

Because ultimately, every person that works in that corporation is a human being. They laugh at fart jokes just the same as everybody else, right? And the thing that I always say is if the CIA was able to add humor into their Twitter stream, then your corporate application can.

The very first tweet that CIA ever published was, we can neither confirm nor deny this is our Twitter channel. [LAUGH] Brilliant, right? And that's the CIA, so you can always use humor. You can always add personality, you can always be a human being. I work with people in really large enterprise customers and I'm like this the whole time.

Sometimes people don't like me, but people don't like me in real life as well, so it's nothing to do with the corporate environment. So you do all of this market research and I wanna say it, right? And I'm gonna keep saying it and it does sound a bit negative, but it's okay to get to the end of that and walk away, right?

It's okay to say no this isn't a valid idea, and it's hard to do that if it's been your baby that you've got excited about, but you'll have another baby that you get excited about. So just to wrap up this kind of market segment part of it, basically, take the time to broadly define your niche before you even begin.

Otherwise, you're gonna have no kind of structured work with him. Find the competitors in the niche, review those competitors so you really understand them, and then use that to identify gaps and ways to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

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