Finding Your Own Sweet Spot in the Market
Friday, June 08, 2007
Are you in the camp that is counting down to the release of Apple’s iPhone, or in the camp that doesn’t have June 29 marked on your calendar as a day that will go down in history? (That’s the release date, for those in the latter category.)
I’ll probably hang onto my free-with-plan Nokia handset for a while, but I’m watching with interest as this potentially game-changing gadget comes on the market. Any businessperson can identify with the anxiety Apple’s competitors in the handset market are feeling.
But a recent New York Times article quoted a competitor who make a good point about the “media-centric” iPhone: “It will hit one sweet spot, but not necessarily all of the sweet spots — we hope.” I’d tell you who he was, but he was only identified as “a director at a handset competitor who declined to be identified, saying that his company did not want to elicit comparisons with the iPhone.”
How smart, and by that I mean both what he said and his disinclination to be pigeonholed as an iPhone competitor. He gets that some potential customers want what the iPhone has to offer, but others see the value their cell phones deliver differently, and that his company should focus on what its own customers want – its own sweet spot. If his employer is truly wise, it will keep on top of how its customers define the value they seek in a very straightforward way: by asking them.
Our own Promise Phelon tells about a similar situation a recent Inc.com article. Chasing after the imagined sweet spot of innovation led one company down an expensive and unprofitable path, because its customers were after a different sweet spot of quick, predicable value. They didn’t know, because they didn’t ask.
So what’s your sweet spot? Are you letting your competitors define it, or your customers?
Whitney Wood, Senior Consultant