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A friend introduced me to Organic Transit, a company based in Durham, North Carolina. They make a solar powered bicycle that has a closure surrounding it making it look like a mini-car. You pedal this device like a bicycle but the solar panel charges a battery and it can propel you like an electric bike. The bike/car is called ELF.
The problem for me is I can’t understand who is the target audience?
I think people who love bikes wouldn’t be interested. I think people who love to drive cars wouldn’t be interested. I don’t get who needs this solution.
Organic Transit is a Hybrid
Hybrids are difficult to market. You have to find a clear target audience and occasion to focus your energy. Perhaps this product is perfect for inner city delivery of pizza, flower, documents, etc. Or, maybe this is an ideal product for universities or resorts. Without a laser-like target, I think the product becomes difficult to sell. When it is so broad and opened ended – for everyone, it is for no one.
When a hybrid product solves a precise problem in a certain situation, that is all that company should concentrate its energy on in the first few years.
Think of Facebook. Zuckerberg focused on creating a way for college students to connect. He started with one college and eventually a few more. He wasn’t marketing his social media network everywhere, but he identified a need, developed a solution and focused, focused and focused.
Like kitchen utensils or gardening tools, a new product needs to solve a problem and do a job for you.
- I need to open a can – I pick a can opener
- I need to zest a lemon – I pick a zester tool
- I need to dig a small hole for a plant – I need a little shovel
- I need to water the flowers – I need a watering can.
- I need to trim the bushes – I need a hedge clipper.
Organic Transit has to answer this question – what job does a specific audience need to do that the ELF solves? Then they have to put all their resources into becoming experts in understanding the needs of that community and the story that they need to tell themselves and others about their experience.
The product is like a bike that also gives you the option like a small lightweight motorcycle to have some limited power. It can carry more things than a bike. It isn’t quite as flexible as a bike or mini-motorcycle might be in a city for maneuvering. This is a much cheaper alternative than a small car since it is priced around $6K but it is a “Flintstone type of car” where you still have to do the pedaling.
I see it like a healthy golf cart.
It is an interesting product and quite innovative. Now it needs a well-defined target. They need to avoid the problem the Segway ran into where it was a cool product, without a job. It slowly found its way into a focus for policing inside airports and at venues and events.
What job does your product do and are you crystal clear who is the target?
Do you have a product in search of an audience? I can help you with my magic marketing wand that is specially made for just this problem. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Organic Transit Screengrab