Saturation Silliness

“Our market is mature, and is saturated. We have to steal customers from our competitors.”

There are some absurd technology marketing truisms, chief of which is that anything is so static that a market won’t and cannot be changed. Resting on the notion that there is only one recourse to growing a customer base means certain cerebral sediment has set — that market leaders don’t. When your market is saturated, you should think about changing the market or at very least adapting to changes in and connected to your market.

starbucks_saturationFirst, no market is ever saturated. New companies come to life every day. A start-up limping along on open source and big dreams will be tomorrow’s Twitter and will need products they cannot afford to buy today. Freemium models work well in markets where long-term customer nurturing can be guided and automated. More mature companies occasionally switch technologies tied to yours, and thus create opportunities for you. There’s a customer born every minute (wait, that doesn’t sound good).

Technology users expand their operational base and augment what forms of technology they use. When a competitor’s customer upgrades their DBMS to support virtual storage, do you offer tools that provide value in the clustered environment? If you do and your competitors do not, then their customer has shifted to a new product category in which you provide value. The market may be saturated, but some products are designed to be more equal than others by anticipating changing customer needs.

Business is always evolving, and thus customer needs tied to changing business directions create new customers. Five years ago the concept of private clouds was vague, whereas today it is part of the IT linga franca. Adapting products to meet changing business trends moves a product along to new customers (those leapfrogging in technology implementation) or those who are following trends as they solidify. Same market, same customers, new needs.

Yes, in mature and saturated markets you need to steal customers from competitors. But how you steal them, how you create them, and how to find new ones is possibly more valuable than expensive toe-to-toe sales battles and prying unwilling people from their preferred technology.


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