All companies want to reach the widest number of customers within their target market or at least, over time they do.
In the pursuit of sales revenue, often under pressure, we target as many companies and people as possible. Everyone becomes an opportunity. Your colleagues will even send you “leads” including random names and “contacts” that came into their head in a well-meaning effort to support lead generation.
When we try to engage with everyone, we fail to make an impact with just enough people. We impress no one. The choice is between many-people-and-see-what-happens and fewer-people-bigger-impact.
The latter has been called the Minimum Viable Audience (MVA) approach – the smallest market that can sustain you. It can produce 5, 10, 20, 50 customers, but it’s the number you need to start to scale and to provide repeatability and predictability in forecasts and sales revenue . It makes a lot of sense, but is much harder to do than the broad-scale alternative.
Attracting the Minimum Viable Audience
The minimum audience you need to survive, is attracted by a particular “story”, or more accurately, how you position the story. One very effective way to do that is to provide context. Your opening is less likely to start as ” we do this …” and more likely to sound something like “by way of background, here’s what normally happens … here’s what progressive customers are doing … here are the much better outcomes.” Gradually, small but just enough people start to raise their hand and count themselves in.
By the way, you may still need to talk to a lot of people, but you are no longer burdened with trying to sell to them all; instead, you are testing to see who will raise their hand. This is more a “testing” than a selling approach. The selling skill is about qualification and opportunity creation, not pitching and telling. Your positioning is such that the minimum viable audience, self-identifies, because they see the strategic value you bring.Hence, it’s no ordinary skill and not for the order-taking salesperson.
When we try to engage with everyone, we fail to make an impact with just enough people.
Minimum Viable Audiences tend to be attracted by big claims, not small brags. They respond to ambitious selling. That’s the sales takeaway. You need to be clear about the investment the customer will have to make and the value that their investment will deliver. An MVA sale is usually quite short in terms of sales cycle because the “sweet spot” customers instantly recognise themselves in your story and will count themselves in. Your minimum viable audience gets value just from your positioning approach.
Minimum Viable Audiences tend to be attracted by big claims, not small brags. They respond to ambitious selling. That’s the sales takeaway.
The Role of Marketing
Marketing is supposed to generate “leads” but that’s not what marketing is really good at. It’s much better suited to creating an audience – the minimum viable audience. In early-stage and growth companies, that’s what marketing should be doing all the time. They should be creating messaging that gets small numbers of people to raise their hand.
Your minimum viable audience gets value just from your positioning approach.