Two kinds of markets. Which is yours?

I have a friend named Chuck who’s writing a book.

His target audience for this is software developers who are looking to land their very first job.

When we discussed the project, I told Chuck that this seems like an EXCELLENT market to be getting into — but there’s a caveat.

The reason I know there’s a market for this book is that 8 years ago I would have killed to get my hands on it myself.

I got into software development as a second career (copywriting is my third or forth, depending how you count).

I was 28 when I started learning to code, and while there were plenty of resources about web development and programming, I never stumbled across any books on how you actually get hired.

Most jobs require 3–5 years of experience.

Companies want to hire a senior software developer so they don’t have to spend the next year changing your diapers and wiping strained peas off your chin.

Not only that, but I was competing against younger developers with comp sci degrees and zero family responsibilities.

I ended up ping-ponging around from temp contract to temp contract for 2 years before I finally landed my first full time job.

And it was really touch and go there for a while. There were days where I literally walked up to the door of the building where I was working and as I swiped my badge to unlock the door I’d wonder if the little light would flash red instead of green.

Sorry, Mr. Temp, your contract has expired.

So yeah, there is a LOT of pain here. And Chuck’s book can really help people in the position I was in.

Now here’s the caveat I gave him…
 
There are basically two types of markets you can sell to.

There’s the “passing parade” and the “stocked pond.”

This is a classic example of a “passing parade” market.

Because how many times will someone need to get their FIRST programming job?

Exactly.

The tricky thing about passing parade markets is you have to catch people at just the right time — and they’re only going to have this need once.

Then there’s the “stocked pond.”

In this type of market, you have people with an ongoing need.

It could be a chronic health issue.

Or a business problem that never goes away (like marketing, or the need to be more productive).

Given the choice, I’d always prefer to sell in a stocked pond market.

You have more time to develop a relationship, because you’re not racing against a ticking clock to make the sale.

And you can get repeat sales, which is always where the most profits are.

My advice to Chuck was:

Look for ways to reroute this parade so it leads straight into a corral.

Spend some time mapping out what you’ll offer these customers in the future so you can continue your relationship with them even after they’ve landed that first job.

Maybe you create a product about how to quickly get up to speed in your new position (so you don’t get yourself fired).

Or maybe you show them how to create a self-directed study plan so they can use their first job as a springboard into the career they really want.

Lots of ways to do that.

The important thing is to not let that first sale be the last.

Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a constant battle to add more marchers to the tail end of the parade — and that’s a lousy position to be in.

There are, broadly speaking, three ways to grow your market. Read more here.