Product Market Fit is Not Enough

Note: This is cross-posted from my old blog.

Most early founders are in search of “product market fit”. Some *think* they have found it. They’ve done customer development, usability testing and everything else, yet when they think they’re ready to look for marketing traction and try some acquisition channels even the “right people” seem like they aren’t interested. What am I doing wrong? Is this just a poor acquisition channel? Does this mean I need to revisit product?

Sound familiar?

This doesn’t mean that you don’t have product market fit! (though it’s possible).

I am a big fan of Sean Ellis’ definition of product market fit that says:

“You’ve reached PMF when 40% of your users say that they would be very disappointed if your product was taken away”
-Sean Ellis

So, what do we do if we’re not there? What f we ARE there but there are problems with user acquisition?

The common solutions to a product market fit problem is to change the product to better solve a customer need or find a new “market”. After all, those are the only two parts of the equation, right?

Not really, in my view:

Product Market Fit is an overly simplistic view of the relationship between a “product” and a “market”

In order to explore this relationship further and diagnose any problems, we created PM-CAM. Here’s how it works:

PM-CAM stands for:

I usually use this visualization to show it.

Hopefully, in addition to Product Market Fit this framework will get you to consider the concepts of Message-Audience fit & Channel-Audience fit in

On Message-Audience Fit

Messaging is usually a person’s first impression of your product/brand and can easily be the thing that prevents people from trying or buying if it doesn’t fit the audience (or just plain sucks). Messaging includes ad copy, website copy or the language an existing customer uses to refer people to you (WOM). I will write a whole piece about the messaging framework that we use at Tradecraft, but here are two major pitfalls to look for. First would be the Brand Marketer’s message: “Just do it” or “Think Different” and the next would be the Technical Founder’s message: “We are a platform for X to Y”; neither are appropriate for startups.

On Channel-Audience Fit

Channels can be tough; they are competitive and often require investment and optimization. Don’t expect them to work right off the bat, but just use common sense here to look at Channel-Audience fit. Are restaurant owners spending a lot of time perusing Facebook? probably not. Knitters, on the other hand, spend lots of time on pinterest, find them there.

On Audiences

Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing channel. It can also amplify the results of any paid marketing that you do. Generally, word of mouth is spread through communities of people, called audiences. A market is made up of many audiences. These should be people that know each other! Women between the ages of 22–30 is too broad. Knitters are a better audience; they share a common interest, spend time together and tell each other about new products in their lives.

This framework is to help you explore the relationship between consumers and products. How would you apply this framework to YOUR product?