It takes two to tango

Any one have a product that requires buy-in from businesses and consumers? Who do you focus on first?

Bootstrapping? I’d say business. Having been part of an early stage consumer-focussed company - it’s really hard to get any customer traction at all.

Businesses also (typically) have money to spend and are not allergic to paid software or products unlike (typically) someone buying things for themselves.

I’d have to think long and hard about a B2C product.

An interesting area (particularly for info-products) is the B2D (developer) or B2F (freelancer!) markets. These are often customers who can act a bit more like businesses. e.g. I won’t think twice about dropping 30 bucks on an ebook that helps me quickly solve a work-related problem that otherwise would have taken me a whole (billable!) day.

Are you talking about a 2-sided market? If so, you need both sides at the same time, buyer and seller! That is why it is so hard.

Not sure. I’m thinking about a scenario where a business pays for a service that makes interacting with their customers better. However, the service is not forced onto their customers; the customer needs to discover it whether it’s via the business or marketing efforts done from the service provider.

Yes. After posting the question, I was thinking about it from my angle and realized that the business is the obvious choice since they would be the paying party. The consumer simply benefits from the businesses use of the service but I was initially thinking that I needed to build awareness on the consumer side for it to be effective. But that just isn’t realistic. Building a client list inherently does this until building an awareness among consumers is viable as a standalone marketing goal.

It depends. How’s that for an insightful answer?

If you are talking about a product that a business will use to interact with their existing customers as well as potential new customers then certainly the business side needs to come first.

If you are talking about a marketplace where there are sellers (businesses) and buyers, you need a couple initial sellers to take the dip so you actually have product to list but then you need to build the customer side in order to attract any sellers.

If you are talking about anything where what you are selling to the business side is the consumer side itself (such as every ad-based business, social media, etc…) then consumers have to come first.

As has already been discussed, these types of business can be notoriously difficult to bootstrap. I have experience trying to build one of these businesses as an incubated project within a funded company. Because we had a little bit of funding allocated to us we tried the “fake it till you make it” approach by buying consumer traffic/action in order to get the business side interested. In the long run the business as a whole didn’t pan out but jump-starting one side in order to build the other was actually an effective strategy. That’s harder to pull off when you aren’t sitting on cash to burn.