Serving different sections of the market for one product

Our product is a content management system, the target audience web designers and developers who build sites for clients. In that large audience however is a really wide variation in skill level, and not just a designer/developer split. We have customers who can barely write HTML, right through to real developers who use Perch along with other frameworks or just for simple sites that their clients request so they can get a job done with minimal fuss.

We’ve been pretty successful at targeting an audience of people for whom “easy” is the main selling point of the product, which then seems to lead to an impression that Perch is way less capable than it actually is. We’re a bit nervous of making it look too technical however - as that would put off many of the customers who like to see it as not being over complicated.

We try and move new users from just seeing the simple things you can do towards seeing all the more advanced functionality that takes a bit more understanding (but is still pretty easy in comparison to most systems) however marketing these features is hard. I sometimes wonder if our emphasis on how easy it is puts off people who don’t need easy!

So my question really is, how do you market a product that could appeal to quite different audiences? Does anyone else here have a similar issue?

I don’t think you’re going to like my opinion on this.

I’ve been going back in time for some examples, and it seems that most companies (not just software companies), eventually segment the market through introduction of a similar product with either a different interface, or a different feature set.

@ianlandsman 's Snappy is on obvious recent example, but I can probably find examples with pretty much any software company that has a customer base with with a wide-range of either technical aptitude or level of “caring about the details” – tax software companies have different products for this reason – audio/video/photo editing software companies – data backup companies.

I mean, what’s the “cheaper” alternative? Segment your landing page / ad copy / sales site? I think that may work for some percentage of new visitors, but you’re still not escaping the issue once the product is installed.

I agree with @andrey. Perch has a reputation as a simple to use CMS for smallish sites.

If you want to target ‘more complicated’ sites, then I think there’s a strong argument to create a sister to Perch which presumably shares a lot of common code, but is marketed as the solution for bigger, more advanced sites.

I am more in the real developer category and purchased Perch a few weeks ago for a little side project.

Before settling on the purchase I did the free trial which is geared for the beginners since you can’t really do anything outside the admin. So the normal docs and api docs is what did all the marketing for me.

My idea would be to just create a new page like feature tour but geared directly toward developers. So you can highlight all the things that are important to them.

I did get the feeling Perch would be very simple but the more I got into it the more I realized it is very powerful.

There isn’t really an issue once the product is installed. In fact one of the nice things about Perch is seeing customers who first emailed saying “I’ve never installed a CMS before, can I do it?” move on and be providing really quite complex solutions to their clients as they start to discover what they can do. If someone is already a developer they get to that point very quickly, but the feedback we get is that they would never have imagined Perch could do some of that stuff, so we obviously have a marketing issue somewhere.

The product can already do this stuff, so creating any differentiation would be creating an artificial fragmentation, the challenge is to make sure people know what it can actually do I think.

Perch is for smallish sites - however probably not as small as it comes across.

The background is that we developed a framework for big sites, the sort of stuff @drewm and I were getting called in to do was develop larger scale custom CMS stuff. Usually because people had some requirement that meant WordPress, Drupal etc. wasn’t a great fit. In building that we solved a lot of problems - especially around how to properly separate the design, content and markup. We then had people asking us to recommend a small solution so we developed Perch.

There are some core decisions in Perch that make it more suited to small or at least simple sites, and some of these things make it easier for people to get started. An obvious thing would be the fact it is physical page based (although you can use it with a front controller), it’s not the sort of system you run a newspaper site on with thousands of documents.

So, if we were to launch a big sister to Perch it would probably be more akin to our old framework and very much target a developer audience. However that’s not the group I’m thinking of so much here, I think Perch already works for the market I’m thinking of - it’s making sure we describe what Perch is to them that is tricky.

Have you thought about investing in some independant User Experience testing? My friend Rian pointed me at a write up from a customer engagement at a theme maker company that blew me away with the level of insight they got from watching people use their site.

The other thing I thought about was expanding more on the self-identifying split you have “for designers”/“for clients” that you have already. There’s a few more “personas” you could add to that without going crazy into details on the homepage.

As Andrey points out, we’ve obviously gone the two products route. Really we’ve gone a step further and created 2 separate and unrelated brands. We’ll see if this was a good idea, it’s certainly much more work!

Perhaps you need to fragment a bit in order to make it more clear. So Perch and Perch Pro or something like that. Even if there’s few feature differences you could then have 2 parts of the site which are more focused on their respective groups.

Maybe it could be even more targeted as pro is kinda iffy, like Perch Agency Edition or something like that. Most less experienced customers know “pro” type definitions aren’t for them, where the tech savvy will naturally look at those solutions as well as generally be more comfortable navigating a site that has multiple editions.

The main reason I can’t see us fragmenting Perch like that is it makes life difficult for everyone. For customers:

  • Which of these products do I buy?
  • If I buy the wrong one do I then have to pay to switch?
  • Is this “non-pro” version for hobbyists? (we actively don’t target the hobbyist market already)

For us we then have to start making decisions about which feature goes into which version of the product on purely marketing grounds, and that’s all a bit, well a lot, icky as we are interested in making a really good product for our customers. I’m not willing to step away from that for marketing purposes, I’d rather fail to solve this problem and maintain a really fantastic product in all honesty!

That write up about user testing a site is really interesting. We tend to worry about the product for things like that but not the website itself, to be honest I’d not even considered it! It would be a fascinating thing to do if we could be sure that the testers were the target market.

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Yeah, I agree about the complexities of picking features for different products if they are too close to one another - icky is a good word for it.

I had no idea that Perch could be used for more than a simple brochure site with a blog or news section in it. Then again, I’ve never gone beyond the top few sections of the home page of either!

The “People love Perch” page and the list of addons I found at gives a much better impression of what’s possible. I assume there’s a better page listing the add-ons somewhere, but I didn’t find it.

Maybe the place to start is to consider how to change the home page a bit to showcase the types of sites that have been built with Perch?

Ah, I like that idea. You can see the mix from brochure to complex very easily with a few examples.