I am Ahab, and to succeed at marketing, you should be too.

I got hooked onto books early in my life. Stories. Adventures. Thrill. I was mystified.

One of the books I simply loved as a child was Moby Dick. The story of an obsessive quest of Ahab, chasing after Moby Dick, the giant sperm whale.

Marketing somehow reminds me of the initial premise of the book. The absolute, unwavering focus of Ahab onto Moby Dick. (I’m well aware of how the story goes and how it ends, so lets not get carried away and draw parallels, but stick onto the core premise. The obsession. The absolute focus. The chase.) Focus kept aside, why I think of Moby Dick when I think of marketing? Well, the mind works in funny ways, and I don’t know why exactly the story pops into my head every time, given the tragic end. But, I like to think the reason behind is that obsession portrayed beautifully in the book.

So what has Moby Dick got to do with marketing.

Know who you are going after. That’s what.

As an entrepreneur, it is easy to get carried away and think of the world as your oyster. After all, the more people your product is useful to, the larger your total addressable market becomes, the more valuable your business gets. Right?

While in theory that sounds great, that is rarely the case. Specially in the formative months and years of your business. Customer types are often different from each other in what defines them, motivates them, and excites them. So each macro customer segment requires you to communicate your product differently. The more macro segments you target, the more you spread yourself thin describing your product in as many different ways, the less impact you will be able to have with any one of them.

Pick your Moby Dick. It will help you be more focused in your approach.

We have a Moby Dick of our own

Just take our example. We are a web analytics and insight platform, designed for growth. So, theoretically, anybody with a website is a potential customer for us. But that would make it quite difficult for us to paint a beautiful picture of how we can help our customers. We would need to excessively water down our communication so that it is as generic as possible, and caters to as many different customer types as possible.

We did not want to do that. So we chose a Moby Dick. SaaS businesses.

We have few secondary targets as well, primarily because they intersect, with varying degrees, with the reasons behind us picking SaaS businesses.

Why SaaS businesses?

Think of it this way. The best products help customers do one of the following things. Make more money. Save money. Save time.

We are in growth. So naturally, we are all about helping our customers make more money, without increasing their spend or time involvement per customer acquired.

Traffic. That has been our entry point so far. So which business can you think of that will make more money with an increase in traffic.


It’s all about percentages. More traffic translates to more subscribers, more leads, more trial activations. All of those translate to more paying customers; ergo, increased revenue.

What it meant was that it would be simpler to help a SaaS business see why becoming a customer of a platform like ours is an investment in their growth, and it will pay back for itself (and then some) by helping them make more and more money in the coming months and quarters.

We could now be more focused in everything. The copy on our website, the images we use, the way we approached designing our product, the questions we answered on our FAQ page. The starting point of each aspect was the question - If I am a SaaS business, what would I be looking for on this page.

So, if focus is the key, why have secondary targets at all?

While defining customer archetypes is important, when you undergo that exercise, you will find that for each archetype, there are few more that have common defining traits with the primary target.

Take our example. One of our secondary targets is content creators. Much like SaaS businesses, more traffic means more revenue to content creators as well. So we would have been amiss you ignore content creators.

And we could not very well use the same communique for both of them. Why not? Once again, the more segments you club together, the more you will need to water down your overall messaging to make it relevant to everyone involved. And that’s never a good idea.

It is a hard call to make

Make no mistake, this will be one of the toughest calls you would be making. Specially given the fact that it would look like you are intentionally planning to leave money on the table. And as an early stage startup, nothing hurts more than turning your back to potential revenue. But in the long run, your business will thank you for it.

We have had our fair share of dialogues, debates and discussions around it. But there comes a point where you just have to take a page from Raymond Reddington’s playbook.

I said No

We genuinely believe this approach of ours is a much better way as compared to just going all out there trying to convert each and every customer, whoever they may be, or wherever they may come from. We are following this approach ourselves, and we highly recommend you do as well.

How it ends up performing is something we would keep you updated on.

For the time being, let me leave you with this quote:

There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.

Our madness is in our consistent focus on one particular customer segment.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.


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