Milan van den Bovenkamp

Publish Date

25th of July 2017

Finding your product niche is about killing your darlings

product niche intercom slack drift product thinking

When Intercom became successful in the last five years they became the to go to tool for messaging of all kinds. With being more successful they grew in users, customers; and in turn also in people and features.

Intercom is still growing like wildfire, they are one of the fastest growing tools out there. Data even shows they grow faster than Slack.

product niche intercom slack drift product thinking

Only, there’s another tool in town, not so much to kill Intercom—but to challenge it. The people that started Drift just asked: “Why can’t we only make messaging for sales and marketing”. They asked why can’t we do this specific feature of Intercom better than they do.

Drift is now present on a lot of websites as a sales companion for teams. Boston-based Drift Drift is now on the rise because it’s simpler, more people that are not interested in the many features of Intercom chose Drift. Intercom is still out there, but don’t get discouraged with building your software when you see a company. It’s easier every day to switch software for customers. It’s a great example for challengers that just started to not compare yourself to competitors or markets and to forge your own path.

“Don’t get discouraged by the big fish, just go more niche”

When you focus on sales and marketing only, you can easily go and deepen yourself in that space. Like create a bot that’s doing the sales for you.

Drift Bot marks the second push for Drift to forge their own niche path. They have big plans for AI. The idea is that Drift Bot, living in a website’s landing page is able to do entire transactions with customers, give them discounts and semantically connects details about customers. In a way this is how it’s done with normal people doing a bit of research and using the context to be more personal.

Go niche or go home.

Ask yourself the essential questions constantly to support your product niche. By doing this you keep your eyes on the prize; that hockeystick growth curve.

A way to continue to ask yourself is through Product Thinking. I first read about it through Nikkel Blaase and “hey it’s another effort to define something in a complex world”. But for UX designers and product managers like me it helps to ask the right questions. We should all pin this to our forehead so we can get arguments around days or weeks of work our team is taking on.

By thinking of a core experience we think about the single problem a product should solve. In this approach the features come later, to support the core experience. Nikkel gives an example in one of his articles:

“The core user experience is not a set of features—it’s why people use the product. Uber’s core user experience is to get a taxi easily at any time. The countdown, displaying when exactly the taxi will arrive, is a suitable feature that expands this experience.”

To name another example, Norwegian born is a simple way to start a call someone over video with one or more people through a URL. Their core experience is calling, their screen sharing option is just another feature that supports this call. If you think of the anatomy of your product every decision should be made around that.

“Building features is easy, building the right features for the right people is challenging” – Nikkel Blaase

product niche intercom slack drift product thinking

Finding product niche

Finding the niche of your product, the few people that absolutely love your product, not the many people that simply like your product is a challenge. It’s tempting to go all in with a feature-fest, just keep asking the right questions, reason from first principles and do a little product thinking instead of designing and developing features all day long. Let us help you ask the right questions from an external perspective and extend your team. 

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