Platform Marketing Challenges

Platform Marketing is challenging because you end up with N+1 messages and personas (when N is the number of sides of your network).

You may start with the “come for the tool, stay for the network” mentality, which is great. But, that means your initial marketing and value prop communication efforts are all around why someone should use the tool. This is just straight product marketing at this point.

Once this works you now have some compelling mass on Side 1 that Side 2 is interested in. So you can’t stop your feature-based ROI-laden message to Side 1 as you still want more of them, but now you need to have a real platform marketing approach to side highlighting the breadth of access and lowered transaction cost with Side 1.

This is where it gets interesting. Now you’ve got Side 2 built up enough that Side 1 could/should be compelled by a platform message: highlighting the number, quality, and ease of access of the Side 2 participants. But you’ve built a base of Side 1 with Product Marketing and clearly that works. So what commonly occurs at this stage you see 3 concurrent and desperate messages: Side 1 Product, Side 2 Platform, and Side 1 Platform. 

These all make sense logically from mapping the business model through to what attraction is needed and the to what the positioning is. But when considered from a users perspective there is more that’s irrelevant than is relevant at any one time, which leads to confusion and a sense of lack of empathy. 

My recommendation if you get to this point is to lean into your accomplishment. First, ditch the Product Marketing if your cross-side pull is getting you growth. Next, (and this likely follows much later) ditch the per-side positioning and embrace a community marking approach – focusing on each side generates subtle adversarial tendencies where one side doesn’t *really* know why the other side joined, shifting to “be part of a community with different, thriving populations” can help make transparent why each side on the network and further reduce.

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