Pivot, PIVOT!

“Do you have a business plan?”

“Well no, you see BugMuncher just kind happened, it was never planned.”

“OK, how about a marketing plan?”

“Er, no.”

“Right, well have you defined your target market?”

“Sort of, well actually no, not really.”

I was starting to think my meeting with Gary from North Devon Plus, a local businesses development organisation, wasn’t going well.

Suddenly it all comes rushing back to me - I’m in school, in a really boring lesson (usually history), and I’ve been day dreaming, maybe even actually sleeping. The teacher has asked me a question, and I have no idea what the answer is. I am the deer in the proverbial headlights.

Mercifully my vivid reliving of the late 90s ends abruptly when Gary continues:

“Not to worry, that’s what we’re here for.”

By the end of the day I’d not only have a business plan, I’d have a whole new outlook on BugMuncher.

Target Market

Whenever someone asked me about BugMuncher’s target market, my answer would be “Anyone with an on-line business”. I thought it was brilliant, the market was huge! There are of millions of on-line businesses in the world, so if I can just get 0.00001% of those I’ll be rich! Well, it turns out I’m an idiot.

I’ve come to the conclusion that having a target market that is too big, or too general, is as bad as having no target market at all. The main reason I’ve really been struggling with marketing BugMuncher is because I had no idea to whom I’m marketing it. Hell, I wasn’t even sure what BugMuncher was for.

Let that sink in for a minute. Me, the guy who built BugMuncher, and has spent the last 4 years working on it, didn’t know what it was for.

Of course I had ideas: It could be used to get feedback from website users, or for internal team communication during website development, or for client feedback, but a good tool should do just one job, and do that job exceptionally.

So not only did I not have a clearly defined target market, I hadn’t even figured out my primary use case. No wonder I’ve been struggling to figure out this whole marketing thing.

This problem arose because when I built BugMuncher, I wasn’t solving a specific problem for a specific audience. I was merely reacting to this post on Hacker News:

I can hear my Mum’s voice in my head now - “If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?” But at the time there was nothing that offered this kind of visual feedback for websites, nothing like BugMuncher. The closest thing was Bugherd, who had started working on a screenshot feature for their bug tracker tool.

So based solely on that post and its comments, I built BugMuncher.

The Competition

Of course before I started on BugMuncher I looked into existing website feedback tools, not one of them had the screenshot functionality, so I didn’t really consider them competition. Now I knew there was demand and a gap in the market.

A service called Usersnap launched about 6 months after BugMuncher, their feedback tool mimicked the Google Plus (and BugMuncher) functionality. At some point Bugherd did indeed add a screenshot functionality to their tool. Then came Trackduck, and then Debugme, and probably a load more I’ve not heard of. Suddenly screenshot based website feedback tools were popping up everywhere. At least I can say BugMuncher was the first.

What I hadn’t noticed until now is that each of those tools has a clearly defined purpose, and therefore a target market: Bugherd is still very much a bug tracker. Usersnap added new tools like a pixel ruler, as they evolved into a tool for team communication. Trackduck is aimed at getting client feedback.

Meanwhile BugMuncher continued sitting on the fence between use cases, trying to please everyone, yet struggling to get the attention of anyone.

Which brings me to the present day, and my meeting with Gary from North Devon Plus. While discussing marketing we talked about SEO, and how BugMuncher does quite well for terms like ‘Feedback Tab’. I was trying some searches when I noticed some of the old-school website feedback companies, the ones that were around before BugMuncher, albeit without a screenshot functionality.

I decided to check out these companies again, after all it had been a few years since I last looked into them, I could probably learn something from these guys.

The first thing I noticed was that most of them did now offer a screenshot functionality, they’d become my competition without me even realising. I’d love to think that BugMuncher was the catalyst for this. Maybe it was, indirectly at least, but I’ll never know.

The next thing I noticed was that these tools were all squarely aimed at getting feedback from end users, primarily on eCommerce sites. There was even a name for this kind of tool - “Voice of (the) Customer”, or VoC. I figured these companies must be on to something, since they’ve been around for a while.

My final observation was that these VoC companies were all aimed at big, enterprisey-type customers. A plan started to form…

It’s not all about screenshots

I think the root of this problem has always been how I thought of BugMuncher, how I built it around screenshots. Currently you can’t submit feedback through BugMuncher without also sending a screenshot. This is bad because:

  • A screenshot may not always be necessary
  • Creating the screenshots costs money
  • Creating the screenshots takes time

BugMuncher was “Screenshots with feedback“, when it should have been “Feedback with Screenshots”

One good thing did come from my obsession with screenshots - BugMuncher’s screenshots kick ass. When I tried the existing VoC companies screenshot function, some of them failed to even make an accurate screenshot of their own homepage using the latest Google Chrome. When it comes screenshots, BugMuncher reigns supreme.

Time to pivot!

Seeing as all the companies that launched after BugMuncher where focused on internal team and client feedback, I decided BugMuncher would go the other way and join the ranks of the old school VoC companies - that’s what most of my existing customers are using BugMuncher for anyway. The beauty of this is while all these other VoC companies are busy wooing large enterprises, I can position BugMuncher as the tool of choice for SMEs.

So now BugMuncher has a use case and a target market: User feedback for small and medium sized eCommerce and SaaS companies

The more I thought about it, the happier I felt about this choice. It’s still a decent sized market, especially since services like Shopify make it really easy for anyone to start an online shop. And now I know who my target customers are, developing a marketing strategy will be much easier. I feel a lot more excited about marketing BugMuncher than I ever have.

Ok, so it’s not so much a pivot as it is a re-focusing, but I love that scene from Friends, and really wanted to use it as the header image for this post. BugMuncher is still, and will always be a feedback tool, but some things are going to change in the near future.

What’s in a name?

Time to address the elephant in the room. The name, BugMuncher, should I change it?

For changing the name: Against changing the name:
BugMuncher doesn't really suit this new use case BugMuncher is a somewhat established brand
I could have another go at product hunt The domain name has decent page rank
BugMuncher may be off-putting to some Naming things is hard
I've been wanting to get a new logo made anyway Good .com domain names are hard to find
Cost for new domain name and SSL certificates

Even though there are more arguments against changing the name, I feel like the for arguments carry more weight, so I’m currently leaning towards changing the name. Please leave a comment if you think I should or shouldn’t change the name, or if you have any suggestions for a new name.

The Figures

No figures today, as in a break from tradition this post has come before the end of the month. I think I may stick with this new format, ie: writing posts whenever there’s something worth writing about, and then doing a shorter monthly recap with the figures, what do you think?

- Matt Bearman