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May 26, 2021 • Issue #53 by Aron Korenblit

Why I don't recommend no-coders as your core audience

I'm not sure how to share this without coming off as pedantic but here goes. Every now and then, a company trying to break into no-code will reach out to me asking for my advice.

How can we reach the no-code community?

No-code is a growing space with increased legitimacy making no-coder a great target audience, right? Not really. In my opinion, no-coders in general are a terrible initial target audience for a few reasons. Taking a page from Zoelle's playbook, let's talk about Jeff, a typical no-coder.

No-coders are moochers

Jeff has a ton of ideas! Jeff spends his weekends building the MVP for his next project. With no-code tools, it's easy. Stitch a few tools together (maybe even include yours in the mix?) and boom he's got a viable tool. Then comes the hard things: convincing people to give him money! Getting jobs for his job board without any users! Marketing!

Instead of doing those hard things (who wants to do hard things!?), Jeff thinks up another, potentially easier project. Every weekend is another opportunity of striking gold with an idea that doesn't require any of those hard things.

Unsurprisingly, Jeff doesn't want to pay for software that powers all of his duds so he's constantly skirting under the free plan. That doesn't stop Jeff from asking support teams a lot of questions!

Time isn't money

Jeff has a lot of time on his hands. Jeff loves spending that time discovering new tools, switching from one tool to another trying to find that perfect fit. He can fluently compare the advantage and disadvantages of three different competing no-code tools because he's tried them all!

As Jeff goes deeper and deeper into a tool—as he gets nearer to the paid tier—an itch develops: is this the right tool? Could I get more juice from another tool? That's when Jeff will start tweeting about "anyone know any alternatives to your tool"?

For most users, switching tools costs money, because time is money! Hell, insurance companies will charge you below what they expect you to cost them assuming that the three minutes it takes to switch providers isn't worth it to you! People are busy, they ain't got no time to shop their insurance every year!

That isn't the case for Jeff and his tools. Jeff loves switching tools. Jeff's got time.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to pay for servers with Jeff's time. So it's unsustainable for companies to cater to Jeff. Time is money for them too!

I am Jeff

I know I said Jeff is a fictional character, but I am Jeff. I could have written this post in the first person.

The amount of tools I've tried (on the free plan, always) is embarrassing. I will really try any tool out there.

And I don't like paying for them! I'm embarrassed to say this but I recorded most of the Essential Guide to Airtable on the free plan because I feared it was another side project that would never see the light of day, so why waste the money? I work there now--the ROI of that course was just...my god! How embarrassing is that?

So should companies just not cater to the no-code community?

No, no, no, that would be throwing out the baby with the bath water. There are so many reasons to make the no-code community of the many personas you incorporate into your marketing efforts.

The no-code community will push your product's boundaries like no other users. We're talking a bunch of folks who will dig deep into your product uncovering use cases you'd probably never thought of were possible with your tool!

Webflow may brand itself as a no-code website builder but Sarkis sees it as a way to build full fledged web based games!

Airtable, a relational database? Cool cool, but what if we used it as a referral marketing engine tool*.

In addition to pushing your product, no-coders are a great way to seed your community. They know every edge case of your product (because they've explored them all). Not only that but they love answering questions—especially if it gets them credits for your product (which keeps them learning more, answering more...)!

Like all good relationships, you gotta take the good and the bad. The bad of the no-code community is that you're not going to build a unicorn by catering to folks who don't want to pay for your product but that doesn't mean that you can't find a win-win situation where everything gets what they want.

So that's my advice: pitch us your product, we'll try it without hesitation and maybe, a few of us, will become advocates for it and become its champions. But just don't cater too much to us, we're kind of a pain.

Best

Aron

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