This concept is a war-inspired metaphor referring to the idea that if you were to try to penetrate a bit of every army of your enemy you will likely fail. However, if you start with one adversarial army, likely the beachhead, you can conquer this segment fully and from there on move yourself to the next.
In entrepreneurship, this strategy has proven to be just as effective. Dr Geoffrey Moore has coined this term in his book Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers in which he suggests to start with a small niche before moving on to the customer segment. Moreover, the notion of the beachhead is rather a need-based phenomenon than a demographical one. Most successful companies have started with an incredibly small niche and worked themselves up from there. Reddit has started with a very specific geek-like customer type but has expanded rapidly from there and is now used just as much by mainstream users. Facebook started with one single Tinder-like service for students only at Harvard. Later it spread to other Ivy-league universities and from then on it expanded its services and started tackling the mass market. Tinder also started only on the west-coast and only by targeting college students. They promoted their app on college parties and sororities – physically. You might be surprised how many successful apps started with physical promotion.
1. You can use limited resources effectively
2. Mistakes in one segment are usually not transferred to another
3. Within a specific niche there is incredibly strong word of mouth
Reference to Niching
However, be aware that beachhead strategy is not niching. While niching refers to addressing a specific niche and staying with it, beachhead strategy starts with a specific need, but conquers the entire market from there. Some products work better with a niching strategy and some better with a beachhead strategy. While we’d love to give examples, their value is limited. You will need to assess your individual scenario and see whether your product may be altered towards mass adoption or not.
This article has 9 neat tricks to consider when targeting your beachhead segment: