49 // Positioning Formable
In this post I ponder on how to market and position Formable. Spoiler: It’s a rather unorganised brain dump and I’m not coming to any big conclusions, but it’s clear that I should spend more time thinking about this.
When I began working on Formable, I framed it as a “modular productivity tool”. That’s how I’d use such a system. Even though I knew that the first version would be a single player app, I compared it to Notion and Airtable, and also discovered Coda and Fibery back then in 2019. There was no Roam Research yet, though my previous project Votre was kind of similar.
In the last years I didn’t feel so alone in this space anymore, and other people showed me other perspectives of how to use tools like Formable.
For me, that brought of the question of how to market and position Formable. It’s something I talk about a lot with others when chatting about Formable, but yet still don’t have an answer for at all.
Marketing such general use case apps is very different from what most software companies do. I still have to promote specific use cases though. So focusing on a specific group of users or having some personas in mind would clearly help. It would set a focus.
Currently I only know how I use the product, so gathering more user feedback will help, but I should probably already set a focus.
What did other apps do?
Roam Research worked with researchers initially
RemNote focuses on students and learning
Fibery on product teams
When Tana launched, all tools for thought people seemed to talk about it, so they might have just tapped into this now existing group of people. But they don’t seem to focus on a very specific user group too much.
Other apps like Dynalist and Obsidian also don’t seem to focus on a specific group of people. They do explain the main benefits or main ideas behind the app though.
What is this focus good for?
Product: Roadmap planning / design
Knowing who to build for helps making decisions on what to build
Marketing: Being clear with the messaging
I’d know which use cases to talk about
If the landing page states what Formable does really well, and what it does not focus on, people would have an easier time deciding if the tool is for them.
So let’s gather some facts. Where is Formable at? From both the angle of just looking at the product itself, and comparing it to the market.
I myself use it to keep all the things I wouldn’t remember myself organised. I use it as an outliner with daily notes and bidirectional, deep links. The problem is that none of this is all too special. The graph structure supporting all of this might be different from any other app, but that’s not a use case that can be marketed.
The positioning of the app doesn’t just have to be around its competitors, but I have to be able to explain what the app can be used for, and why its great for those use cases.
Zooming out a bit, where I could see Formable being really successful is as a multiplayer app.
But building that will be a lot more work, and I want to gather some very real user feedback now, not in another 6–12 months.
Formable is very simple. There’s very limited UI, you don’t need any setup to get going.
What’s the deal with Formable?
It’s also high time for me to write a new landing page. The current one, only talks about the main concepts behind the app, which is more about its vision than about current use cases. While some of that can stay in, it’s bad at selling the current state of Formable.
No pages—just blocks
Content doesn’t live at a specific place. Put it at multiple places, anywhere it’s useful. You don’t have to tear down the old before building something new.
People use daily notes as a scratchpad/desktop, inbox, or journal, be that for documenting their work, interactions with others, or reflecting their thoughts. Since there are no pages in Formable, you can have all of those. Written or viewed both in one view, and/or separately.
You also don’t have to build complex templates that stress you out about completing them. Just write what you want.
E.g. blocks mentioning a person will show up in your personal CRM.
Formable is in its early stage
Formable doesn’t really have any calendar features, has a terrible mobile experience, and lacks many other features many apps in this space do have.
These are my thoughts for today.
I’ll work more seriously on a new landing page next week.
Thank you for reading!