Audience vs. Revenue TAM: Total Addressable Market for Business Growth

In the world of business and investment, understanding your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is crucial for shaping strategies and directing growth efforts.

This concept, often scrutinized by venture capitalists and strategists, defines the total market demand for a product or service. Specifically, it delves into two distinct types: Audience TAM and Revenue TAM, both important yet fundamentally different aspects that are crucial for both entrepreneurs and marketers.

In this post, we’re going to break down the two types of TAM, how they differ from each other, and why it’s important to understand each of them when assessing the value and obtainable revenue of your audience.

Yaniv Masjedi
CMO, Nextiva

Their expertise has helped Nextiva grow its brand and overall business

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What Is Total Addressable Market (TAM)?

Total Addressable Market, or TAM, is the overall revenue opportunity available for a product or service, assuming 100% market share. It’s a concept primarily used in business for strategy development and investment evaluation.

It’s important to note that TAM should be realistic and reflect a deep understanding of the market. It’s just one component of market analysis, along with the Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and the Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM), which further refine the target market size to what is directly reachable by a business and what portion of that market can realistically be captured, respectively.

For example, companies like Facebook or WhatsApp exhibit vast audience TAMs, appealing to investors due to their enormous potential market cap influenced by their extensive user base.

From TAM also stems SAM and SOM (which stand for “Service Available Market” and “Serviceable Obtainable Market” respectively). We won’t get too far into those today because they’re not the core focus of this guide, but here’s a quick rundown of how the three relate to each other:

circle graph of total addressable market: TAM, SAM, SOM

However, TAM is not just some emblematic concept.

Now, to get a little more focused on the topic at hand, total addressable market branches into two core categories worth paying attention to: Audience TAM and Revenue TAM, each serving unique purposes and strategic approaches in business modeling:

  • Audience TAM refers to the total number of individuals or entities that could potentially use or be interested in your product or service. It’s about reach, brand awareness and the sheer volume of people your business could impact.
  • Revenue TAM focuses more on the potential revenue your business could generate within the market, emphasizing value over volume

Take, for instance, social media influencers or brands that, despite having fewer likes or engagement, might still have a significant Revenue TAM due to the nature of their products or services. This distinction is vital for businesses, especially when aligning their objectives, whether they aim for broad market awareness or targeted, revenue-generating strategies.

Applications of Revenue TAM and Audience TAM

Take a look at Salesforce. A leader in the CRM space, Salesforce might not generate viral content but still holds a substantial Revenue TAM in its industry, focusing on generating significant business value over social media presence, likes and engagement.

Salesforce strategically prioritized expanding its market share in the CRM industry over chasing ephemeral social media fame. And by concentrating on Revenue TAM, Salesforce solidified a consistent, targeted approach toward sustainable business growth and customer satisfaction.

Another great example is personal branding, as demonstrated by figures like Gary Vaynerchuk. Focusing on a large Audience TAM through content around universal themes like patience and gratitude, Gary V builds his audience, which, in turn, funnels into business opportunities for his ad agency, VaynerMedia.

Related Content: Business Growth: When to Focus and When to Experiment

TAM in Business Strategy

In business, particularly startups, the distinction between focusing on Audience TAM and Revenue TAM can dictate strategy direction and resource allocation.

For instance, a business may opt to concentrate on Revenue TAM when its primary goal is monetization and market penetration. Conversely, if the aim is brand building or entering new markets, Audience TAM might take precedence.

Professional services and consultancy firms like Ernst & Young, Bain, and Accenture represent high Revenue, TAM-centric business models. These entities thrive on specialized high-value services, targeting a narrower audience compared to mass-market products but with significantly higher revenue potential per client.

Total addressable market (TAM) is a useful metric for businesses for several reasons:

  • Market Understanding: It helps in understanding the size of the opportunity in a market segment or for a particular product, providing a ceiling on the potential sales or revenue that a company can achieve.
  • Strategic Planning: By knowing the TAM, businesses can strategize on product development, marketing, sales, and expansion efforts. As mentioned, it’s a crucial figure for startups and established businesses looking to enter new markets or launch new products.
  • Investment Decisions: Investors often look at the TAM to gauge the potential return on investment. A large TAM might indicate a significant growth opportunity, making it an attractive investment proposition.
  • Resource Allocation: Understanding the TAM can help a company allocate its resources more effectively by focusing on markets with a larger potential for revenue.
  • Competition Analysis: It provides insight into how crowded the market might be and what share of the market is already captured by competitors, guiding competitive strategy.

TAM is typically calculated in three different ways:

  • Top-Down Approach: Using industry reports and market research to estimate the total market size.
  • Bottom-Up Approach: Calculating TAM based on product prices and the number of potential customers within the target market.
  • Value Theory Approach: Estimating the value that the product or service will provide to customers and what they would be willing to pay for it, thereby calculating the potential market size.

Related Content: 5 Business Trends to Keep an Eye On: Back to Basics

Balancing Audience and Revenue TAM

Understanding when to prioritize Audience TAM over Revenue TAM, or vice versa, is crucial for businesses at various stages of their lifecycle. Identifying the right moment to focus on expanding your market reach or concentrating on revenue generation can significantly influence your strategic direction and operational efficiency.

The key is to balance reach with conversion, tailoring strategies to either build an audience or convert an existing one into paying customers.

This involves a dynamic approach, where the strategies may shift based on market conditions, business objectives, and consumer behavior trends. For content creators and marketers, this might mean alternating between broad-reaching educational content and more niche, product-specific offerings.

Here are several ways to balance Audience and Revenue total addressable market effectively:

  • Segment Your Market: Differentiate your strategies for different segments of your market. Use audience insights to tailor your content and products, ensuring that each segment receives a targeted approach that aligns with its interests and needs.
  • Leverage Analytics: Review analytics regularly to understand which types of content and products resonate with your audience and drive revenue. This data-driven approach will inform your decisions on when to focus on audience building and when to push for conversions.
  • Content Diversification: Create a mix of content that serves dual purposes. Some should aim to broaden your reach and build brand awareness (Audience TAM), while others should focus on converting leads into sales (Revenue TAM).
  • Customer Feedback Loop: Implement a system to gather and analyze customer feedback. This will help you better understand your audience’s needs and preferences, allowing you to adjust your products and content to better serve both Audience and Revenue TAM goals.
  • Dynamic Marketing Strategies: Develop marketing campaigns that address both ends of the TAM spectrum. For example, run brand awareness campaigns on social media to increase your audience while simultaneously conducting targeted email marketing campaigns to drive sales.
  • Product Development and Innovation: Regularly update your product or service offerings based on market trends and customer feedback. This ensures relevance to your target audience while potentially opening new revenue streams.

Final Thoughts on Total Addressable Market (Audience TAM vs. Revenue TAM)

Understanding and leveraging the concepts of Audience and Revenue TAM can significantly impact a business’s strategy and success.

While Audience TAM focuses on the scale of potential engagement, Revenue TAM zeroes in on the economic potential. Entrepreneurs and marketers must discern between these models, aligning their strategies with their business goals, whether they aim to maximize outreach or drive revenue.

When you effectively navigate the dichotomy between Audience and Revenue TAM, you can position your business more strategically in the market, which ultimately leads to sustainable growth and profitability.

When it comes to gauging your business’s growth potential, it is vital that you understand the nuances of your Total Addressable Market. Knowing and understanding your own limitations and opportunities in this market will not only give you perspective but also equip you to make informed decisions and steer your ventures toward success.

If you’re ready to level up your business, Single Grain’s business growth experts can help! (We’ve grown our own company to 7 figures.)👇

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