Before Launching A New Product Or Service
Before launching a new product or service, or even a new business, what do you think is the most important thing you must do? Is it to read a bunch of market research reports? Is it to look at what your competitors are doing? Is it to calculate the gross profit you will make on each unit you will sell? While these are all important, in fact, the most important and most overlooked step is to ask your customers what they need!
Not everyone agrees on this point. In fact, many prominent and amazing entrepreneurs have made statements to the effect: “Customers don’t really know what they want, and even if they do, they cannot articulate it too well, particularly in a market research environment.” It’s hard to argue with Steve Jobs’ success in developing extraordinary products, of course, but I think that if done correctly, asking your customers and prospects a few questions, can inform how your develop your products and services and help increase your odds of success.
In particular, along with several other successful entrepreneurs I know personally, and several others I have studied and learned from recently, I believe it is useful to ask your clients and prospects the following questions. Then, just let them talk, or let them type if it’s a written survey.
The first question you should ask them is: “What are the three (or five) biggest challenges you face in trying to accomplish X (whatever is relevant to the product or service you are considering offering, or more broadly, the market you are entering).”
The second question you should ask is: “What is the one issue or risk (or potential issue or risk) you face that keeps you awake at night related to X (your potential offering)?”
The third question you should ask is: “What are your biggest frustrations in or with X (the issue or situation you’re trying to address with your new offering).”
The fourth question you should ask is: “What would have to happen for you to double (or triple, or whatever makes sense in the context of your offering) your productivity (or enjoyment, or whatever metric makes the most sense) in X (the area of your offering)?
The fifth question you should ask is: “What have you already tried to solve the challenges (or issues, etc.) that you are facing in or with X? Did they work? If not, or if they partially worked, where did they go wrong and what worked well?”
There are other questions you can and maybe should ask, of course, but these get to the core of what you’re trying to determine before you take the next steps in launching your product, service, or business. That core is: what are the pain points that your customers and prospects are struggling with and what are their aspirations?
Some would tell you that it’s sufficient just to know the points of pain, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that in order to reach your peak as a marketer and entrepreneur, you must also orient yourself toward the aspirations of your customers and prospects. As humans, we usually work hard to avoid pain, but we also strive to achieve our aspirations. While most marketing studies and anecdotal evidence I’ve seen confirm that the instinct to avoid pain is stronger than the motivation to seek “pleasure,” your effectiveness is even greater when you can take both into account in formulating your product development and marketing strategies.
Don’t launch products, services, or businesses without asking your prospective customers about their needs, concerns and aspirations. I know that sounds like common sense, but you’d be amazed how many entrepreneurs I’ve met who have committed the cardinal sin of launching a new product, service, or business based on their own tastes, thinking that they’re representative of what the market seeks and needs. That approach typically does not end well.
I look forward to your thoughts. Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.
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