My apologies for the week-long delay. Certain positive developments have made me postpone this article. It turns out it’s actually a good thing because some recent experiences have lead me to new conclusions.
Before I get to the point, let me assume a situation which will increase the impact this article will have. Say you wish to introduce a new product or a service to the market in which you have insufficient experience and where your offer is somewhat of a novelty. Your product hasn’t just materialized out of thin air. You actually noticed a problem and decided to create a solution. Sure, people have been dealing with it somehow thus far, however, now, thanks to you, everyone’s life will become much better, despite the competition being active and perhaps operating with bigger budgets.
I’d say this is a typical situation for startups and new tech, for instance, IT, IoT, smart city, sustainable energy, and biotech. In such cases, product manufacturers often have extensive analytics at their disposal and in-depth insights into the problem, however, they’re not great at understanding the new market and human behaviour.
Before you define your offer, you need to consider two assumptions:
the offer has to easily attract layman’s attention and explain the benefits of the product,
you need to focus on up to 3 aspects (no one’s going to remember more anyway at this stage),
the offer has to include a cooperation and co-creation elements, which will be crucial for building the so called consortium. Keep in mind that everyone wants to grow. Thus, if you require other’s help, you need to facilitate their growth.
Let’s expand on the first point.
A common problem of a product creator is showcasing his offer. In many cases, when defining his offer, he focuses on putting the multiple available features on display. He creates an endless list, combining the features into various sets which are supposed to generate new solutions. I suppose the intention is to showcase the product as a multi-faceted one, having different capabilities, and adjusting to the user’s needs. The problem is that a multitude of features complicates matters and no one besides the creator wants to decide how a given feature of the product will help one achieve his goal. The client rarely knows he has a problem at all. And if he does, he expects a concrete, proven way to solving it, not a thousand intermediate options. There are exceptions, of course, but in these days and times, when snap judgement rules, you need to get to the point right away. We call it a strong competitive advantage, or a work horse.
Another important issue is keeping tabs on what the competition is doing and the trends prevalent in the industry. Agreed, certain level of awareness is important, however, I reckon you need to set trends yourself. The competition is only one of the benchmarks helping you stay on course.
So, where do you begin?
Having a product or a service and knowing there’s a demand for it, let’s take a look at how it affects the user here and now, tomorrow, and in a year’s time. If you provide a new user with the product and explain how it works, you can observe and collect initial feedback. You’ll also be able to see what changes tomorrow and deduce (on your own, or jointly) what’s going to happen in the long run. Will these changes strengthen the product and make it grow, or will they not matter. This is crucial in terms of changes you’re supposed to introduce.
Your offer will always involve a number of uncertainties. That said, the value you need to deliver today, or in certain time, plus the opportunities this will generate are the deciding factor here and now. You can do this kind of research by testing the product internally, in a closer circle. Utilizing your team’s life experiences (everyone knows someone who’s going to be your potential future client, or will resemble one), you can hit up your close audience even if the offer is not fully ready and run a simple test with them. Personally, I reckon it’s best to combine these strategies.
Looking from the market and your client’s perspective, as well as taking into account the changes taking place, you’ll be able to figure out the main customer value. Keep in mind though that it’s best to look at the obtained value from a broad perspective in order to see the total of events and stages surrounding your product. The point is that while observing the customer, you need to lay down his growth path. This will help him stay motivated to use your product. Any product or service must improve customer’s life in the end. This is achieved through providing experience he’s never seen before…
The article will be continued next month. Let us know if you like this format. If anything’s not clear enough, ask.
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Keep on growing efficiently,
Photo: Ksenia Polovodova