Have you ever sat and wondered why Uber and Urban Clap are such a roaring success? Why a simplistic app like Freshmenu took the world by storm? What all these products have in common is that they aim to solve real problems and pain points of consumers. Because at the end of the day, customers don’t care about your product, they are just concerned with how your product can solve THEIR problems. This is the secret that smart marketers and product designers realize early on, rather than after failing with many “innovative” products that look very “cool” but are of little interest to their target audience!
Now, let’s dive deep into the real question at hand today – Is your product really solving a problem?
To get to the answer, ask yourself the following questions:
Does your audience really NEED your product?
The first thumb rule of sales and marketing is you CAN’T sell to everyone. Before you pitch your product to a prospect, decipher if he really needs it.
Let’s take an example to understand this concept better. You’re a realtor selling a luxury accommodation. Do you start your sales spiel by saying “This is a dream house with five bedrooms, attached sauna, modular kitchen, spacious attic…and so on?” Now, there are a number of things wrong with this approach: You haven’t drilled down upon the basic question of whether your audience really needs this house. In fact, your product strategy is ambiguous, based on too many assumptions. Some of them can be, all people want a large accommodation, budget is no constraint, etc. But actually, these are real issues and incumbents that prevent people from splurging on a costly house.
You will be surprised how many experienced professionals ignore this foundational step and get carried away with economics, logistics, and aspirations, and then, are forced to backtrack to fundamentals and the drawing board once again!
So when crafting your product strategy, keep the following points in mind:
- Research thoroughly: Identify your target audience and focus efforts on them. Market and sell only to them. This not only saves time, expenditure, and efforts, but also is a sure-shot guarantee of success.
- Rid away assumptions: Your job doesn’t end with identifying audiences. The next step would be to break down your problem statement into small, consumable sub-statements. Then, list out the assumptions on which each sub-statement is based and compute the risk factor.
- Test, test, and test some more: This is non-negotiable if you are aiming for success. Create a pilot product or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and test it on real audiences. Observe interactions and identify bottlenecks. Tackle roadblocks one at a time. Keep in mind that you can add bells and whistles later. First, you need a bug-proof solution that becomes indispensable to its users.
Once, you have a sound product strategy that is based on concrete problem statements and thorough research, fearlessly move onto production.
Have you marketed your product as a “problem-solver”?
Rules of marketing have changed tremendously. Where once the seller dictated terms, now consumer is the king. Consumers hold the key to a product’s success and all you, as a marketer has to do is to really LISTEN to them. Ask them questions instead of brushing aside their concerns. Get to the root of their problems. Use story-telling and case studies to showcase your product as the answer to their prayers.
The moment you stop selling and start empathizing, you will transform from a salesperson to an ally. This is Inbound Marketing, the newest kid on the marketing block. Marketers have now swallowed the bitter pill- Nobody wants to be sold to! So, if you can’t fight them, join them. Be on the customers’ side. Be their best friend. Build up their pain- seems heartless? Actually, it’s not. Though your customers might be aware of their problems, they might be postponing remedy for later. Make their problems a priority. Paint it demonic, impossible to ignore, top of their To-Do list. Only then will your product change from a “good-to-have” to a “must-have”.
A word of caution here: DO NOT, under any circumstances, put pressure on your consumers to buy. You want to make buying seem as their decision. If customers suspect foul play, they will regress and the bond of trust you painstakingly created will be breached. Nudge them down the sales funnel gently. Delight them with helpful articles and resources and acknowledge other competitive options (but present genuine evidence how your product is better).
The key here is to put consumers first. The assembly line selling approach doesn’t work anymore. Marketing is much more personal now. Haven’t you noticed how many marketing mailers now have your name and personalized subject lines? You end up clicking them instead of dismissing them as machine-generated impersonal emails trying to lure you into buying something you will never use and regret later.
Your job doesn’t end with selling. In fact, this is just the start. Don’t forget that you need to convert on boarders to loyal followers. Repeat customers are a major revenue generator for any business and after-sales service is the best way to keep competitors at bay. Keep up the communication with your customers. Ask for feedback and incorporate it into future upgrades. Publish their stories in your websites and quote them to future prospects. Convert one-time users into valuable promoters of your business, and keep the ball rolling.
Problem-solving should be your mantra for devising product strategy, marketing, and upgrading. As people will always be coming up with new problems, you will never run out of ideas for new products. Never lose track of your ultimate goal- customer satisfaction. A genuine problem-solver will always be appreciated by the masses. As problems evolve, so should your product. Never fear change as change is the only constant, more so in the world of product design and marketing.
Stay tuned for more updates on product design, delivery, and marketing.