How often have your created a product or service, marketed it, and then been disappointed by the results? If you’re like most owners, entrepreneurs and service providers the answer is, “More often than I care to admit.” Since that experience is such a common occurrence, you and I ought to ask ourselves, “Why is that?
And to help us discover the answer together, here’s a critical question I’d like you to answer,
Chances are you (or you and a team of your people) were thinking/discussing, “What should our next product or service be?” You then came up with a number of ideas and selected one—usually based on what you (or you and your team) perceived to be the one that the people in your target market NEEDED.
The First Problem
Now, in that short analysis, there were two quantumly large/huge mistakes made (and these two mistakes are made every day in all kinds of companies in all kinds of industries).
- You (or you and your team) started with you (and what you thought). And
- You (or you and your team) focused your solution(s) based on what you believe the people in your target market NEEDED.
Both of those decisions have serious negative consequences. The first issue is a problem because the orientation is completely and totally wrong. Any time we start designing a new product or service for the people in our target market by beginning the conversation with us and what we think—we’re automatically making a mistake.
Why? Because the goal of creating a new product or service is not to create a new product or service, it’s to sell a new product or service. Since you and I aren’t the ones who will be shelling out our hard-earned cash for this new product, we shouldn’t start with us and what we think—we should start with them and what they think.
Furthermore, everyone suffers from transference and projection. We all project ourselves and our viewpoints on to others. For example, I was talking with someone in church ministry the other day and they were talking about how their church was thinking about doing a series on parenting. Now, at first glance, that sounds reasonable. Church + Parenting = Obvious Topic .
But I followed up and asked, “Have you looked at the 2010 census data from your community?” Answer: No. So I went online and found out that for this community, the answer was, “Only 27.2% of households in their community had children under the age of 18 living with them (which, by definition means that 72.8% didn’t have children under 18 living with them).
In addition, of that 27.2%, only 15% were households with a traditional husband and wife, while 12.2% were single households. Or to make this more clear, the actual data for this community showed that 85% of the people in that community were not traditional families with children under the age of 18 living with them (a rather large number).
However, what is true of most senior pastors and their staff teams? They’re mostly made up of traditional husband-wife families and frequently still have children under the age of 18 living with them. Since that’s their point of reference, what do you think they PROJECT onto their communities? Exactly, that most people are just like them (though the stats say that 85% aren’t like them). So why would a church ever want to come up with a solution that’s only relevant to 15% of their target market (and push away 85%)?
Now, lest we be too hard on pastors, don’t we all do this? Haven’t you done this—projected your own ideas onto others that weren’t really reflective of them—except in your mind?
The Second Problem
The second problem is that when we do come up with products and services we often focus on what we perceive the people in our target market NEED. Now, why is that such a problem? Because people don’t buy what they NEED, they buy what they WANT (and there’s one more degree beyond that answer that I’ll get to in a moment).
Everyone needs to eat healthy, most don’t. Everyone needs relational intimacy, few do. Everyone needs to manage their resources well and to live within their means, most don’t. Every leader needs to learn how to cast vision well, most don’t. Every leader needs to create plans to translate vision into reality, most don’t. Every leader needs a coach, few do. On and on we could go. Most people know what they need, but they don’t do or get or buy what they need. They just don’t.
Instead, what do they do? They do what they want to do. And what do they buy? They buy what they want to buy! Yes, they could buy a healthy meal, but what do they buy? The unhealthy meal. Even if you or I intellectually know this to be true, we often operate as if we don’t.
For example, I did that last year (even though I teach people not to do this. Ugh!). I was working with a number of clients on their ability to leverage others to free themselves up so they could focus on bigger issues and to help accelerate the growth of their businesses (i.e. they needed to learn how to delegate more effectively). All of them were terrible at it (they were dumping, not delegating). So when it came time to create a new product I thought, “Hey, for the people in my target market, this is something that they all need.”
Even better, the clients I was working with, were seeing tremendous results using the material I had developed for them (note: that’s not marketing speak, they really were). So I concluded, “If the owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs in my target market are mostly dumpers, not delegators—then this information would meet a rather important and critical NEED in their lives. It could help free up their time, reduce conflict, improve their communication and coaching skills, accelerate the growth of their businesses, etc. Yes, I should create this product on delegation. And I’ll call it “Delegation Mastery: How to Stop Dumping and Start Delegating Like a Pro.”
So, I spent weeks putting it all together. I did more research, designed the program, created a course book, put together some worksheets, hired designers, recorded the product, created a slide show, made a video of the program, bought a domain name, created a website, installed membership software to protect the content, and I did all of this without ever asking the critical question, “Does anyone in my target market really WANT this (not NEED this)?” Oops! Lesson learned … once again.
But It Goes One Step Further
In other words, there is one step beyond WANT. And what is that one step? That one step is that people are most likely to part with their cash when we create products and services that they … URGENTLY WANT.
In other words, Joe may NEED a gym membership ($600/year) so he can work out regularly and get in the shape he wants to be in for this summer. Joe may WANT a new 46″ TV ($400-$800) for his man cave. But what he URGENTLY WANTS is a new 32 gig black wi-fi iPad ($599). Which one do you think he’s going to buy?
That little distinction between WANTS and URGENT WANTS is huge—and very few businesses take it seriously. But what if they did? What if you did? What could that mean for you and your bottom line?
So Where To From Here?
The title of this post was about two tweaks. So here they are.
- Stop starting with you and what you think. Start with them. Start with who you’re creating your product or service for. Get real data on them. Talk to them. Get to know them and what they’re thinking and feeling. Know them inside out. Assume nothing!
- Focus on their URGENT WANTS. Move past needs and even wants. Spend your time coming up with products and services that your target market URGENTLY wants and you’ll never look back again.
At the end of the day, if your products and/or services aren’t selling, chances are you’ve made one of these two mistakes (starting with you and focusing on NEED). If you want to turn that around, then start with them and focus on URGENT WANTS. If you’ll do that, you’ll never have to worry about making payroll again.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you want to be a better leader/delegator (and not a dumper), then you really ought to check out Delegation Mastery: How to Stop Dumping and Start Delegating Like a Pro. I know it’s not an urgent want, but it just might change the way you lead for the rest of your life. So if that matters to you, you ought to check it out!