focusing on the right customer and avoiding the prickly ones

Most pundits will tell you to identify a clear market segment for your product without which there is no real need to build a product. As simple and valid as the recommendation is, it really is a flawed recommendation. If you really want your product to sell and the customers to buy your product, the real question one should be asking is, “Why should a customer buy my product?” If you think about it, as simple as the question is, it is one of the most difficult to answer. Simply because it questions the value of your solution, the need for your product, the reason for your existence.

So, how do you determine the value of your solution that drives need for your product and creates an opportunity for your existence? The answer lies in 3 simple truths:

  1. Understanding the problem you are trying to solve
  2. Defining how your solution is going to solve the problem
  3. Identifying if the problem is big enough for your solution

The interesting thing about the 3 questions is that all of them help you understand who your target market is going to be. In other words, customers.

First, understanding the fundamental problem you are trying to solve is critical to the core reason why your product or company should exist. If you cannot simplify the problem statement into a simple sentence, then you will have a fundamental issue with customers not understanding why you exist.

Second, defining how your solution will solve the problem will help you determine the longevity of your solution. Differently said, solving the problem is not good enough for your organization or for your product. The real reason customers are interested in your solution is if your product can continue to evolve with the problems.

And lastly, the problem should be big enough for you to enter the market with a potential solution. Having competition in the market is good. In fact, one of my managers always reminded me, “competition always gives you the opportunity to carve out a niche in the marketplace. Until the day you have exhausted all options or have no more value to provide, you should find a way to differentiate.

If you are starting out as a product manager or are have been in the business for a long time, it is always good to remember that solutions exist to problems not because they solve them, but because of the value they provide for the customer who buys them. Keep focused on your customers and keep a keen eye towards to always understanding the market problems, know your market segment, and determine your distinctive competitiveness.

Photo by digisnapper (george) / CC BY

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