Finding and targeting the market problems
“ ... visit customers — both your customers and customers of your competitors. ”
You've probably joked about this: "Build it, and they will come." This rarely works for baseball diamonds in corn fields, and almost never is a good idea for designing and marketing products and services. Your customers know what problems they need solved, and if you understand these market problems and target them with your solution you'll be able to turn your ideas into revenue easier.
In defining your distinctive competence, you identified your ability to deliver value to the market. In defining market problems, you now want to understand what unsolved or partially solved problems exist in your customer's business. How well do you really know what problems your customers have, and how they go about solving them? Don't assume too much — you may be missing the real problems or better possible solutions.
The best way to uncover market problems is to visit customers — both your customers, and customers of your competitors. You can find out a lot with a few questions, and you don't need a lengthy survey to do it. The next time you visit a customer, try some of these questions.
- What do they think of your company?
- How do they find out about trends in their market?
- What do they like and not like about the products they are using?
- What are the key problems they face?
- What are the alternatives for solving these problems?
- Who are your competitors for the customer's business?
Another great source of customer data is the folks that have been selling for you, either directly or in your channels. They may have heard about a problem that keeps cropping up that competitors don't solve. Or they can see that you are getting called into a particular situation often and have some insight into how customers view you as solving the problem.
Embedify can help clarifying what market problems you should address. We will look for patterns in your current business, and use our industry experience to see what similar problems exist. After listing the market problems in your target segment, we'll score them on relative urgency, pervasiveness and the willingness of customers to pay for a solution. The set of higher scoring market problems becomes the target set for aligning your solutions.
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Polish your distinctive competence
Having a clear understanding of your customers and clearly defining market problems before defining the next set of products or services will help make sure your development efforts are focused and your marketing messages are more effective.