Determining Your Product Concept [Start Up Your Startup]
Your product or service will be the heart of your company—of critical importance, but certainly not the only critical element.
The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that just because you like the product, everyone else will. False. Customers are the best resource for defining and creating new products: as soon as you have something, get it into the hands of customers to see what they think. You have to care about your customers, and your product should cater to their needs—not the other way around.
Consumers are within reach today more than ever. With the Internet and social media, you can easily reach consumers directly. If you want to know how consumers feel about certain products, just check out the reviews on Amazon or other online retailers. Users will usually explain what they love, what they hate, and what they wish was available in the product. What are people talking about on Facebook and Twitter? You can learn so much about your market online—use this information to your advantage.
Your customers are human beings, and it’s critical to communicate and build relationships with them. Just talking to them isn’t enough—every good marketer knows that customers aren’t always honest. If you haven’t established a relationship with the customer, they may be reluctant to tell you everything.
For example, when we meet someone in public we tend to ask how they’re doing. We expect a simple response: “I’m doing well, how are you?” We don’t expect the person to explain everything that’s going wrong in their life: “Well, not so good. I got into a fender bender this morning on the way to work, my cat died last night, and my mom is in the hospital.” It’s no different with customers. It takes time to get customers to open up about their problems.
Once you’ve gotten to know your customers and potential customers, you can develop and evolve your product concept according to their needs. Things will change, so be ready.
This post is part of our ongoing Start Up Your Startup series.