Think about the cus­tomer

Medicine Hat News - - BUSINESS - Christie Dick

It’s sim­ple. If you don’t have a cus­tomer, you don’t have a busi­ness.

Cus­tomers are the key to a grow­ing and start­ing a suc­cess­ful ven­ture. It mat­ters not that you have a pas­sion for your prod­uct, or that you think peo­ple will buy it — it mat­ters most that cus­tomers ac­tu­ally want what you have to of­fer and that what you of­fer, solves a prob­lem for them.

It’s not easy to think about your busi­ness or your prod­uct of­fer­ing from the per­spec­tive of the cus­tomer. But it’s well worth the time it takes to do it. A re­cent Si­mon-Kucher and Part­ners statis­tic states that about 72 per cent of new prod­ucts and ser­vices fail to gain trac­tion in the mar­ket­place. This means that po­ten­tial cus­tomers don’t care about seven out of 10 new prod­ucts in­tro­duced to them.

Here are three easy ways to think about the cus­tomer when de­sign­ing new prod­ucts or reimag­in­ing your cur­rent busi­ness of­fer­ings:

No. 1 Break out the Busi­ness Model Can­vas - Value Propo­si­tion Tool

This hands-on tool can be found at www.strat­e­gyzer.com and al­lows you to vi­su­al­ize, de­sign and test your new prod­uct ideas. Work­ing through the process, it al­lows you to ad­dress who your cus­tomer is, what jobs they want done and high­lights what pains or prob­lems they face; help­ing you to shape your prod­uct of­fer­ing around the cus­tomer.

No. 2 Think about what job the cus­tomer is try­ing to hire to get done

This is a to­tally dif­fer­ent way of think­ing about cus­tomer needs and wants. The con­cept most no­tably shared by Har­vard pro­fes­sor Clay­ton Chris­tensen, pushes you to ask this ques­tion: I won­der what job the cus­tomer has in mind that he or she wants to hire for? This con­cept was used by McDon­ald's to bet­ter un­der­stand and im­prove their milk­shake sales with suc­cess.

No. 3 Get to know your cus­tomers on a per­sonal level

It’s easy to use quick de­mo­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion found on the web to de­fine your cus­tomer, but this in­for­ma­tion is only a small piece of the cus­tomer puz­zle. Psy­cho­graph­ics, the per­son­al­ity traits, in­ter­ests, opin­ions and life­style choices of the cus­tomer, open up op­por­tu­ni­ties to find in­no­va­tive ways to ad­dress cus­tomer mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. When com­bined with de­mo­graphic data, psy­cho­graphic or quan­ti­ta­tive re­search, helps to con­nect with prospec­tive cus­tomers per­son­ally.

Delv­ing deeply into po­ten­tial cus­tomer views, needs, prob­lems and jobs they are hir­ing for, does take sig­nif­i­cant work. How­ever, a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur al­ways con­sid­ers the cus­tomer, and their prob­lems, first. This think­ing is of­ten what makes them suc­cess­ful and can be what dif­fer­en­ti­ates their ven­ture from the com­pe­ti­tion.

The MHC En­tre­pre­neur De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre helps stu­dent and alumni bring their en­trepreneur­ship dreams to life. We of­fer one-on-one coach­ing, train­ing, men­tor­ship and ac­cess to a di­verse net­work of startup fund­ing. To con­nect into our net­work email edc@mhc.ab.ca or call 403-502-8433.

Christie Dick is an en­tre­pre­neur ad­vi­sor at Medicine Hat Col­lege and the APEX En­trepreneur­ship In­cu­ba­tor.

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