Why You Should Ignore What Your Customers Want
Average companies meet their customers’ needs by providing the products and services their customers want. Remarkable companies not only provide the products and services their customers want, but they also provide what their customers WILL want.
Your goal as a business owner should be to successfully provide what your customers want, while at the same time working towards providing what your customers WILL want. Here are three keys to help you focus on providing what customers WILL want and three stories to help illustrate them.
Never Lose Focus and Sliced Bread
Up until July 7, 1928, only a few people in the world wanted to purchase sliced bread. Everyone knew that once you sliced bread, it would dry out within a few hours.
Despite the fact that very few people wanted to purchase sliced bread, Otto Rohwedder devoted 16 years of his life to invent the automatic bread slicer. Otto knew that people would want to purchase sliced bread if he could develop a way to keep the bread from drying out.
To solve this problem, he not only invented the automatic bread-slicing machine, but the machine also included a wrapping system that would keep the sliced bread fresh.
By 1933, for the first time in history, American bakeries produced more sliced than unsliced bread loaves.
There will be setbacks and failures while creating what people WILL want, but the important thing is to stay in the game. Otto Rohwedder spent 16 years of his life trying to build his automatic bread slicer. He experienced countless failures during those 16 years, but he never quit the game, and he never lost focus of the market’s underlying need (the desire for convenient – already sliced – and fresh bread).
What is the underlying problem or desire that my product or service fulfills?
Ignore the Critics and Digital Music
On October 23, 2001, Apple released a product that nobody wanted. Here are a few of the initial reviews for the product:
“Just another silly example of Apple’s Technology, just like the Newton!”1
“This will be the last thing from Apple ever; they’ll never be successful with this.”1
“Apple is going to go bankrupt with this new mp3 player thing. Mp3s are going to be obsolete within the next couple years anyway!”1
When Apple released the iPod, very few people wanted it. After all, who wants (or needs) to carry 1,000 songs around in their pocket? I don’t think I need to tell you that the iPod has been extremely popular, and profitable, for Apple.
In case you need more convincing: back on April 9, 2007, Apple sold their 100 millionth iPod.2 (Yes, you’re right though; sales of the iPod began dropping once they released another new product that very few people wanted on June 29, 2007. You may have heard of it…they named it the iPhone.
The minute you decide to ignore what people want and focus on what people WILL want, the critics will flock to you. Don’t be alarmed. The arrival of critics usually means you’re working on things that matter, things that will make a difference.
Am I willing to endure the critics to solve my prospects/clients’ underlying problems or to fulfill their underlying desire?
Tune Out the Noise and Social Networks
In early 2004, a college student launched a website that would allow his classmates to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet. At the time, only a handful of people wanted to socially interact with others via the Internet.
Yep, you guessed it… the college student was Mark Zuckerberg, and the website he created was called Thefacebook.com. You may know it by its new name – Facebook.
Back in 2004, Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask were all extremely popular. If Mark had been smart, he would have invested his time into building a new search engine; after all, that’s what everyone wanted.
Only kidding! With Facebook valued around $50 billion, I think you’d agree he made a smart decision.
The key difference was that Mark focused not on what people wanted, but instead on what people WILL want.
To get to the heart of your customers’ true needs and problems, you have to learn to ignore all the noise from the marketplace. While the market was busy “going crazy” over search engines, Mark was busy building what people WILL want.
What are the current trends? How are they going to impact my prospects/clients?
So, let me ask… what WILL your customers want? What will be the next “big thing”? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments section below.
1 Review comments from cnet.com.
2 From Apple.com.
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