February 17, 2015

A spanner and a hammer?


The smart money is on making products and services that exactly meet the demands of customer problems. You design features to make customers more effective or efficient or successful. You do your best to deliver the value you think they want. Products do well if they do their job well enough to keep customers happy.

Match value

The secret is matching your value proposition to your customers’ need.

But customers have a funny old habit of using products in ways that we’ve never thought of – they’ll knock in a nail with a spanner if they don’t have a hammer on hand.

Chinese gaming platform, yy.com, added high quality audio so it’s gamers could talk to each other during online role playing. Gamers used the audio for talking, but more used it to sing karaoke. YY paid attention, added karaoke specific features, and spawned an entirely new revenue stream.

Pay attention

If you put value out into the world, customers will find a way to use it for their own ends. They’ll co-opt it, bend it, blend it – whatever it takes to do the job they want it to do.

The secret then is to match your value proposition to your customers needs and then pay attention to what happens next.

At worst you’ll find ways to make your products a slightly better fit to customer needs. But it’s possible that you’ll find the next big thing.

The odds are on your side. There are more of your customers than there are of you. Find ways to see what they’re doing and get inside their heads for an endless source of ideas. For new features, new product and new adventures.

Skippy Strategy: Call ten customers to find out exactly what they do with your product and how they use it. What’s not obvious, what’s not what it was designed for, what’s the unusual stuff? Mine for ideas.