One of the biggest challenges any business – large or small – faces is new product creation or the refinement of existing product lines.
Making any change to a beloved product WILL result in somebody getting their feelings hurt and lamenting the loss of some “great” product or service. The same holds true for “improving” underperforming items – the naysayers are going to tell you how you’re putting lipstick on a pig, or your tweaks aren’t enough, and so on.
…And business is FILLED with examples of updated products that caused all sorts of challenges: “New” Coke in the 1980s, Bud Light cans with a certain image on them earlier this year, Ford’s introduction of a weird EV SUV with a “Mustang” badge on it.
How about new products that flunked?
Hardee’s selling fried chicken?
GMC Trucks introducing four-wheel steering for their Denali-level trucks and SUVs?
Cadillac’s laughable “Cimmaron” entry-level coupe from the 1980s?
Samsung’s foldable phone.
Now, lest you think that only large companies roll out mistakes – we see it all the time, especially in the smallest of small businesses. Granted, most of those mistakes result in wasted time and money, but plenty of them drive a would-be business owner or entrepreneur back into the corporate grind. In the end, the same thing that made, say, Windows 8 a failure affects small businesses, too.
…And a large enough sample size to ensure any R and D into a new product line or service offering will recoup and bring in new money.
It’s not enough to ask a few clients what they need randomly. You’ve really got to get granular.
What are they struggling with?
What do they really need?
How much would they spend to fix the issue?
How much time are they willing to spend to get to a particular “happily ever after?”
Ultimately, you also need to know why it’s important to them.
As an example, over the last few months, I’ve spent a LOT of time down the rabbit hole on AI, especially with deployment and programming to truly capture a real voice and an ideal client’s true needs, based on the data set we import into the conversation. No, it’s not simply a “ask a question and AI spits out a fully formed solution.”
Yet, when I broach the subject with clients, prospects, and customers, inevitably, they think only of some 2106-era ChatBot, droll “if/then” programming, and the robot that directs their call when they have a customer service issue with a large company.
Does that mean we’ve wasted our time learning about AI?
Nope. It’s given us a lot of tools to use internally, but it’s brought into very sharp focus how important it is that ANY product or service your business is investigating HAS to rely on feedback, both from your existing clients, your prospects, and the ideal client this product should serve.
Like the survey we created above. We listened to our clients about what they wanted – and more importantly needed – and used some off-the-shelf software (and a dash of AI) to create it. Will it replace one-on-one conversation with prospects?
Not at all, but it WILL serve as an opener for those conversations.
…And you can (and should!) do the same.
Not only will it prevent you from wasting time and money developing products that aren’t of interest to “your” tribe, it will also give you great ideas on products you might never have contemplated – and ones your clients are actively looking for.
You can check out how we structured our survey right here (and take it, please), and we’d be happy to share how easy it was to create. Enjoy, and let’s talk about all this once you’ve checked out the survey.