Know your product?

Business success is dependant upon providing a product or service that is valued by the marketplace thereby creating a recurring demand that perpetuates the business.  Unfortunately many businesses loose sight of what the product or service is that the market values.  As a result their market potential falls short of what it could be and may, in the end, result in a withdrawal from the market or worse – going out of business!

We all know those businesses that we like to buy from.  It is interesting that similar or like products are available in the marketplace but we exercise our preference and are drawn to one vendor over another.  Is that magic or random selection?  Most likely it is by “intelligent” design.

The product you are buying is not just the physical package that you walk out the door with or have delivered to your front door.  It is much more!  The business that you “think” you have chosen to buy from has made an investment in reaching you as the customer, which extends well beyond just price and basic product features.

Successful business know and perform the following very well:

  • How to position the product in a way that attracts your attention.
  • How to make the selection and purchase decision easy and satisfying.
  • How to package like products that will make it easier to “bundle” products creating more value.
  • Provide a comfortable “purchase” environment (in store, catalog, online) where you can see yourself with or using the proposed product.
  • An easy method to resolve questions and or, if necessary, exchange the product without question with a full money back guarantee.

Product design then includes far more than the basic product features, color, feel, speeds and feeds, etc.  The design of a product or family of products goes well beyond the core features that you are trying to acquire. Examples:

  • Apple: ipod, ipad. iphone: Bringing mobile utility to where you want to use it. Size, function and utility are maximized creating a sharp demand for access to data, people, and information by all ages for a wide range of uses.
  • Costco: Low cost household products in large sizes.
  • Boeing: Reliable, configurable, efficient aircraft for commercial airlines.
  • REI: Outdoor recreation apparel and equipment sold by knowledgeable people in an appropriate setting.
  • Google: Network search and related functionality (mail, calendar, web efficiency, blogging, etc.) – one-stop-network-function-shopping – for desktops and mobile devices.
  • Les Schwab: Quality tire service coupled with friendly and speedy service.

How does your “product” offering compare?  The companies listed above did not stumble into how to produce a strong product to the market.  They worked at understanding what makes the customer want and purchase their product.  This is done in many ways:

  • Customer surveys.
  • One-on-one conversations
  • Personal observations.
  • Professional consulting

Compiling feedback and processing it into product (and even business model) changes can be difficult because it may conflict with internal assumptions held by key people.  Effective company leadership will create an environment where the internal resistance to change will be dealt with clearing the way for customer centric values to then permeate the organization leading to changes that will benefit the customer and grow the company.

If your view of why customers buy your product is limited by internal perspectives then get help!

  • Do a 360 assessment of your business. Product and organization to make sure it is aligned to serve the customer.
  • Use employees (non-management), current customers, and customer prospects to understand how effective your product is in stimulating decisions to buy.
  • Process the results in a timely manner and formulate actions that you can install in the short term.
  • Measure the results of the changes to your product.

We can become myopic (near sighted) in the view of our business and the market in which we sell.  As much as we measure the process of getting a product into the market we also need to measure and understand the customer side of process that results in them selecting your product over the competitions.

Know your product!

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