When I talk with people regarding their product, they’ll say something similar to this, “I want to make this product…” I usually stop them at this point and say, “Okay, that’s fine. I get it. I understand it. And you might even be good at it and might know how to do the whole thing, but the question is, does your market want it?”
The golden key to everything is understanding your market and what it wants.
I’m guilty of not always knowing what the market wants. Sometimes I just don’t understand the market. We’re all guilty of it.
Take Twitter, for example: if the developers had come to me and said, “we’re thinking of creating a service where you can post stuff, but we’ll limit the post size to only a certain number of characters, and we’re going to call it Twitter.” I would have tried to talk them out of it.
It wasn’t for my market and I didn’t understand the market they were going after, so it sounded stupid to me. Fortunately, for them, they knew their market and are very successful.
The Chia pet is another example where the developers took something that sounds ridiculous and had resounding success with it. They knew their market and what it would buy. They knew how to approach and sell to that market.
The point is, your market dictates what they are going to buy and conversely, what they are not going to buy. In my case, I am very lucky because I am my market.
I’m not sure about you and your market but even in cases like mine, where I am the market, there are still a couple of ques- tions
- What are the problems your market has? (These will also be the problems you are having.) What’s causing them pain?
- What does your market want? (What will make their life easier?)
Here’s a unique way at looking at what your market wants… your market is either running away from something or running towards something. In other words, they are running away from pain or they are running towards something they really want (i.e. pain or pleasure).
When looking for problems to solve look for recurring problems. Is it an hourly, daily, monthly, or annual problem? The more frequent the problem occurs, the greater their desire for a solution. If someone bumps their knee, they have pain but forget about it when to pain goes away. But if their knee hurts all the time, they will look for a solution.
We need to come up with a product that helps them with a recurring problem. The greater the frequency of the problem, the more desperate they are for a solution.
The pain can be big or small. You can’t rule out the small things. There can be a very big need for simple solutions. Look at the paper clip—you can’t get much simpler than it. I’m sure Johan Vaaler made a fortune with the invention and patenting the paper clip around the year 1900.
It was just a simple bent piece of wire, but it solved a big recur- ring problem for a large market—anyone who needed to keep multiple sheets of paper together.
What’s important to remember is don’t place judgement on the problem because it’s big or small, especially if the solution is simple.