A client recently emailed me asking for my advice.
He had an idea for a new service and wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea or not.
My answer was… ”Maybe… or maybe NOT!”
I explained that I was the wrong person to ask, and that the only people who could legitimately answer that question were his potential clients.
I suggested that instead of guessing what they want, that he instead ran a survey and simply asked his email subscribers what they actually wanted.
Now there a numerous ways to run surveys.
I told him he could at the very least brainstorm a list of product ideas, and ask them to choose their favourite.
That way he would discover what the majority of his email subscribers wanted before starting work on it.
That simple approach is much better than guessing.
The beauty of that approach is you actually involve them in the development process – and as a result they will be even more likely to buy it when you launch.
Surveying is super easy to do, but as business owners we sometimes get so caught up in what we do, it’s all too easy to think we know what our customers want and resort to second guessing.
The Lure of Guessing
I remember one time I had an idea for a new product — I thought my idea was brilliant, and I started work on it with gusto.
However I soon started worrying that no one would want what I was working on.
Unfortunately… I was right!
I ran a survey and gave people 12 ideas for products I was thinking of launching — including the programme I had been working on up to that point.
I didn’t mention in the survey that I was already working on one of the ideas, but of course I was absolutely convinced it was the idea that my audience would love the most.
How wrong I was!
What I had been working on turned out to be one of the least popular choices.
The most popular choice was for something completely different — it was for software that automatically generates sales-lead generation websites.
It was based on that invaluable feedback that I was able to instead invest my time and money developing something people actually wanted, rather than something I thought people wanted.
What a difference.
Thankfully I hadn’t got too far into the development process and the time I had to write off wasn’t too painful, and even better, the software launch was a huge success – simply because it was something the majority of my email subscribers told me they actually wanted.
That experience reminded me of the key marketing tenet…
Trying to sell something people don’t want is a lot harder, time consuming and more expensive than selling something people already want.
Dragon’s Kill The Guessing Inventor
Guesswork seems to be the #1 mistake on popular UK TV show the “Dragon’s Den”.
So many times on that show, an inventor will appear in front of the Dragons to pitch an idea he’s spent years of his life and thousands and thousands of pounds developing.
Sometimes they even admit they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of their own money developing the invention. It’s quite common for them to admit they’ve remortgaged their home.
And then when the pitch finishes, the Dragon’s start picking holes in the idea.
Literally within a few minutes the Dragons can make inventors realise they’ve just wasted years of their lives, and all their money, creating a cure for a non-existing problem.
If you ever watch the show you may recall the chap who invented a ‘device’ to stop cucumbers from drying at the chopped end. (It was a plastic cap.)
It was Duncan Bannatyne who asked him “What’s wrong with using clingfilm?” , and Theo Paphitis who wanted to know “Is this a wind up?”
It would have been funny… if it wasn’t so sad!!
So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can successfully guess what your audience want.
If you’re already developing a new product or service and starting to worry whether anyone will actually want it… STOP!
Email your subscribers and ask them for their feedback, and if it sounds like something they’d be interested in.
Or, do a multiple choice survey like I did, and see if they pick your favourite idea.
Just don’t get upset if the majority ignore your idea. Be thankful they’ve saved you a lot of wasted time and money!
An even better approach to multiple choice is to ask your subscribers ‘What are your biggest pains and challenges?’
That way you’re not spoon-feeding them a preset list of choices. Instead they’ll give you open ended answers which will give you far deeper insight into the actual issues they’re facing… and reveal what you can offer them.
Then, when you start work on developing the new product or service, you’ll be a lot more confident that you’re creating a product or service that will actually sell well.
Asking beats guessing, any day of the week. 🙂
And if you’re wondering – here’s a link to the survey software I use these days.
It’s an amazing service, and it does a lot more than just run surveys!