December 15th, 2017

Business Beat: Think about the customer

By Medicine Hat News on November 15, 2017.

It’s simple. If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a business.

Customers are the key to a growing and starting a successful venture. It matters not that you have a passion for your product, or that you think people will buy it — it matters most that customers actually want what you have to offer and that what you offer, solves a problem for them.

It’s not easy to think about your business or your product offering from the perspective of the customer. But it’s well worth the time it takes to do it. A recent Simon-Kucher and Partners statistic states that about 72 per cent of new products and services fail to gain traction in the marketplace. This means that potential customers don’t care about seven out of 10 new products introduced to them.

Here are three easy ways to think about the customer when designing new products or reimagining your current business offerings:

No. 1 Break out the Business Model Canvas – Value Proposition Tool

This hands-on tool can be found at http://www.strategyzer.com and allows you to visualize, design and test your new product ideas. Working through the process, it allows you to address who your customer is, what jobs they want done and highlights what pains or problems they face; helping you to shape your product offering around the customer.

No. 2 Think about what job the customer is trying to hire to get done

This is a totally different way of thinking about customer needs and wants. The concept most notably shared by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, pushes you to ask this question: I wonder what job the customer has in mind that he or she wants to hire for? This concept was used by McDonald’s to better understand and improve their milkshake sales with success.

No. 3 Get to know your customers on a personal level

It’s easy to use quick demographical information found on the web to define your customer, but this information is only a small piece of the customer puzzle. Psychographics, the personality traits, interests, opinions and lifestyle choices of the customer, open up opportunities to find innovative ways to address customer market opportunities. When combined with demographic data, psychographic or quantitative research, helps to connect with prospective customers personally.

Delving deeply into potential customer views, needs, problems and jobs they are hiring for, does take significant work. However, a successful entrepreneur always considers the customer, and their problems, first. This thinking is often what makes them successful and can be what differentiates their venture from the competition.

The MHC Entrepreneur Development Centre helps student and alumni bring their entrepreneurship dreams to life. We offer one-on-one coaching, training, mentorship and access to a diverse network of startup funding. To connect into our network email edc@mhc.ab.ca or call 403-502-8433.

Christie Dick is an entrepreneur advisor at Medicine Hat College and the APEX Entrepreneurship Incubator.

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