We all know that in order to establish a successful business you need to focus on delivering a solution to your target market.
A product or service that addresses a problem, enhances their experience, or enables them to feel good while identifying with the life they aspire to.
All too often though what starts out as a strong customer-centric focus, with a product or service solution being developed to meet that need, quickly evolves into a product or service centric focus, where understanding the customer is diluted by the need to label, generalise and categorise customers.
It’s the simplest and most obvious means we know to develop, market and grow the business and the typical steps are:
- Create a profile of your ideal customer.
- Devise a means to communicate with others that match that profile.
- Scope the features and differentiation points about your product or service and align those with your customer profile.
- Pour your efforts and marketing budget into creating brand awareness and trying to convince your target market that your product or service meet their needs better than your competitors can.
The expectation is that they’ll buy it, just like your existing customers did.
The reality is this approach takes a lot of time and expense to pursue and the outcome is a bit hit and miss.
Some of them will buy, and some of them won’t, because at the end of the day your strategy is based on a generalisation and one that’s probably not powerful enough to stand out among all the claims your customers have to sift through, process and evaluate.
After all, your competitors are basing their marketing on similar claims and generalisations to capture and maintain their portion of market share.
For start-ups, who have limited resources, this approach can be costly and more often than not doomed to failure.
There is a better and simpler way to look at this.
In their article Marketing Malpractice (Harvard Business Review, December 2005) Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall introduced the concept of customers hiring products and services to help them get “jobs” done.
For example, customers buy a drill to help them do the job of creating a hole. It is the need to complete a job that drives the buying decision.