When we're in pursuit of vastly superior product and services, we're unconsciously exalting ourselves. The market will eventually humble us with its indifference, abuses and successes of some overrated/inferior competition. These setbacks prepare us for a third approach to coming up with business ideas. It's time to attune to our customers when they are not shopping, but rather valuing what they have already purchased. If we could get into the customers' heads, we might find:
- they see the marketplace and rival offerings differently with different frames of reference (beauty is in the eye of the beholder)
- they feel apprehensive about their ability to make a good decision amidst so much sales hype (establishing a need for consumer advocacy)
- they have changed their minds about what they really wanted after buying what they assumed they needed (defining a migration path to explore with them)
- they endured several bad experiences with prior purchases which taint their outlook toward this expenditure (calling for added comfort and safety)
- they use what they've bought differently than we designed for or promoted when we sold it (as if they bought our tools for their own varied uses)
- they value the relationship with us more than the actual purchase (wanting to trust us, to respect us and to rely on us to return the favor)
- they live in contexts which pose different problems and define different needs than our own (providing opportunities to address the fit in to their situations)
- they interact with their social gathering known for spewing opinions about questionable purchases (posing a need for allies in the fight for acceptance)
- they experience difficulties with owning, transporting, storing, maintaining and/or repairing what they've bought (creating opportunities for service after the sale)
- they have a lot to learn to make more and better use of their existing inventory of purchases (valuing genuine assistance more than sales persistence)
When we discover these kinds of issues troubling the minds of our customers, we're set up to make a better difference. We can change from selling added services to being of service to them. We can abandon our own power trip and find ways to empower our customers. We can learn from buyers who teach us how to better serve them, rather than doing all the selling ourselves. We can show how well we know our customers by addressing their concerns, working with their applications and helping put their minds at ease. We can do more to nurture the relationships with buyers rather than exclusively refine the products and value-added services. Being in business changes from the enduring the daily grind to an ongoing mystery with fascinating discoveries, revelations and new questions.
You may have noticed with approach to coming up with business ideas is a lot more complex than either prior approach. Each customer appears unique. One size no longer fits all. There's so much more besides the product and services to customize. The work involved can be overwhelming. This approach can feel like too big a sacrifice or a martyrdom trip. When it becomes an obvious lose/win deal after so much success with attuning to the customers, it's time for the fourth approach to coming up with business ideas.