Product Development — Liber8me

Business Mentor Tip #78 – Watch for changing paradigms

Although I teach business owners to set an end goal for their business and plot milestones back today, I always add the rule that you must stop and review your plan every year.  Yes do the macro work and aim for the big picture.  But keep your detailed planning for each year ahead. Attempting to plan action steps with any accuracy any further out than twelve months is not realistic, in my view.  Things are changing too fast these days and we are not supplied with a crystal ball.  Technology in particular is changing the business landscape faster than we can keep up with – the way we do things today will not be the way we will do things in a year or even in six months time.

Just look at good old telephone directories.  When was the last time you used a physical copy of a directory to find something?  If you are anything like me the answer to that question would be ‘years ago’.  Why would you bother with a hefty directory when you can ‘Google’ what you are looking for and have the answer at your fingertips in seconds, without getting up from your computer.  Printed directories have been money for jam for years and years, charging exorbitant amounts to advertisers to promote their business within the hallowed pages.  But now we don’t need them anymore.  Search engines such as Google have created a new paradigm for finding the person or business you are looking for.  Phone directories must now re-invent … and it isn’t easy.  They have been slow to realise their targets were based on a dying market and have a lot of work to do to ever find that lost market share again.  It’s the same story for the traditional post office.  Just take a look at the dramatic drop in mail volume for the United States in 2009.

This decline is continuing.  Of course we all use email now for our personal and business communication. I have not sent an invoice in the mail for years, have you? To survive, postal companies all around the world have to find a new model.  Any business plan they may have had prior to 2009 must be changed dramatically.

So look to the future and build a broad plan to get there.  But be sure to review your plan every year and keep an eye closely on the trends.  Always ask youself what the paradigm for your industry is and how could it be changing?  Better yet, find a way to be the one to change the paradigm yourself!

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

Business Mentor Tip #73 – If you build it will they come? @drrobadams

 ”If you build it will they come?” is the title of a new book by Rob Adams.  I attended a workshop taken by Rob last week and was impressed enough to make it my next business mentor tip.  Forgive me Rob if my interpretation of your material in any way undersells it!

The key to successful business is having a product or service that enough people will buy to meet your financial targets.  Many (dare I say most) business start out with what Rob calls the ‘ready, fire, fire,fire, aim’ approach which typically goes like this.  Think of a product/service idea that you think people will love, get it ready for market, dress it up in the way you believe your target audience will find attractive and then attempt to sell it.  When sales don’t meet targets you re-visit your sales strategy and try again.  And again.  Sound familiar?

Well think again.  Surely a way to increase your chances of selling people what they want will increase if you ask them what they want and then deliver it to them in the way they want to receive it?  Or in other words as Rob Adams says … ’ready, aim, fire’.

This is called market validation.  In essense this means that you go out to your market and find out what their problems are first.  Then you develop the product or solution that will meet those problems better than anything else out there.  You get it right before you invest in development and marketing.  It sounds so logical doesn’t it?

So how do you validate your market?  In Rob’s book ‘If you build it will they come?” he takes you through the methods and steps involved.  But before you rush off and buy it, I’ll share the tip he gave us at the workshop:

Before you launch anything new - a new product or service/a new brand or a new campaign – call up 100 people who represent your target market and ask them what they really need.   In Business Mentor Tip #63 – Gather Your Insights I gave you a list of questions that a someone developing a new business planning tool might ask.

In these questions you are looking for the problem to solve.  What frustrates people?  What annoys them with current options?  What are they trying to do that your product or service could make easier for them?  It’s all about easing pain.  Find the pain and offer the solution.  Ask questions that give you meaningful answers to help design your products and marketing campaigns to meet the need.

The added bonus is that people will pay more for something that makes them feel better.  If you can give them what they really want, they are happy to pay for it.

So… as you think about your product development and marketing from now on, remember, Ready, Aim, Fire!

You can buy your copy of Rob’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/You-Build-Will-They-Come/dp/047056363X

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.