Flawless should start with a question? How do I make it better? I dare not say perfect…I don’t think perfect was ever used at Apple. They continue to make the product better and better and better each year. So where are the customers; camping out for the latest version. In 2011, a garbage man waited 240 hours for the iPhone4. (The Atlantic, 2011) It’s ceremonial each year. Expectations have been created for that faithful customer and let’s not mention the price tag that comes with it; a price tag that gives one bragging rights is more of an investment to them. Why do they wait- higher demand for the “next generation” phone, preorders, redesign and “social proof.” “Adam Hanft, who works at a New York consulting firm for consumer brands, told Market Watch that shoppers feel validated by a crowd making the same decision as them.” (Herbert, 2014) Consumers anticipate better, not perfect. Better has a place to go, perfect is stuck.
Investors think in terms of getting the product on the shelves. Market placement means profitability. Right? Not Quite. Blank shouts to not ignore the process of “Customer Discovery.” (Blank, 2013, pg.7) “Time after time, only after the first customer ship, do start-ups discover their early customers don’t scale into the mainstream market, the product doesn’t solve a high-value problem, or the cost of distribution is too high…losing scales strategy.” (Pg.7) In any ship-relationship, partnership (yes we are partners with our customers), or business venture, you have to get to know the other party – Listen, learn, relate and value to create repeat consumers.
Ask, Ask, Ask
What problems does your product solve? Do customers perceive these problems as important or “must-have”? How do you reach the customers? How many customers do we need to be profitable? These are just a few of several questions that Blank suggests for start-ups. If the product fails to work, who will stop and fix what’s broken? How well do you understand what problems customers have? How much will they pay to solve those problems? Do we understand the hierarchy of our customers’ needs? Who are your visionary customers (early buyers)? Do you truly understand what you need to be profitable? Are the sales and business plans realistic, scalable, and achievable? (Pg. 8-10)
What is the true reality for your business? Customers are not always right, but they should always be first. Unrealistic expectations are by far a poisonous spur ready to germinate and infest your start-up to the point of suffocating and choking the life out of something that was once alive and breathing. The Customer Development model is based upon, “Learning and discovering who a company’s initial customers will be, and what markets they are in….” I am not talking sales and marketing, rather proving a market exists, validate they will pay for your vision, then capturing that market. (pg. 21)
These are questions to ask for The Four Steps to Epiphany… “Do you have a process for discovering your market, locating your first customer, validating your assumptions and growing your business?” (pg. 24) Next, we will look closer at the four steps: Costumer Discovery, Customer Validation, Customer Creation and Company Building to create the flawless/better product or service.
Blank, Steven G. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win. 2nd ed. California: Steve Blank, 2013.
Gherbert@syracuse.com, G. H. (2014, September 19). IPhone 6 Plus: Why do people wait in line all night for the latest Apple toy? Retrieved February 01, 2017, from http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/09/iphone_6_plus_apple_why_line_up_wait_all_night_syracuse.html
How Long People Waited to Be First in Line to Buy Apple Products. (2011, October 5). Retrieved February 01, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/how-long-people-waited-be-first-line-buy-apple-products/337087/