If you are trying to solve a problem that your customers emphatize with but are NOT actively looking to solve right now, does that indicate that maybe the problem is not that big after all?
Conventional wisdom will say that it is definitaly a possibility. But take a step back and consider another thing:
When a user is not actively looking for a solution to a big problem, it is not that the problem isn’t real. It could instead be that the user, in the absence of obvious solutions, have plain and simple given up for now. And that they are just waiting to discover your solution.
Problems tend to persist. Even if we have (momentarily) given up on solving them.
The other day I met with a startup in need of some advice. They have been working on their offering for a couple of years, and they felt stuck in terms of getting it to market and choosing the right approach.
They showed me their product, and it prompted a conversation about who they have developed the product for, and what they actually, factually know about the customers, they are trying to get to buy into their offering. It was a classic example of solution looking for a problem.
We took a step back and talked about the value proposition based around the Value Proposition Canvas. And when it came to the problem solving real pains for real customers, it was painfully obvious that the biggest issue for them was that there is a disconnect between the customer pain points and how the product looks and welcomes you.
They left with new insights and ideas into how to progress from here. Sometimes it just pays to rewind the clock and look at whether there is a connection for real between needs, pains and gains and the actual product.
I often talk about the need to meet with customers and understand what their needs are. But I also often struggle in getting through with the message of what the real potential of doing so is. So let me try it a slightly different way.
When we sit down with potential customers, or we visit them in their natural environment, we get a chance to ask questions and – most importantly – listen. And when we listen, we get an opportunity to uncover the dreams of our customers.
Dreams are funny. They are for many people characterized by three things: First of all it is something we would really like (to happen), second the acknowledgement that I am not there yet and it is out of reach and third a lingering idea that maybe it will stay a dream forever.
Tuning into the dream will give you the same three things to innovation on: A clear desire, an opportunity to be relevant and – following from that – a chance of creating an epiphany moment for them that they will reward by not only buying, what you have created, but also staying loyal to it. What’s not to like?