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Who is your target customer?

  • Determine your target customer using standard demographics like age, gender, annual income, plus deep demographics like where they hang out, how they speak, what do they like, where do they spend money, what do they drive, where did they go to school, etc.
  • What are three unique identifiers of your target customer?
  • What challenges or pain points do your targets have?
  • What type of questions are they asking you?
  • Select 5 to 10 keywords and key phrases that your targets use in their vernacular and what they search online.

What problem do you want to solve for your customer?

  • IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM: This is critical. You must try to solve the right problem. Don’t try to solve a problem the customer sees as low priority or unimportant. Identify the right problem by asking the right questions and observing. You cannot identify the customer’s problems by presenting your solution. What’s leading the customer to feel there is a problem? Is it something specific or is it an intuitive sense that things aren’t as they should be? Can the customer define the problem?
  • ANALYZE THE PROBLEM: How often does the problem occur? How severe is it? Are there any special circumstances that are present when it occurs? What might be the causes of the problem? Can you rule out any causes? How long has it been going on? Has it gotten worse? How is the problem affecting other processes or people?

When does the problem occur and why it is urgent?

  • STARTING WITH EXISTING DATA: You most likely have existing data at your fingertips. Review past surveys, and customer interviews. There’s no point in funding an extensive and expensive research campaign if the data you need is already collected, and available for free.
  • INTERVIEWING STAKEHOLDERS: Why not begin with the data you don’t have to pay for: the collective knowledge stakeholders have. They know the industry, the problems experienced, and your target customer.
  • MAPPING THE CUSTOMER PROCESS: If you know your customer’s process, map it out. For example, before Uber, to get a ride you called a taxi company, waited to reach a dispatcher, waited for a car to be dispatched, hoped the driver would find you, and hoped you had enough cash when you reached your destination. With Uber, you open your smartphone and summon the nearest car with one tap; you already know how far away the car is because you can see it in real-time on a map. The driver also sees your location so he or she can come right to you.
  • INTERVIEWING CUSTOMERS: Go right to the source: Ask your target customers what problems they have and what solutions they want. Even when customers can’t articulate their needs clearly, you can often gain insights that lead to successful innovations.
  • CONDUCTING SURVEYS: Use surveys to collect data from your target customers about the problems they experience and their expectations of an ideal solution. Use a mix of open- and closed-ended questions to see what produces the most useful data. Although customers aren’t necessarily good at identifying their needs, this type of survey often yields data from which you can discern customer goals, challenges, pain-points, problems, attitudes, and expectations, and then can design a solution from your conclusion.
  • ANALYZING EXISTING PLAYERS: Do some research on the existing players in the industry where the problem you’ve identified exists. These players may become your competition if you decide to enter the industry. Consider using the SWOT rule to identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • ANALYZING THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM: No one will disagree that it’s usually good to think positively, but sometimes, negative thinking can solve problems more effectively. Through observations, surveys, and other data sources, you may find that the problem you’ve identified is actually just a symptom of another root cause problem.

What would make the life of your customer easier?

  • BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER: Pay attention. Listen to your target customer. By listening intently to what your customers are saying, you understand the problem they’re experiencing much better. No one knows the problem better than them, because they are the ones unhappy with the situation. So, listen to every word they have to say, and ask yourself, “What will make them happy?”
  • DEMONSTRATE HOW THE CURRENT SOLUTION ISN’T GOOD: Some people are used to a less-than-ideal solution because they have been using it for a very long time, and even if it’s less-than-ideal, it has grown to become their new normal. Demonstrate to such a person how the current hack is ineffective, inaccurate, time-consuming, energy-draining, expensive, inconvenient, or inefficient. Show them the qualities of an ideal solution, and how exactly an ideal solution will better their lives.

You should be able to answer these questions

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What problem do you want to solve for your customer?
  • When does the problem occur and why it is urgent?
  • What would make the life of your customer easier?

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