Any business, on- or offline line must have something to sell. That’s because the essence of business is exchanging value. And value is bound up in helping both the buyer and the seller. Both the buyer and seller are empowered to do something that couldn’t be done without it. In a barter situation, a product or service is traded. More likely, they are sold for money.
What Does Your Buyer Want
Products and services, however, must meet a need, or a want, if you prefer. You can make a fantastic product that has no value to anyone. And that means that it not only needs to be functional in some way, even if only to look at it, there has to be a demand for it. Value is in the eye of the buyer; not the seller. That’s why it’s so important to find out why buyers want: To save you the time and expense of making something that only you will appreciate.
And that’s why you must start by asking yourself what the primary purpose of the product is. You have to know why you’re creating it before you do.
It’s easy to become personally attached to a product or a service, such that you don’t want to subject it to the scrutiny of a buyer. Art is like this. An artist will compose music, paint a picture, sculpt a model of a person. Much passion and commitment goes into creating those things. But if no one wants them, then it has value only to the artist, many of whom are “starving” because of it.
Although it may feel like it, creating products for buyers doesn’t mean that you’re selling out to capitalism. Instead it means that you’re making something that someone else can use.
And that’s why something like market research is so important. You have to know if people are using it already or if it’s something that they want to be able to do.
Doing The Right Kind of Research
The easiest way to do this is to ask them; but finding the right people to ask is more of a challenge.
In the online business world, email lists are created, principally to have someone to market to; but they are also a rich resource for market research. Of course, it may not be possible for beginning Internet marketers to ask those on their list if it is too small to get a representative sample. In the offline world, a typical response rate is about 2%. And if you apply that rate to an email list, then it means that you need 1000 people on it in order to get just 20 replies.
So in the short term, you will have to look for other avenues. One way is to type a question into the search engine. The results you get will lead you to the places where other people are asking the same thing, and where some people, often inadequately, attempt to provide an answer.
How to Organize Your Product So Your Clients Get Results
In order for a product to be valuable to anyone, it has to fill a need. It has to be something that people want. But once you know that, then you have to design your product for the purpose. Much as you may wish it to be otherwise, you have to decide how you will enable your customers to use the information that you provide.
To do that, you need to identify the learning objectives. You have to decide what your clients need to learn, what they need to be able to do, such that when they put it all together they not only know what to do, but they also know how. And the best products also explain why this way, but not that.
A good way to do this is simply to make a list of all of the steps necessary to take your customers from where they are to where they want to be. This will be different from every group of clients and every product.
For one thing, everyone is not starting from the same level of expertise. You’re likely to have beginners, experts, and some in the middle. And that means that you’ll have different learning objectives for each group. It may mean, too, that you create three or more different products; one for each group.
A good example is a language course. You can’t expect beginning students to start out by carrying on a conversation. They have to learn the alphabet, pronunciation, sentence structure, verbs, and vocabulary; and it’s only when they’re taught how to put all that together that they can start to talk to other people in that language.
Different levels mean different amounts of value, but the value is always commensurate with the amount of skill that a particular group of customers have.
Rather than worry about how many products to create, or even what the levels are, it’s better if you simply make a list of steps that, in no particular order, that will enable someone to go from knowing nothing to knowing as much as you do. When you’re finished, you can then think about putting them in some degree of order, and then deciding how many of those steps should be confined to one level or another.
If you try to do everything all at once, especially with the first few products that you create, you’re likely to forget something important. And adding things in later can cause problems of their own. That’s because it will disrupt the flow of your ideas. You’ll get paralyzed before you get started. Start with two steps:
- Find out what your market wants
- List the steps to get them there