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In our fast-paced society, customers are becoming ever more demanding. The products they want need to be bigger, better, faster, smaller and multi-functional, not to mention affordable. So, when you develop a great product or try to find ways of improving your current product, pay attention to customers and their needs, but also follow trends in your particular industry to find that niche, that hole in the market where your product or innovation will fit.
Then, when you provide a product that serves the need of your customers, your product will be successful and have a positive impact overall.
As Brian Lawley, CEO of the 280Group, says, “One of the major reasons products fail is the business’ failure to understand what customers really want. All this can be solved to an extent if businesses start to listen to customers and model products on their requirements.”
Listening to your customers
One of the ways of finding out what customers need is investing in surveys and actually engaging with your target audience. That can occur through social media and open houses, or sending salespeople out to talk with current customers and emailing online surveys. Effective project management means learning and knowing what questions to ask to get your customers to open up and trust you with their thoughts, even if their comments aren’t positive.
Your customers also need to feel that you’re listening to them and taking them seriously. They need to understand that you genuinely want to address their concerns and make their lives better. Their feedback can give you just the information you need to address even deeper problems.
If your product can provide a solution for those deep-rooted issues, you can transform your company’s efficiency and bottom line. And, as your now-satisfied customer will testify, other companies confronting the same issues will want your product to do the same for them.
Listening to the market
The personal computer, and eventually the Internet itself, were innovations that changed the world. In the 1960s, the space race heated up when it became apparent that the Russians were going to get there first. Your own particular industry or area within the industry may not be thinking of going as far as the moon, but market research is paramount to keep your company ahead of the competition.
It’s not always important to get there first, but it does help. There’s also an advantage to listening to others’ failures and mistakes; the media love to report on such things. This allows your company the opportunity to step up and show where it can add value and bring a solution that your counterpart failed to do.
Project management is all about listening to your customers and to the ebb and flow of the industry and world around you to deliver products that people and companies want to buy. Customers want companies, products and people they can trust to solve whatever work issue they have that requires a solution.
Whether that means a need for duct tape or WD40 to solve problems in space, or something to help executives or families better manage their time — or a service that will encourage people to get active and get fit — there’s an area of personal and business need just waiting to be filled by your product.
Analysis and strategies
Effective market analysis and customer engagement strategies are necessary to help your company innovate and develop a product or improve a current product needed to address our crazy-paced society. Effective market analysis also includes knowing your competitive landscape and developing a targeted marketing plan or distribution strategy, and building partnerships and relationships, to get your product into the hands of customers who really need what you have to offer.
Part of “Project Management 101” is the requirement to connect with customers, both current and potential, to find out what their needs and wants are for their business, and what they want your product or a product to do to help them accomplish and fulfill those wants and needs.
The other part is knowing where your market is going, what your competitors are doing and, even more importantly, what they’re not doing. When you combine these two types of feedback and information, you’ll be able to turn out a new and better product.