4. Identifying potential customer needs

In our last blog we discussed the ten components of the responsibilities of the Marketing department. We stated that the Marketing department is only a single organ of an entire organism. With this in mind, let’s dive into our first component of the Marketing department’s list of responsibilities: identifying potential customer needs.

Before we are able to identify those potential customer needs we need to gather all relevant information. The easiest way to gather all relevant information is to start with a couple of internal and external factors that help us identify the potential customer needs. 

I like to gather the following assets of information first to provide a basis for gathering all relevant information:

Why did general management start the company?
What are the Mission and Vision statements?
What is your solution worth?

Why did General Management start the company?

This question provides you with context from the company’s history. Why did its decision makers decide it was time to create this company? A company is often started through frustration. These are examples of common frustrations:

  1. You walk into a problem in life, you start looking for a solution and can’t find it. So you decide to make the solution yourself. 
  2. An experience with an existing company was bad and you think you are able to do it much better. Product, service, or another component.

Mission & Vision

The mission and vision are also of great value to help solve our main point of investigation. 

The mission statement describes what a company does, who it serves and why it is best qualified to help you.

The vision statement describes what a company strives to become in the future. It is the spot on the horizon, you are not there now but it is where you want to be. “To become the world’s number one choice for a blister free hiking experience.”

What is your solution worth?

No. Not the price of your product, but the price of the solution you offer. Ask five people around you what they would pay for ‘great sleep for the rest of your life’. The answers might be within a range of $1.000 to $70.000. Now ask them how much they would pay for “the best pillow in the world”. Chances are that your five test-subjects now answer quite differently. They could answer within a range of $40 to $300. How come? In essence we still promise the exact same thing. But there is a major difference between the two: the first is an intangible solution, the second is a tangible product for which we already have some comparison material: a cheap pillow in any store which might be ranged up to $50. So why is there such a difference here? That is because there is a difference in perceived value depending on how you explain it. 

You have to find out what your solution is worth by asking friends, family or strangers what they think. It doesn’t matter if you are currently reading this from a position within a company where you already have a product with its value on your website. I’m not asking you what the price of your product is, I’m asking you what is the perceived value of the solution you offer. Without mentioning the product you (are going to) sell. 

The three steps in identifying customer needs

Finding potential customer needs consists of the following three steps

1.Why did General Management start the company?
2.What are the Mission and Vision statements?
3.What is your solution worth?

The first step is done to find out more about our company’s reason of existence. What problem or bad experiences was the cause of general management to start this company? If this frustration still exists, we have found a first part in the journey of finding the customer needs. 

Secondly we researched our company’s core values: what the company does, who it wants to serve, and why it is the best in doing so. If our core values align with the customer’s core values, we are better able to meet the customer’s needs. 

Thirdly we analyzed the perceived value of our solution with people outside the company. If the perceived value of our solution is very low, that would probably indicate a low need for it. If the perceived value of our solution is high, this represents a need. 

We now have answers to the three components needed to identify the customer’s needs. If the frustration still exists; our core values are aligned with the customer’s; the perceived value of the product is higher than the selling price, we’re in business. Research these factors yourself and write down the answers to each of the questions. If you’re able to answer these questions with good answers, you can move on to the next step: Defining the target audience.

 

While there are more components to research before giving a complete answer to the identification of potential customer needs, for example: through doing extensive surveys and interviews with test groups. The answers above are easy to gather within a short time-frame. If you just started at a new position in marketing and want to deliver fast, the above information is enough to continue to the next step: defining your target audience. Which you can read about in next week’s blog. See you next week!

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