Forget About Your Customers! Here’s Why.
There’s a famous quote by Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Luckily divergent thinking let to an improved solution.
It’s often how a question is asked that influences the response we receive, we unconsciously lead people towards an answer by the way in which we structure our questions.
If we ask the question how can we get from A to B quicker than we currently do, the answer quite logically at that point in history would have resulted in how can we make horses faster than what they are today. However if we would have asked, what can get us from A to B the answers would have been far broader, more creative and free from limits.
There are more questions that could be asked for example, why do we want to get from A to B, do we even need to be at B (pun intended). Can we do what we need to do from A but still communicate with B? Now the answers could include all sorts of interesting and innovative ideas around technology and virtual communication.
What’s more important than the customer?
But enough about that, the customer is an important part of business success but something more important is the reason why the customer exists in the first place. They have a problem and not just any problem, it’s a problem which strikes an emotional connection.
It’s this problematic emotional connection that customers are seeking a solution for and as someone in a startup or entrepreneurial mind frame your initial first task is finding a big enough problem to solve. We need to experience first hand what it means to the person (because customers are people first) to have this problem, what it causes and how it affects what they do.
Having this insight forms a guide on how to create a solution that fits the problem.
What problem do you think the following purchases solve? Can you connect them to an emotion?
- Shopping out of boredom on Amazon (probably less likely now due to the GST changes hahah)?
- Buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner?
- Buying high-quality new tyres for your car?
Have a good think about it, everything we do is biologically based around an emotional decision controlled by our limbic brain which we then try to back rationalise with our conscious mind.
Why else do people buy black fizzy liquid (Coca Cola)? Because it looks attractive? Because of its health benefits? I’d argue that it’s none of these reasons but rather the emotional connection that they’ve created around their brand through advertising and sponsorship's.
Big sneaky brands
While I’m on the subject of big brands, I need to stick it to McDonald's who recently renovated their store near where I live, it’s obviously bigger and more modern. But, what’s interesting is that they’ve opted to not write their name on the golden arches, and have instead written ‘PlayPlace’ under the arches.
Now of course those who know the arches know what they do, but what do you think they are trying to tell us?
At first glance you see the sign PlayPlace and you look over and you see the play area for kids with a slide and lots of colors. It looks very, very much like a play center for kids that just so happens to sell fast food. They’re targeting both kids and parent emotions around the WHY, probably something along the lines of family friendly entertainment. Not ethical in my opinion.
Will we run out of ideas?
There will always be opportunities to create new products and I’ll tell you why, because there will always be new problems to solve, and with every new problem is a new opportunity to create a solution.
Think back to the example about cars and getting from A to B, the earliest patent similar to the car we know today was by Karl Friedrich Benz in 1885. However this resulted in a new problem around saving lives in accidents that wasn’t solved until 66 years later with the Airbag, the earliest patent for an airbag like system was in 1951.
So what I’m trying to get at here is that everything starts with a problem or a need, and that these emerge out of an emotional connection that we as innovators need to be aware of so that we can create effective solutions to real problems that improve everyone’s future.
In the words of Buzz Lightyear “To infinity and beyond”,
Thanks for reading. Spread the word by clapping or recommending to help others avoid early startup failure, hold down the 👏 to say thanks.