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Involving your customers in product development naturally has many advantages. For one, it enables you to develop and bring to market more targeted, successful products. It also provides you with great opportunities to develop more meaningful and mutual relationships with your customers.

Marketing a new product and understanding customer needs

Sometimes, the product marketing process goes awry, and companies fail to create products that delight- or in other words fail to satisfy the need of the market it is targeting.

Case in point, this Spidergirl costume (with Halloween around the corner, I thought this example was erm – fitting).

Traditionally, superhero costumes target little boys. Let’s face it, they have a limitless amount of choices to choose from: Batman, Spiderman, Radioactive man (for the Simpson fans out there), Superman, Ironman, etc..

On the contrary, little girls are left with many fewer options – Batgirl and Supergirl costumes are much more harder to come by. I think creating a spidergirl costume is therefore, a great idea…however it needs to appeal to its target market.

This issue is clearly highlighted in a recent article on iVillage:

“We’re not even sure who the target audience is here. If your girl likes Spiderman or Spider-Girl, she probably wants to, well, look like Spiderman or Spider-Girl.” In other words, give customers the product features that they would expect (I somehow doubt that Spidergirl would want to fight crime in a tutu).

Evidently, creating and executing a plan to enhance the client experience can be difficult. It is not a situation or task that can be successfully developed overnight. One thing that is clear, the benefits highly outweigh the costs. Jeff Lash, of How to be a Good Product Manager, highlights the advantages of listening to your customers:

“…the benefits of these delighting product aspects can truly differentiate an offering and an organization…when customers see a company putting effort into neat/cool/unnecessary features or benefits but ignoring basic fundamental aspects, it implies that the organization is either (a) trying to cover up their faults, or (b) oblivious to customer needs…it does not send a positive message to the market and is likely to backfire.” (Jeff Lash – How to be a Good Product Manager)

At the end of day, a company must design a product development process where the client and the client experience, is the number one priority. A process that involves finding out everything about your target market (likes, dislikes, wants, goals, etc.) and developing a product that fully, meets those needs.

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