The One Vital Question To Ask Potential Customers Before You Introduce Anything New

(By Paul B. Brown)

If you ask people if they like the product or service you are thinking of offering, odds are they are going to say “yes,” if for no other reason than to be kind. They know you have worked hard to come up with this idea, and even if they think the concept of a polo shirt with a three-quarter length sleeve is the dumbest thing they have ever heard of, most people aren’t going to say that. They don’t want you to feel bad. And besides, saying they like it doesn’t cost them a thing.

Context first: People, as a rule, are polite and they don’t want to hurt your feelings. With that in mind, let’s talk about how you can avoid making a serious mistake as you go about introducing your next (or first) product or service.

As we have talked about before, I am not a big believer in market research.  Three things happen while you are doing that research, and none of them are good.

1. No revenues are coming in.

2. Someone could beat you to the punch and introduce your great idea before you do.

3. The market is changing and as a result you could fall out of step. To use an extreme example to make the point, while you are planning how to make the world’s best VCR, the market shifts to DVRs.

And what is just as bad is what you could  hear from potential customers, as you go about doing all that research, What they say can be extremely misleading.

If you ask people if they like the product or service you are thinking of offering, odds are they are going to say “yes,” if for no other reason than to be kind. They know you have worked hard to come up with this idea, and even if they think the concept of a polo shirt with a three-quarter length sleeve is the dumbest thing they have ever heard of, most people aren’t going to say that. They don’t want you to feel bad. And besides, saying they like it doesn’t cost them a thing.

So, they tell you it is a good idea, or at least they say, “not bad” and you trundle off and start working on the concept comvinced you have gotten positive feedback.

To guard against this problem, let me suggest this. Instead of saying, “do you like my idea” ask “is this something you would buy,” and if they say yes, ask for the order then and there. If, as the cliché goes, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is, you are probably on to something.

If they aren’t, you still have work to do.

(Source: Forbes)

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