Needless to say, it can become a real confusing experience to figure out what product you can build that your audience will want to buy.
It often feels like a huge guessing game, actually.
What many do (unfortunately) is build the product they want to make (or they think people need) and then proceed to try to sell it. This has the potential to turn into a disappointment. While there’s always a chance that your idea was just spot on and people really did want to buy it, there’s a bigger chance that you’ll never see that influx of sales you were dreaming of. Why? Because you didn’t really build the product they wanted.
Some people do it a little more smartly. They’ll pay attention to questions and to confusions of their readers. Maybe even run a survey. Then, based on that, get a bright idea for a product and proceed to build it. This route has a better chance of success, but still risks failure. Human nature being what it is, sometimes people will say things in a survey but that doesn’t mean they will pay you money to fix it.
So, what do you do?
The first step is to have a REALLY firm understanding of the problem your prospect is dealing with – from their perspective.
Understand The Specific Problem First
Let’s start with two basic fundamentals. They are…
All (good) markets are driven by an underlying transformation.
The transformation is some kind of new reality they want and it will vary by market. It is their “ideal scene”, you could say, and it will be framed by the nature of the market you’re in. So, if you’re in a weight loss market, then you’ve got a pretty obvious transformation there (overweight –> skinny). They want that new reality and all the benefits that it will mean to their life.
Now, within that transformation, you will have certain problems they need to overcome. You need to identify what those are.
The problem is a barrier. It is something in their way. Also important… it has to be real to THEM.
That last part is important. If you come into your market as an authority, you’re in a position to “know better”. You might know what somebody’s problem is better than they do. And that’s great, but if you try to create a product based around a problem THEY don’t see, you’re just not going to connect. So, it needs to be a problem that they see and it causes them some discomfort that they’d love to handle.
Once you have a true problem identified, then you need to identify the solution. Your product will be the solution. However, once again, don’t just go and create the solution you think they need. It has to be real to THEM. What kind of solution do they want? Will they see what you’re building as an obvious solution?
So, we have a simple 3-part structure that forms the foundation of your entire business, but more specifically your product.
Transformation -> Problem(s) -> Solution
How To Really Understand The Problem And Solutions They Want
There is absolutely no way you’re going to be able to nail this down by sitting there at your computer and looking at a bunch of numbers or blogs. The only way to really understand this and understand your prospects is to TALK WITH THEM.
That’s a shocker, I know. 🙂 Online business is supposed to run from behind the secure confines of your computer screen, right? Well, no. This is a PEOPLE BUSINESS. It just happens to take place on the Internet. But, those people out there are very real, just like you are. And if you intend to sell to them, you need to know what they’re struggling with and what they’re looking for.
The only way to do that is to have conversations.
Inside the Blog Monetization Lab, one of the common barriers that we deal with is figuring out what product to make. There are two courses inside the Lab aimed directly at this issue. They are:
- Finding Your Niche. Does what it says… helps you find your niche. This would be helping you to find that market and find out what the transformation is to begin with.
- Discover Your Business Model. Once you know your market, you need to really nail down the problem and solution and how you’re going to approach it. That’s what this course does.
In that last course, we go through an exercise where you are proposing a problem, a solution, and your overall approach to it. But, then, it comes down to testing. And we do that by way of actual interaction with the people in our target market. There’s just no other way.
But, there was a recent conversation going on inside the Lab community. One of the Lab members who is in the food and health space was conducting some interviews with folks to help nail down her product idea. She had talked to 4 people by the time she posted in the group. This is what she said…
My blog is about real food and health. I thought that learning to cook traditional food was one thing they might be interested in, but two were trained cooks and one was married to an Italian who loves to cook pure and real food all the time:-) Only one would find it great to get more inspiration in the form of recipes, that are healthy and not time consuming, because cooking is not her and her husband’s thing really.
But none of them knows how to ferment, but like to learn more about it and fermenting is my favorite subject!
I know fermenting is becoming a hype here now, lately there was a book published about fermenting with recipes and the first edition is sold out already and second edition is coming. Also there are some well known chefs now working with fermenting.
So I was thinking about my first product: an online fermenting course with videos combined with an ebook. Again something completely out of my comfort zone: me on video showing how to do stuff and talk about it on film….
Another thing that came up was availability (hardly something I can do anything about…) and overwhelm (there is so much information about health, everyone says something else), but all 4 decided because of that information load to stop reading about health and food related stuff.
What do you think? Is 4 interviews enough, should I do more? Or should I invest my time now in creating this product?
And this leads me to my next point here….
It Starts With Asking The Right Questions
When you talk with people about this, you need to effectively steer the conversation. You’re looking for a real problem and how they look at it. But, it needs to be in alignment with the transformation. You need to be able to tell the difference between something you’ll need to deal with in your marketing and something that is a real problem you can solve with a product.
Let me explain….
When you go into a conversation about this, you want to go into it when a hypothesis on what the problem is. And you want to make it as specific as you can. We’re not talking about vague issues like “lack of time” or “information overload”. Those kinds of issues pop up in almost every market. It isn’t the REAL problem.
This Lab member went into her conversations with these hypothesises…
Overwhelm, not knowing where to start according to cooking healthy real food meals daily and not knowing what ís healthy and what is not.
Overwhelm: not knowing how to cook traditionally prepared healthy meals (including fermenting), while knowing it is the way to go.
Afraid that it takes a lot of time and therefor they do not even start eating/cooking this way
I forgot the money issue, but that came up with 3 out of 4 and I have the same issue…
There’s the makings of some product ideas in there, but I saw that it was couched in things that are too vague to address. My response to her:
Those things you list (overwhelm, time, money)… those don’t really seem to me like problems that you’re going to be in the business of solving. Those sound like reasons they might not buy from you, but not the core issue you’re solving.
What is the REAL thing that you’re helping them achieve via food? Is their problem that they need healthy food options they can prepare in a hurry? Is it that they’re trying to solve a health issue via nutrition? If they want to learn fermenting… why? What’s the benefit to them? If their issue is HOW to cook healthy meals, then what it is about their own cooking experience that they don’t like? Do spices confuse them? Get more specific.
But, see how all of that is related to your core market – FOOD. So, what’s the problem therein?
Overwhelm is common to many markets, and you’re not in the overwhelm market. Your solution isn’t to cure overwhelm. Same with time and/or money. That’s not your market. Those are very common barriers in most markets, actually. And time and money is the big catch-all excuse not to buy something. People say that because they haven’t really thought about it. The real answer is always a level deeper than that. If somebody REALLY decided they needed something you’re offering them, they’d suddenly have the time and the money to pay for it.
So, there are 3 big points I want you to take from this:
- Hone in on the problem and get as specific as you can.
- Your problem/solution match needs to be in alignment with your target market.
- When people give you vague problems (overwhelm, time, money), realize that this is usually not the problem. It is a clue to their mindset. It can affect how you market it. But, that’s not what you’re solving. Those issues are the classic “headwinds” that are pretty much common to all markets.
The way to go into these conversations is to have a specific problem that you have proposed they have. And to steer the conversation into that. This avoids the problem of getting a ton of different answers from people and having no commonality between them. Such feedback would be really difficult to derive any actionable info from.
Find The REAL Solution
Now that we’ve had some discussions and arrived at some real problems that you could potentially solve, we need to begin thinking about the actual product.
Your product is your solution to their problem. HOWEVER…
I want you to look at the proposed solution from THEIR perspective. What would THEY see as a good solution? What would the perfect solution look like to them?
Above in her comments, this Lab member said:
So I was thinking about my first product: an online fermenting course with videos combined with an ebook.
Not so fast. Don’t knee-jerk into creating a big bunch of instructional online content because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do. First, look at it from your prospect’s perspective.
If these people would like to learn fermenting, first you want to really dive into WHY they want to know that. What do their current efforts look like? What benefits do they want from learning fermenting? This is all part of really understanding what they want.
But, would they look at a bunch of online videos as the solution they were hoping to get?
Perhaps they’d find value in some videos, but they’d find it more valuable if they could easily access them in the kitchen. And if those videos were specific so that they can just immediately accomplish the outcome they want without having to learn all kinds of theory about fermenting.
See, you’re getting more specific. And you do this by have two-way dialogs with people about the proposed solution.
I usually teach people to start with their offer. Craft an irresistible offer that your prospect will definitely see as a solution to their problem. Get it as close to a “solution in a box” as you can. Then, once you have this perfect offer, you then hone it down to something you can actually deliver upon.
Learn To Think Like Your Customer By Getting Into Their Head
This post is getting a little long. No doubt, we go into more detail on all this inside the Blog Monetization Lab. You want to nail this down for yourself and get some help with it? Join the Lab and I’d be happy to have similar discussions with you inside the Lab community.
The big theme here, however, is to really spend some time getting your product/solution match right. That’s the foundation of ANY product you make.
A truly irresistible offer… the kind that will sell itself… is often going to be more than “some training videos and an ebook”. People don’t want that. They don’t want more stuff.
What they want is a solution.
Now, your training can be a means to that end, but you have to look at it from THEIR perspective, NOT from the perspective of your medium of delivery and the price you think you can get away with asking.
Ya feelin’ me here? 😉
Your Monetization Coach,