We live in a world that rewards big numbers. As a business owner, you live and die by the numbers. The problem is that innovation doesn’t begin in the big numbers. In fact, it starts in the smallest number. It starts with understanding the experience of just a single person.
A year ago I was working on a project with a team to develop a new product to bring to market. We did all the normal market sizing and segmentation to try to identify the market segment. We mapped the unmet customer needs we had thought this segment desired, but we threw it all away after a single customer interview.
I used to hear people say that the best plans are useless once they meet the first customer. This was true for us. We had spent months planning and we finally stood in front of the customer that matched our ideal avatar.
We sat down with her and started by just getting to know each other and build rapport. What happened was very unexpected. We found ourselves learning deep lessons not about our offer, but about the pressures of her industry and what it meant to the kind of life she had. It was difficult to have a family because of the outdated methods her industry used to collaborate. This sparked many ideas that we quickly wrote down.
We continued chatting about why she chose her career and we again were trying to capture the copious notes about her motivations and desires. This was like a gold mine we had not even planned to discuss, but it happened effortlessly and we were inspired to help in her cause.
We continued at this for over 40 minutes before coming to the part where we presented our initial ideas and concepts. At this point, we almost scrapped them because we felt as if we were solving the wrong problem for this audience.
In the end, we used the core offer we had and completely refocused it. We met with more customers and validated these sentiments over and over again. In doing this we were able to make a product that not only served the need but solved a larger problem that resonated with a larger audience. It became our mission to serve our customer’s mission.
This is not possible staring at the numbers. We could have done some A/B testing, which we did later, but we would have never known the WHY. By capturing a single customer story we were able to spark innovation in an industry, radically change our customer avatar, and gain faster adoption by not wasting time trying to convince customers to like our solution and instead focus on their problem.
With the world going virtual it has become an amazing time to connect with customers. A single Zoom or Webex video conference can fundamentally change the direction of your business.
Learn their story and make it yours. Once you do that you can test all the numbers you want. I promise it is worth the wait.