Instead of making a product to sell to customers, ask what the customer wants, and then make the product.
“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” is the charge given to a business. If one business is building a thing, and another one builds a better thing, it makes sense that the better thing will win. Because… it’s better.
This is where marketing is backwards. Instead of making a product to sell to customers, we really should be asking what the customer wants, and then make the product. If my mousetrap is doing its job, I’m unlikely to need a better one.
But, then… I ask. I discover a segment of customers that hates dealing with a barbaric turn of the century neck breaking horror show. Learning that bit of information helps me create a new mouse trap that does all that gory stuff inside a container. All the extermination, none of the nightmares.
This is not splitting hairs. The game has always been to find a hole in the marketplace first. Who is being under-served, and are there enough of them to build a business? It’s a much easier route to success. This will take some market research, but that’s cheaper than going out of business.
While you should do it this way, it’s not always realistic. Sometimes the product is there, and it’s gotta move off the shelf. The methodology is the same. You ask the customers HOW they use it and WHY they use it. This will give you the insight into what is important to the customer. Now you point your marketing in THAT direction and you’re on your way.
Fancy business schools call it “market orientation.” Others say it’s “seeing the business through the customer’s eyes.” Call it anything you like. Just don’t forget to do it.
You are not making something to sell to customers. You are finding customers and making the product they want to buy.