Before Marketing, Confirm the Customer Problem

feedback-form-excellent-1238383When meeting a new client, a common question is, “what do you think of this new product or service idea?” That’s when I tell them about an Innovation Engineering process of determining whether your offering solves one of your target customer’s BIGGEST or MOST FREQUENT problems.

The Innovation Engineering Network has decades of data which shows people are most likely to purchase a product if it helps solve a big or very frequent problem in their lives. So what we do is test our problem statement with the target audience with a simple survey. We only need about 10 responses to know if we have the correct problem statement. Further, the data shows that if the problem statement has a score of at least 7.5 out of 10, this product is robust enough for word-of-mouth marketing i.e. people will tell their friends about it. This is a standard we want to reach unless we have a big marketing budget.

The problem does not have be both the biggest AND most frequent – just one standard is enough. A big problem would be one that could have a huge impact on the course of your life, such as whether a car seat will protect your baby. A most frequent problem is one that happens almost every day, such as trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

Here’s an example of how you might phrase a problem statement for a BIG problem:

“Do you worry about whether you are saving enough money for your child to attend college?”

And here’s an example of how you might phrase a problem statement for a MOST FREQUENT problem:

“Do you constantly lose your keys in the clutter of your home?”

So you build your survey in a free survey tool like Survey Monkey, find a bunch of people in your target market and see if the problem gets a 7.5. This can take only a few hours if you have access to the right people. I have almost never seen a score of 7.5 on the first problem survey. It typically takes 3-4 rounds to refine the problem statement to the exact nuance / focus of the target market. It’s amazing how far a product can progress in only 24 hours by doing these rounds of surveys.

Having an accurate problem statement ensures you build the features that solve the most pertinent problem. It also is a great data point in pitches. And the language becomes the backbone for the marketing campaign.

For a template of the problem survey, sign up for our e-newsletter and I’ll email it to you!